Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bloody politicians...

I really hate responding to their crap, but I guess their crap is slightly easier to deal with as they are - technically anyway - mere representatives of the people (cough cough) and thus bound by notions of social justice, democracy and citizenship.

Imagine education if it were solely run by the corporate sector? No way. Yes I know that they've tried to engineer this to be a reality, but surely the privatisation/globalisation tsunami has only affected parts of the education system?


Governance: Reforms to governance were at the heart of the neoliberal reforms to education in the 1980's and their impact is obvious with the private sector (ECE centres and schools) now receiving public monies and all schools required to operate under a business model where they compete against each other.

On a more subtle level we have the OECD seeking to make educational systems in different countries the same through the PISA assessment which is a standardised test on competencies. This test has led to the reconstruction of education systems in some countries and replaces national aims with rigid predetermined transnational targets that primarily focus on economics and the maintenance of neoliberalism. This is the most potent example of transnational organisations leveraging control over national educational systems. National Standards anyone?
Mandate, or what education wants to achieve, is another area where the state has ceded power to transnational organisations in order to better achieve national goals. Our economic focus is now global, while the goals of citizenship and social cohesion etc remain of national concern. This has seen the emergence of parallel discourses: NZ Curriculum Framework is an example where a strong national focus through culture sits alongside the rhetoric of neoliberalism with its focus on the 'global knowledge economy'.

How is this happening? Through the global dominance of the 'economic growth model' of education where quality of life is weirdly linked to a nations economic wealth. Such an education system only needs to produce workers with basic skills in literacy and numeracy with some people to have more advanced skills in computer science and technology. Equal access is not important: a nation can grow economically while the poor remain illiterate and without basic computer skills.

Doesn't that sound fucking awful? Check out the 'Human Development Model' for education where critical thinking, diversity, empathy, imagination and the arts are still thankfully valued!

Capacity? Well despite the criticisms, schools are deeply embedded in social structures and change will be slow - and our responsibility!

So while evil globalisation does not carry all before it, the dominant mandate is to ensure that education contributes to the country's ability to participate the GKE.

So why the rant?

Well the New Zealand government has once again thrown early childhood education up in the air with another 'working group' make some strong recommendations....

  • let the market dictate teacher salaries - wealthy communities can afford quality teaching at the expense of poorer communities.
  • refocus equal funding schemes to targeted 'at-risk' groups rather than ensuring universal access.
  • allow centres to prioritise this funding, thus creating another decile ranking system with the ensuring 'white flight' .
  • the removal of fee controls.
  • an acceptance that 80% qualified teachers is good enough.
And so the corporatisation of education inches that much further. They drive me insane. We so need a revolution.

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