Globalization of Education case study

Globalization of Education
Globalization of education refers to the worldwide discussions, processes,
and institutions influencing local educational practices and policies. What
comprises this global education superstructure? There are international
organizations that directly and indirectly influence national school
systems. There are multinational education corporations and schools.
Government and professionals engage in global discussions about
school policies. In the first issue of the journal Globalisation, Societies
and Education (2003), Roger Dale and Susan Robertson state that
globalization of education would be considered as an intertwined set
of global processes affecting education, such as worldwide discourses on
human capital, economic development, and multiculturalism; intergovern –
mental organizations; information and communication technology;
nongovern mental organizations; and multinational corporations.
The concept of globalized educational institutions and discourses
developed after the term “globalization” was coined by the economist
Theodore Levitt in 1985 to describe changes in global economics
affecting production, consumption, and investment. The term was quickly
applied to political and cultural changes that affect in common ways
large segments of the world’s peoples. One of these common global
phenomena is schooling. As the opening editorial in the first edition of
Globalisation, Societies and Education—the very founding of this journal
indicates the growing importance of globalization and education as a
field of study—states “formal education is the most commonly found
institution and most commonly shared experience of all in the contem –
porary world.” However, globalization of education does not mean that
all schools are the same as indicated by studies of differences between
the local and the global.
In the 1990s, the language of globalization entered discourses about
schooling. Government and business groups began talking about the
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necessity of schools meeting the needs of the global economy. For
example, the United States’ organization Achieve, Inc., formed in 1996
by the National Governors Associations and CEOs of major corporations
for the purpose of school reform, declared that “High school is now the
front line in America’s battle to remain competitive on the increasingly
competitive international economic stage.” The organization provided
the following definition of the global economy in a publication title that
suggested the linkages made by politicians and businesspeople between
education and globalization: “America’s High Schools: The Front Line
in the Battle for Our Economic Future.”
The growth of worldwide educational discourses and institutions led
to similar national educational agendas, particularly the concept that
edu cation should be viewed as an economic investment with the goal of
developing human capital or better workers to promote economic
growth. Consequently, educational discussions around the world often
refer to human capital, lifelong learning for improving job skills, and
economic development. Also, the global economy is sparking a mass
migration of workers resulting in global discussions about multicultural
Intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and
the World Bank, are promoting global educational agendas that reflect
discourses about human capital, economic development, and multi –
culturalism. Information and communication technology is speeding the
global flow of information and creating a library of world knowledges.
Global nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), particularly those
concerned with human rights and environmentalism, are trying to
influence school curricula throughout the world. Multinational corpor –
ations, particularly those involved in publishing, information, testing,
for-profit schooling, and computers, are marketing their products to
governments, schools, and parents around the world.
In Chapter 4 I discussed human capital economics as the dominant goal
directing American and global education. As a reminder to the reader,
human capital stresses education as a cause of economic growth and
increased income. In this section, I link human capital economics to
Consumerism is a driving force in global economics. In a world of
rising shopping malls, “Shop ’till you drop” is the clarion call of our
age. Human capital education promises students higher incomes that
can be used to purchase more and more products.
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The triumph of consumerism was made possible by the related actions
of schools, advertising, and media. Mass-consumer culture integrates
consumerism into all aspects of life from birth to death, including, but
not limited to, education, leisure-time activities, the popular arts, the
home, travel, and personal imagination. Mass-consumer culture captures
the fantasy world of people with brand names and fashions that promise
personal transformation, the vicarious thrill of imagining the glamorous
lives of media celebrities, and the promise of escape from hard work
through packaged travel and cruises to an envisioned paradise.
The ideology of consumerism was articulated in the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries with the appearance of industrial and agri cultural
abundance. As conceived by the turn-of-the-century economist Simon
Patten, consumerism reconciled the Puritan virtue of hard work with the
abundance of consumer goods. From the Puritan standpoint, the danger
of abundant goods was more leisure time and possible moral decay. In
Patten’s 1907 book The New Basis of Civilization, he argues that the
consumption of new products and leisure-time activities would spur people
to work harder. In Patten’s words, “The new morality does not consist in
saving, but in expanding consumption.” Patten explains, “In the course
of consumption . . . the new wants become complex . . . [and as a result
the] worker steadily and cheerfully chooses the deprivations of this week.
