The rise of “edu-business” in Australian public schools
2 September 2017
In 2011, in his characteristically crude and cynical manner, Rupert Murdoch spelled out the agenda that now underlies the provision of so-called “public education” in Australia.
“With common standards and a competitive market, we can deliver a first-class education to any child, from any background, in any classroom … I don’t pretend to be an expert on academic standards. But as a business leader, I do know something about how common standards unlock investment and unleash innovation. With standards in place, investors are willing to take bigger risks because there are bigger rewards… Now it’s true that setting common standards will help News Corporation as we try to figure out what programs our schools need.”
As Murdoch makes clear, providing “what programs our schools need” is, for him, identical with “helping” them “unlock investment and unleash innovation,” and thus enable his News Corporation and the financial and corporate sector in general, to “reap bigger rewards,” i.e., gouge profits out of the ever-accelerating privatisation of public education.
Murdoch’s comments follow a series of initiatives carried out in the US along these lines. Some three decades ago, US businesses began demanding that schools adopt “standards” and “standardised testing” to implement them.
In 2002 President George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) mandated testing in all 50 states; Barack Obama’s “Race To The Top” (RTTP) tied federal funding for schools even more closely to test-based performance standards; while Obama’s Common Core State Standards established curricular standards across all states, making it possible for corporations such…