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Globalization comes home

by Larry Kuehn
Director of Research and Technology, BCTF

International students seen as a business

“They get to come to Canada and learn English, and they can perhaps earn a Dogwood Certificate, which is an internationally recognized commodity….They pump money into our system, which then goes to support our B.C. kids.”

Hon. C. Clark, Hansard, March 2003 

International students

2000-01 2001-02 2002-03
2,957 students 4,050 students 5,602 students
$37.5 income
$21.1 spent
$55.5 income
$30.1 spent
$65.7 income

The X-filing of the BC curriculum

“From the perspective of attracting tuition-paying ESL students to schools in British Columbia, the new graduation program can only lengthen their stay at school and make this option a less saleable item for districts to look at as a revenue producer.”

ESL PSA brief on the Grad Review  

Network technologies

  • Student Keypals

  • “You are there”—classroom show from Indymedia in Miami at the demonstrations

  • Networking of opponents of corporate globalization—IDEA

  • But also individualize and privatize

What is “neo-liberal globalization”?

  • Ideology that the market rules

  • Less equity

  • Privatization—commodify so that everything can be in the market

  • Freedom for corporations from government—deregulation

  • Increased regulation of public services

Privatization of education in B.C.

  • Student fees

  • Fundraising and selling of junk food and pop

  • International students for profit

  • School district business companies

  • Online home schooling

  • Trade agreements—Phoenix University

Focus education on economic purposes

  • Planning 10 so that students will know about “pathways”

  • Reduced electives, with loss of arts, drama, music and others

  • Focus on individual choice rather than social choices

Control structures from corporate globalization

  • “Cult of efficiency”

  • Control through a loose/tight system—”steering at a distance”

  • Data-based decision-making—”If it can’t be counted, it can’t be managed”

Loose/tight control system

  • The “loose” is the appearance of local freedom to decide—SPCs, school plans, “notional budgets”

  • The “tight” is centrally set framework through accountability contracts

  • Fed by a technology-based data system (“student level data system”—2005)

Control structures as applied in BC education

  • Accountability contracts based on outcomes—not inputs or process

  • School planning councils—plans

  • Student testing—data for system

  • College standards for teachers

Attack labour and professional rights

  • Unions are considered to be impediments to the free market

  • Labour rights of workers are attacked and unions weakened

  • “Professionalism” is used a weapon to control teachers

Is neo-liberal globalization appearing in your district?

  • Corporate sponsors, pop and junk food?

  • International students for profit?

  • School District Business Company?

  • Overseas schools run for profit?

  • Online programs as a product for sale?

  • Control systems imported from business—loose/tight data driven?

Are these showing up in some way?

  • End of equity-directed social and educational programs?

  • Dominance of business interests over the social and cultural purposes of education?

  • Potential impact of trade agreements?

What is to be done?

  • Challenge the neo-liberal ideology that “the market rules.”

  • Promote the public good of public education.

  • Make equity and social justice valued objectives.

  • Challenge the control structures that simulate the market in the education system.

  • Develop a Charter that presents a democratic, participatory way of making decisions about public education.

  • Develop an appropriate accountability system.

  • Challenge the loss of conditions that are necessary for quality public education.

  • Work to regain and improve working and learning conditions—and support others working for the same end.

Jean Swanson’s criteria for evaluating success

  1. The long haul—you made some improvement toward the long-term objective or blocked others from taking away something valued.

  2. You brought more people on side.

  3. You got your position on the record.

More information on globalization and education

Check out the BCTF website.

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