. . . Their invest ment in tomorrow’s goods enables society to increase its
output and to broaden its productive areas.”
The professionalization and expansion of advertising in the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a key contribution to the
creation of a global mass-consumer culture. Advertising prompted desires
for new products; it convinced consumers that existing products were
unfashionable, and therefore, obsolete; and it made brand names into
playthings in personal fantasies. The advertising profession transformed
the capitalist model of buyers making rational choices in a free market
into a consumerist model where the buyer was driven by irrational
emotions associated with particular brand names and/or products.
Consumerism is strikingly different from other ideologies that place
an emphasis on either social harmony or an abandonment of worldly
concerns. Many religions value the denial of materialistic desires. Differ –
ent branches of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity reject
the way of life represented by the consumer seeking personal trans –
formation through the buying of goods. Confucianism emphasizes the
importance of social harmony over individual pursuit of wealth. Today,
funda mentalist Islamic governments, such as in Iran and Afghanistan,
are attempting to protect their populations from what they consider to
be degenerate Western consumerism.
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The following is a list of the basic ideas that form the ideology of
consumerism. Of course, consumerism is aligned with notions of human
capital education.
Basic ideas of consumerist ideology
1. Work is a virtue and it keeps people from an indolent life that could
result in vice and crime.
2. Equality means equality of opportunity to pursue wealth and
3. Accumulation of material goods is evidence of personal merit.
4. The rich are rich because of good character and the poor are poor
because they lack virtue.
5. The major financial goal of society should be economic growth and
the continual production of new goods.
6. Consumers and producers should be united in efforts to maximize
the production and consumption of goods.
7. People will want to work hard so that they can consume an endless
stream of new products and new forms of commodified leisure.
8. Differences in ability to consume (or income) are a social virtue
because they motivate people to work harder.
9. Advertising is good because it motivates people to work harder to
consume products.
10. The consumer is irrational and can be manipulated in his/her pur –
11. The consumption of products will transform one’s life.
The Common Core State Curriculum reflects the global trend to
emphasize skills needed for success in employment and higher educa –
tion. It is a skills-based curriculum in contrast to one emphasizing the
learning of specific knowledge. “Skills have become the global currency
of twenty-first century economies,” declared Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development’s publication Trends Shaping Education
2013. As I discuss in my book The Economization of Education, the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum are globally promoting
skill-based schooling with many nations aligning their curricula to skills
considered necessary for employment and economic growth. The OECD
defines skills as the “ability to do something,” which could include the
ability to operate a machine (hard skill) or the ability to get along with
others (soft skill). Skill-based instruction, it is claimed, will solve most
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economic problems, including economic development and growth,
unemployment, and inequalities in wealth.
Skills are divided into hard and soft with hard skills usually referring
to such things as literacy instruction and numeracy and soft skills to
character traits that will help the worker succeed in the workplace.
Preschool is now considered an important time to teach soft skills,
such as grit and conscientiousness, for later success in school and work.
There are many questions surrounding the concept of skills. Are these
skills to be general skills required by the economy or skills specifically
related to a particular job or trade? What role do cultural differences
make in teaching skills or are skills to be global and unrelated to a
specific culture? Will skill instruction solve other global problems, such
as protection of human rights and the environment? And, most
importantly, is there a global skills gap?
The World Economic Forum’s report Education and Skills 2.0 high –
lights the confusion over the question of a skills gap:
One arena in which accountability matters hugely is the effort to
ensure that the skills imparted by an education system match those
needed by employers. This issue has recently come to prominence
because of the large number of reports from American National
Association of Colleges and Employers who say they cannot find
workers who have the skills needed to perform specific jobs even
when pay levels are high. Many economists, by contrast, say that
the empirical evidence does not support the existence of any signi –
ficant skills gap. This is an issue that is unresolved in countries at
all income levels [author’s emphasis].
