Education

Our education list focuses on education policy and politics and the inequalities that are both built into education systems and perpetuated by them. It speaks to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. 

Our titles, including Stephen Ball’s The Education Debate, now in its fourth edition, address the challenges in education, including those around technology and the digital divide. The list offers students and researchers internationally sourced evidence-based solutions that challenge traditional neoliberal approaches to learning.

Education

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Parents do not hold formal positions as external actors within the education system, yet, as my research shows, when they collectively organise, they can potentially play a large role. I begin by arguing that we can understand their position as liminal, after which I present two cases of Israeli parents’ collective involvement: one within a school and the other across a local community. I examine their motives and aims of organising as a collective and the specific activities they engage in, and I illustrate the ways this collective action leads to changes in the provision of schooling. Findings reveal that parents’ liminal position means they can act as a catalyst for change and as a source for (de)legitimising other actors within the education system. In comparing the two cases, it appears that parents’ influence can be greater when organised at the locality level rather than at just the school level.

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Author: Izhar Oplatka

In recent decades the number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has grown considerably across many sectors, including that of education. These organisations are engaged in education in a wide variety of ways and have gained considerable visibility in the fields of educational reform, development, and provision. NGOs are particularly prevalent across the Global South. The purpose of this chapter is to propose and defend a conceptual framework for promoting a communitarian approach to develop educational developments between local communities and NGOs.

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Charter schools in the United States form alliances with external actors by granting them seats on their boards of directors. In this chapter, we document the extent of such alliances formed with for-profit and non-profit sectors, review various theories about how stakeholders add value to the schools, and seek to relate their presence to academic outcomes. Our descriptive results provide some support for resource dependence theory in that charter school governing boards are dominated by a narrow set of actors from specific industries in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors as strategic response to resource-based pressure. Further research is needed to examine the degree of dependency of charter schools on these external actors and to identify what specific skills, experiences, and forms of social and cultural capital these actors have leveraged to influence or control charter school board decisions and organisational performance.

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Using the history of Danish educational testing practices in the 20th century as a prism, this chapter investigates how different actors have emerged, interacted, and struggled to shape education. The chapter draws on the archival material and analysis presented in my PhD dissertation, but for a fresh inquiry, the empirical data were reread and analysed anew, focusing specifically on the actors promoting testing and the shifting historical configurations in the historical compositions of actors. By examining the growth of the testing sector in Denmark in a historical perspective, this chapter allows for a deeper examination of how bottom-up and top-down actors, internal and external actors, work in alliances and change locations over time, offering new insights into the role of ‘external’ actors in education.

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This book aims to contribute to the emerging field of research and practice that examines and advises how education systems might invite in, be critical of, and form partnerships with a growing number of actors and interests involved in today’s provision of education. In particular, we focus on in-depth analytical explorations of different forms of interactions between external actors and schools in different educational contexts. By doing so, the book conceptualises the various relations that have developed and consider the impact of these for issues of equality across various contexts.

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Author: Marina Avelar

New philanthropy is now an increasingly influential external actor in education, promoting considerable shifts in the field. This chapter analyses how new philanthropy is enacting discursive, relational, and institutional activities within heterarchical structures of governance to change how education is conceived and done in Brazil. The example of an advocacy group, the Mobilisation for the National Learning Standards is presented. The group brought together several foundations and individual supporters who worked in public and private organisations to advocate for a standardised curriculum for the country. The case illustrates how new philanthropy executes a series of activities to construct itself as a legitimate and well-connected policy actor that is now part of the public management of education. In doing so, foundations blur the boundary between public and private, and profit and non-profit; they are active in all policy contexts and are making education policy in new spaces. Making sense of the complex and diverse roles played by new philanthropy in education governance supports new ways of thinking about external education actors and how they construct alliances to produce changes in education.

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Authors: Steven Lewis and Bob Lingard

Our chapter focuses on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD’s) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Schools, an instrument designed to assess individual school performance in reading, mathematics, and science against the national (and subnational) schooling systems measured by the main PISA test. Such an extension of PISA to new local schooling spaces typifies the increasing presence and complexity of the role now played by ‘external’ actors in education policy and policymaking processes. First, we provide a brief outline of the OECD’s education agenda, focusing on its testing regime with main PISA as the prototype for the development of a broader range of tests, including PISA for Schools. We then consider how power-topologies, as well as networked and heterarchical governance, provide a generative theoretical lens through which to better understand these emergent processes. This is followed by the empirical focus of the chapter, in which we account for the changing management of PISA for Schools, the involvement of an Australian for profit edu-business in the management of the test, and the various ways this exemplifies third-party involvement in the work of the OECD. We conclude by suggesting PISA for Schools now works as an example of networked or heterarchical governance, but one that is stretched globally.

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This chapter explores the role that knowledge actors play in education policy reforms in a context characterised by the increasing participation and influence of external actors in education policy debates. Knowledge actors are defined as those who conduct traditional functions of scientific research and also translate evidence for policymaking. Our hypothesis states that strengthening the Chilean research and development (R&D) ecosystem between 2005 and 2015 allowed the emergence of new knowledge actors with the capacity to influence the design of education policies. In order to assess this hypothesis, we first analyse the sharp increase in R&D public funding occurring in Chile during that period, which notably expanded the number and quality of researchers and the capacity to produce research findings capable of potentially informing policymaking. Second, we analyse two education reforms. The first one, discussed in the initial years of the R&D expansion, was the Preferential Student Subsidy Law (2005–08); and the second one, the Inclusion Law (2014–15), was carried out after the increase in research capacity. We empirically analyse National Congress records that register the actors participating in public hearings to provide their professional expertise and opinions about the reforms. We find an abrupt increase in the participation of knowledge actors influencing policy debates in the second reform, as a result of the strengthening of the R&D ecosystem. We conclude that the state can benefit from the contribution made from a diverse and emergent array of knowledge actors that provide and mobilise evidence capable of better informing policy debates in education.

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Shifting Boundaries Globally and Locally

Increasingly it is not just the state that determines the content, delivery and governance of education. The influence of external actors has been growing, but the boundaries between internal and external have become blurred and their partnerships have become more complex.

This book considers how schooling systems are being influenced by the rise of external actors, including private companies, NGOs, parent organisations, philanthropies and international assessment frameworks.

It explores how the public, private and third sectors are becoming increasingly intertwined. Introducing new theoretical frameworks, it examines diverse sites – including Cambodia, Israel, Poland, Chile, Australia, Brazil and the US – to study the role of policies, institutions and contextual factors shaping the changing relationships between those seeking to influence schooling.

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