The Global Education Industry, Data Infrastructures, and the Restructuring of Government School Systems
This chapter focuses on a largely hidden dimension of the privatization and commercialization of public schooling systems, namely the role of edu-businesses in relation to the creation of data infrastructures that are indispensable to the structuring of government schooling systems today. Large, private ed-tech companies are an important element of the Global Education Industry (GEI) and have been important in the creation of interoperability standards and the provision of these structuring data infrastructures. The chapter shows how the move to network governance with the involvement of edu-businesses and philanthropies alongside state actors in all aspects of the policy cycle has facilitated this work of ed-techs as an example of ‘extrastatecraft’. The chapter documents two case studies: one Australian and the other in the USA of the work of ed-techs, in relation to data infrastructures. The Australian case analyses the development of the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP), which functions in a networked governance mode through collaboration between governments and ed-tech companies. The second case documents the InBloom data infrastructure initiative across nine US states funded by the Gates Foundation (2011–2014). InBloom sought to provide a single platform for the sharing of data about schooling across these states and was set against President Obama’s Race to the Top legislation that demanded school systems develop ‘data systems to support instruction’. Parental and teacher union opposition around data privacy to InBloom and to NSIP developments in Australia will also be outlined.
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