Despite these questions about the existence of a skills gap, globally schools
are adopting skill-based curricula to meet the needs of future employers.
The OECD is a major force in global testing and in supporting human
capital education for a knowledge economy. The OECD links education
to economic growth. The OECD’s 1961 founding document states as
its goal “to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employ –
ment and a rising standard of living in Member countries, while main –
taining financial stability, and thus to contribute to the development of
the world economy.” From its original membership of twenty nations
it has expanded to thirty of the richest nations of the world. In addition,
the OECD provides expertise and exchanges ideas with more than 100
other countries including the least-developed countries in Africa.
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In keeping with its concerns with economic growth, the OECD
promotes the role of education in economic development. Along with
economic growth, OECD leaders express concern about nations having
shared values to ensure against social disintegration and crime. The stated
values of education according to the OECD are: “Both individuals and
countries benefit from education. For individuals, the potential benefits
lay [sic] in general quality of life and in the economic returns of sustained,
satisfying employment. For countries, the potential benefits lie in economic
growth and the development of shared values that underpin social
The OECD’s global testing products, the Programme for Inter national
Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathe matics
and Science Study (TIMSS), are creating global standards for the know –
ledge required to function in what the OECD defines as the everyday
life of a global economy. Also, the tests are serving as an “Academic
Olympiad” with nations comparing the scores of their students with
those of other nations. The result is national education policy leaders
trying to plan their curriculum to meet the challenge of OECD testing,
particularly preparation for TIMSS. Wanting to impress their national
leaders, school officials hope their students do well on these tests in
comparison to other countries. The consequence is a trend to uniformity
in national curricula as school leaders attempt to prepare their students
to do well on the test. Writing about the effect of PISA and TIMSS on
world education culture, David P. Baker and Gerald K. LeTendre assert,
“After the first set of TIMSS results became public, the United States
went into a kind of soul-searching. . . . The release of the more recent
international study on OECD nations called PISA led Germany into a
national education crisis. Around the world, countries are using the results
of international tests as a kind of Academic Olympiad, serving as a
referendum on their school system’s performance.”
The potential global influence of PISA is vast since the participating
member nations and partners represent, according to the OECD,
90 percent of the world economy. These assessments are on a threeyear cycle beginning in 2000 with each assessment year devoted to a
particular topic. For instance, international assessment of reading is
scheduled for 2009, mathematics for 2012, and science for 2015. The
OECD promotes PISA as an important element in the global knowledge
economy: “PISA seeks to measure how well young adults, at age 15 and
therefore approaching the end of compulsory schooling, are prepared to
meet the challenges of today’s knowledge societies—what PISA refers
to as ‘literacy.’ ”
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría echoed the dominant global
discourse on education and the knowledge economy:
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In a highly competitive globalized economy, knowledge, skills and
know-how are key factors for productivity, economic growth
and better living conditions. . . . Our estimates show that adding
one extra year to the average years of schooling increases GDP per
capita by 4 to 6 percent. Two main paths of transmission can
explain this result: First, education builds human capital and enables
workers to be more productive. Second, education increases
countries’ capacity to innovate—an indispensable prerequisite for
growth and competitiveness in today’s global knowledge economy.
The OECD is contributing to a world culture of schooling through its
testing, research, and higher education programs. In fact, one of its pro –
grams promotes the international sharing of educational ideas.
The OECD Programme on Educational Building (PEB) promotes the
exchange and analysis of policy, research and experience in all matters
related to educational building. The planning and design of educational
facilities—schools, colleges and universities—has an impact on educa –
tional outcomes, which is significant but hard to quantify.
While OECD policies do influence developing nations and the organ –
ization’s data collection reflects concern about poor countries, the
major concern is the economies of member nations. In other words, what
problems are faced by the world’s wealthiest nations in educating their
populations for competition in the global knowledge economy? This
difference in emphasis on developed as contrasted to developing nations
is captured in the definition of the knowledge economy given in a 2007
OECD book Human Capital: “In developed economies, the value of
knowledge and information in all their forms is becoming ever more
apparent, a trend that is being facilitated by the rapid spread of highspeed information technology [author’s emphasis].”
“Today,” declares the 2007 official guide to the World Bank, “the World
Bank Group is the world’s largest funder of education.” Founded in
1944, the World Bank provides educational loans to developing nations
based on the idea that investment in education is the key to economic
development. Educational improvement became a goal of the World
Bank in 1968 when its then president Robert McNamara announced,
“Our aim here will be to provide assistance where it will contribute
most to economic development. This will mean emphasis on educational
planning, the starting point for the whole process of educational improve –
ment.” McNamara went on to explain that it would mean an expansion
of the World Bank’s educational activities. The World Bank continues
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to present its educational goals in the framework of economic develop –
ment: “Education is central to development. . . . It is one of the most
powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality and lays a
foundation for sustained economic growth.”
The World Bank and the United Nations share a common educational
network. The World Bank entered into a mutual agreement with the
United Nations in 1947, which specified that the Bank would act as an
independent specialized agency of the United Nations and as an observer
in the United Nations’ General Assembly.
The World Bank supports the United Nations’ Millennium Goals and
Targets, which were endorsed by 189 countries at the 2000 United
Nations Millennium Assembly. The Millennium Goals directly addressing
education issues are:
• Goal 2 Achieve Universal Primary Education: Ensure that by 2015,
children everywhere, boys and girls, will be able to complete a full
course of primary schooling.
• Goal 3 Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women: Eliminate
gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by
2005, and at all levels of education no later than 2015.
These two Millennium Goals were part of the Education for All pro –
gram of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), which had established as two of its global
goals the pro vision of free and compulsory primary education for all
and the achieving of gender parity by 2005 and gender equality by 2015.
Highlighting the intertwined activities of the World Bank and United
Nations agencies is the fact that these two goals were a product of the
1990 World Conference on Education for All convened by the World
Bank, UNESCO, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Develop –
ment Programme (UNDP). This world conference was attended by
repre sentatives from 155 governments.
Discussions about the knowledge economy occur on the networks
linking the World Bank to governments, global intergovernmental and
nongovernmental organizations, and multinational corporations. In its
book Constructing Knowledge Societies, the World Bank declares,
“The ability of a society to produce, select, adapt, commercialize, and
use knowledge is critical for sustained economic growth and improved
living standards.” The book continues, “Knowledge has become the most
important factor in economic development.” The World Bank states that
its assistance for EKE (Education for the Knowledge Economy) is aimed
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at helping countries adapt their entire education systems to the new
challenges of the “learning” economy in “two complementary ways.
. . . Formation of a strong human capital base . . . [and] Construction of
an effective national innovation system.” The creation of a national
innovation system for assisting schools to adapt to the knowledge
economy creates another global network. The World Bank describes this
network: “A national innovation system is a well-articulated network
of firms, research centers, universities, and think tanks that work together
to take advantage of the growing stock of global knowledge, assimilate
and adapt it to local needs, and create new technology.”
Nothing better expresses the World Bank’s commitment to the idea
of a knowledge economy and the role of education in developing human
capital than its publication Lifelong Learning in the Global Know ledge
Economy. The book offers a roadmap for developing countries on how
to prepare their populations for the knowledge economy in order to
bring about economic growth. The role of the World Bank is to loan
money to ensure the growth of an educated labor force that can apply
knowledge to increase productivity. These loans, according to World
Bank policies, might provide support to both public and private edu –
cational institutions. In the framework of public–private partner ships,
the World Bank supports private education in developing countries when
governments cannot afford to support public schools for all.
However, in many countries there are other providers of education.
Private education encompasses a wide range of providers including forprofit schools (that operate as enterprises), religious schools, nonprofit
schools run by NGOs, publicly funded schools operated by private boards,
and community owned schools. In other words, there is a market for
education. In low-income countries excess demand for schooling results
in private supply when the state cannot afford schooling for all.
The global education business is supported by human capital education
ideology. The 1995 creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
opened the door to the prospect of free trade in educational materials
and services, and the marketing of higher education. The General
Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Article XXVIII, provides the
following definition: “ ‘supply of a service’ includes the production,
distribution, marketing, sale and delivery of a service.” Educational
services are included under this definition.
What types of educational services are covered by GATS? Writing
about the effect of GATS on higher education, Jane Knight used the
following classifications of educational services. First, according to
Knight’s classification, is “cross-border supply” which includes distance
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learning, e-learning, and virtual universities. “Consumption abroad” is
the largest share of the global market in educational services involving
students who go to another country to study. “Commercial presence”
means the establishment of facilities in another country, such as branch
campuses and franchising arrangements in another country. The travel
of scholars, researchers, and teachers to another country to work falls
under the classification of “presence of natural persons.”
In Chapter 8 I discussed the development of global education business,
including for-profit schools, tutoring and test preparation centers, and
the global publishing industry. These industries have a stake in human
capital education because of its reliance on test publishing companies,
the lack of enough publicly supported schools in some countries allowing
room for for-profits, and the anxieties of parents, which result in sending
their children to for-profit test preparation and tutoring centers.
The global education businesses are contributing a global uniformity
of schooling. What is the cultural effect of this uniformity? What is the
effect on students preparing for the same examinations? Does the global
marketing of tests and testing programs of international organizations
contribute to a uniformity of world education culture and promotion of
English as the global language? Is worldwide testing leading to a global
standardization of knowledge in professional fields? At this time any
answer would have to be speculative since there is no concrete evidence
about the effect of global testing programs. However, one could argue
that if students worldwide are preparing for similar tests then they are
being exposed to a uniform educational and professional culture that
might contribute to creating a world culture.
The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational
Achievement (IEA) first demonstrated the possibility of making com –
parisons between test scores of different nations. Founded in 1967 with
origins dating back to a UNESCO gathering in 1958, the IEA initially
attempted to identify through testing effective educational methods that
could be shared between nations. According to the organization’s official
history, the original group of psychometricians, educational psychol –
ogists, and sociologists thought of education as a global enterprise to
be evaluated by national comparisons of test scores. They “viewed the
world as a natural educational laboratory, where different school systems
experiment in different ways to obtain optimal results in the education
of their youth.” They assumed that educational goals were similar between
nations but that the methods of achieving those goals were different.
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International testing, it was believed, would reveal to the world
community the best educational practices. The organization tried to prove
that large-scale cross-cultural testing was possible when between 1959
and 1962 they tested thirteen-year-olds in twelve countries in mathe –
matics, reading comprehension, geography, science, and nonverbal ability.
The results of this project showed, according to an IEA statement, that
“it is possible to construct common tests and questionnaires that ‘work’
cross-culturally. Furthermore, the study revealed that the effects of
language differences can be minimized through the careful translation
of instruments.”
Besides demonstrating the possibility of global testing programs, the
IEA claimed to have an effect on the curriculum of participating nations.
After a 1970 seminar on Curriculum Development and Evaluation
involving twenty-three countries, IEA officials claimed that “this seminar
had a major influence on curriculum development in at least two-thirds
of the countries that attended.” Through the years the IEA has con –
ducted a number of international testing programs and studies, including
First International Mathematics Study (FIMS), Second International
Mathe matics Study (SIMS), International Science Study (ISS), Preprimary
Education (PPP), Computers in Education Study (COMPED), Information
Tech nology in Education (ITE), Civic Education Study (CIVED), and
Languages in Education Study (LES).
In 1995, the IEA worked with the OECD to collect data for the Third
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). IEA officials called
the 1995 TIMSS “the largest and most ambitious study of comparative
education undertaken.” They claimed that “It was made possible by
virtue of IEA experience and expertise, developed through the years of
consecutive studies, which saw research vision combining with practical
needs as defined by educational policy-makers.”
Today, the IEA remains a possible source for creating uniform
worldwide educational practices. The organization’s stated goal is to
create global educational benchmarks by which educational systems can
be judged. In fact, the following mission statement includes the creation
of a global network of educational evaluators.
The worldwide standardization of professional knowledge might be
a result of the marketing prowess of Pearson, the global corporation
discussed in the last section of this chapter. Pearson markets its inter –
national computer-based tests through its Pearson VUE division.
According to the company’s official history, in 1994 the Virtual University
Enterprises (VUE) were established by three pioneers in the field of
electronic tests, including the developer of the first electronic system,
E. Clarke Porter. Pearson purchased VUE in 2000. In 2006, Pearson
acquired Promissor, a provider of knowledge measurement services, which
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certifies professionals in a variety of fields. Focusing on the certification
of professionals, Pearson VUE serves 162 countries with 4,400 Pearson
VUE Testing Centers. “Today,” according to its company description,
“Pearson VUE, Pearson’s computer-based testing business unit, serves
the Information Technology industry and the professional certification,
licensor, and regulatory markets. From operational centers in the United
States, the United Kingdom, India, Japan, and China, the business
provides a variety of services to the electronic testing market.”
The range of computer-based tests offered by Pearson is astonishing
and it is beyond the scope of this book to list all the tests. However,
Pearson VUE provides the following categories of online tests: Academic/
Admissions; Driving Tests; Employment, Human Resources and Safety;
Financial Services, Health, Medicine; Information Technology (IT);
Insurance; Legal Services; Real Estate, Appraisers and Inspectors; and
State Regulated. On December 17, 2007 Pearson VUE announced that
it had signed a contract with the Association for Financial Professions
to provide test development to be delivered globally in over 230 Pearson
Professional Centers by its Pearson VUE Authorized Test Centers. On
the same date it announced renewal of its contract with Kaplan Test
Prep for delivery of the “Ultimate Practice Test” for another Pearson
VUE test—the Graduate Management Admission Test.
While Pearson VUE may be aiding the global standardization of
professions and government licensing, worldwide language testing is
possibly resulting in the standardization of a global English language
as contrasted with forms of English associated with particular cultures
or nations. As I discuss in the following text, global standardization of
English, which in part involves the global reach of the U.S.-based
Educational Testing Service (ETS), seems to be in the form of a global
business English that allows communication across cultures in the
world’s workplaces. Focused primarily on work situations, it may result
in teaching a limited vocabulary. This form of English may, and again
I want to stress the word “may,” limit the ability of workers to express
in English their discontent and demands for change regarding economic,
political, and social conditions. The trend to a global business English
was reflected on a sign I saw in Shanghai that read, “Learn the English
words your bosses want to hear!”
Until 2000, ETS primarily focused on the U.S. testing market. In
2000, business executive Kurt Landgraf became president and CEO,
turning a nonprofit organization into one that looks like a for-profit
with earnings of more than $800 million a year. As part of Landgraf’s
planning, the company expanded into 180 countries. “Our mission is
not just a U.S.-oriented mission but a global mission,” Landgraf is quoted
as saying in a magazine article. “We can offer educational systems to
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the world, but to do that, you have to take a lesson from the commercial
world [author’s emphasis].” The official corporate description of ETS’s
global marketing is:
ETS’s Global Division and its subsidiaries fulfill ETS’s mission in
markets around the world. We assist businesses, educational insti –
tu tions, governments, ministries of education, professional organiza tions, and test takers by designing, developing and delivering
ETS’s standard and customized measurement products and services
which include assessments, preparation materials and technical
An important role of the Global Division is standardizing English as
a global language. Almost all of its products are for English language
learners. The division markets the widely used Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL), Test of English for International Communication
(TOEIC), and Test of Spoken English (TSE). TOEFL has long served as
an assessment tool for determining the English language ability of foreign
students seeking admission into U.S. universities. In 2002, ETS opened
a Beijing, China office and began marketing TOEIC along with TOEFL.
In addition, the Global Division offers TOEFL Practice Online, which
indirectly serves as a teaching tool for English instruction. In March
2007 ETS proudly announced that the service had been extended to its
Chinese market. The Test of English for Distance Education (TEDE) is
used worldwide to determine if a student has enough skills in English
to participate in online courses conducted in English. Criterion is a webbased Online Writing Evaluation that promises to evaluate student writing
skills in seconds. In 2007 ETS’s Criterion won highest honors from the
Global Learning Consortium. In addition to all these tests associated
with global English, ETS offers ProofWriter, an online tool that provides
immediate feedback on grammar and editing issues for English language
In another major step in the global standardization of English, ETS
and G2nd Systems signed an agreement in 2007 for G2nd Systems to
join ETS’s Preferred Vendor Network and to use TOEIC. G2nd Systems
is promoting an intercultural form of English for use in the global
workplace. “G2nd Systems defines the way people use non-culture-specific
English in workplace environments as intercultural English, which is not
the same as any national version of English that naturally includes cultural
presumptions, idioms and local ways of communicating ideas,” explains
Lorelei Carobolante, CEO of G2nd Systems in a news release from
ETS. “TOEIC test scores indicate how well people can communicate in
English with others in today’s globally diverse workplace. G2nd Systems
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recognizes that measuring proficiency in English speaking and writing
capabilities allows business professionals, teams and organizations to
implement focused language strategies that will improve organizational
effectiveness, customer satisfaction and employee productivity.”
A for-profit corporation, G2nd advertises itself as “Global Collabor –
ative Business Environments across multiple cultures at the same time!”
and “Global Second language Approach.” The corporate announce ment
of its affiliation with ETS states: “Today, over 5,000 corporations in
more than 60 countries use the TOEIC test, and 4.5 million people take
the test every year.” G2nd Systems offers instruction in an intercultural
form of English as opposed to the English of particular countries such as
India, Britain, or the United States. Referring to “Intercultural English—
A New Global Tool,” the company explains, “Intercultural English devel –
oped in response to the new dynamics emerging in today’s global business
environment, characterized by multiple cultures operating in a collab –
orative structure to execute projects that are often geo graphic ally
dis persed.” Highlighting the supposedly culturally neutral form of English
taught by the organization it claims: “Intercultural English is a com –
munication tool rather than a national version of any language, and this
tool is as vital as mathematics or computer literacy in facilitating normal
business processes [author’s emphasis].”
In summary, the expansion of international testing might result in
global standardization of school subjects, professional knowledge
requirements, and English. It would be interesting to analyze the content
of all the various tests offered by Pearson on the standardization of
professional knowledge. By using online tests Pearson is able to engage
in global marketing. It would seem hard to deny that between ETS’s
range of English tests, its online services in English composition, and its
connection with G2nd Systems that it is having a global impact on how
English is spoken and written. Can English as a global language be
standardized so that it is not identified with a particular culture or nation?
Across the globe from Japan to India to Cape Town to Buenos Aires to
the United States, parents worry about their children’s grades and test
scores because they are tied to their children’s future economic success.
Consequently, they seek out test preparation or cram schools and private
learning services to help their children after school hours.
World culture theorists Baker and LeTendre label supplementary
education providers as the “shadow education system.” From the per –
spective of the twenty-first century, the authors see a global growth of
the shadow education system as pressures mount for students to pass
high-stakes tests and the world’s governments attempt to closely link
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student achievement to future jobs. In their words, “Mass schooling sets
the stage for the increasing importance of education as an institution,
and to the degree that this process creates greater demand for quality
schooling than is supplied, augmentation through shadow education is
Baker and LeTendre predict that shadow education systems will
continue to grow as nations embrace human capital forms of schooling.
Simply put, as schooling is made more important for a child’s future,
families will invest more money in tutoring services for remedial education
and for providing for enhanced school achievement.
Interested in joining the for-profit shadow education system? Sylvan
Learning offers franchises requiring an initial investment of $179,000
to $305,000 to people having a minimum net worth of $250,000. By
offering K–12 tutoring services it is able to take advantage of government
funds provided for for-profit educational services. Depending on the
location, the franchise fee is from $42,000 to $48,000. Why might
you choose Sylvan? The company advertises its sale of franchises by
pointing out that it has served 2 million students since 1979, was ranked
twenty-four times in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 Ranking,
number sixty-one overall in its 2009 Franchise 500 Ranking, and number
fifty-two in the publication’s Top Global Franchises ranking. It was
ranked in Bond’s Top 100 Franchises and number fifty-seven in the 2008
Franchise Times’ Top 200 Systems. In addition, the Sylvan Learning
franchise brand was selected the best educational provider in
Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnect’s First Annual Parents’ Picks Awards and
as Favorite Kids Learning Center by If you happen to
be Hispanic, you might be tempted to invest in a franchise because Sylvan
Learning was identified by Poder Enterprise Magazine as one of the Top
25 Franchises for Hispanics in April 2009.
Sylvan Learning’s promotion of its franchises highlights the political
stake it has in the continued government funding of for-profit supple –
mentary education services. It functions like any corporation trying to
expand its reach and profits. Like any corporation it relies on having a
global brand name that is impressed on the public through its $40 million
advertising and marketing program. In the midst of the 2010 recession
the company claimed, “Despite the economy, now is the right time to
enter the supplemental education industry. According to Eduventures,
Inc., the current demand is strong and the market is projected to continue
with double-digit growth.” The company claimed that when in 2008 it
decided to focus on “franchising to local entrepreneurs and business
operators who can respond to the particular needs of each community
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while utilizing the tools, resources and brand equity of the Sylvan name”
it grew by 150 percent.
Sylvan Learning is also a global company with tutoring services located
in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Kuwait,
Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. While this global reach is relatively
small, it does indicate a potential future for Sylvan Learning as a major
global education company.
Kumon Learning Centers has a vast number of global franchises with
over 25,000 franchises in other countries. The Kumon Learning Centers
were founded in Japan in 1958 by Toru Kumon. In 2010 the company
was ranked number twelve in a list of franchises that included, beginning
with number one, Subway followed by McDonald’s, 7-Eleven Inc.,
Hampton Inn, Supercuts, H&R Block, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jani-King,
Servpro, ampm Mini Market, and Jan-Pro Franchising International Inc.
This is a pretty impressive list and indicates the growing global importance
of the shadow education industry. In 2009, Kumon Learning Centers
enrolled 4.2 million students in forty-six countries.
Another global example is Kaplan, which started as a test preparation
company and is now a global company operating for-profit schools
along with test preparation and language instruction. Kaplan’s oper ations
in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing are advertised as meeting
“students’ demand for Western-style education.” In ten European
countries it offers test preparation and English language instruction. “In
the UK,” Kaplan states, “we are one of the largest providers of account –
ancy training and private higher education. We also operate the Dublin
Business School, Ireland’s largest private under graduate college.” Kaplan
operates Tel Aviv-based Kidum, the largest provider of test preparation
in Israel. In Brazil, Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela, Kaplan operates
English language and test preparation programs designed to prepare
students for admission to schools in the United States.
In summary, the shadow education system is now an important player
in national and global politics. The agenda of these supplementary educa –
tion services focuses on increasing revenues by lobbying for government
financial support and school policies supporting assessment systems that
drive students into buying their services. These companies are also seeking
to expand revenues through globalization of their products and by
expanding into new areas such as for-profit schools and English language
Human capital ideology dominates global education discourses. Human
capital ideology supports the educational policies that will maximize
profits for education businesses. Human capital ideology supports the
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testing companies and the shadow education industry because of the
ideologies’ emphasis on high-stakes testing to promote and sort students
for careers and higher education and for evaluating teachers and school
administrators. By schools putting testing pressure on students, parents
are willing to fork out extra money to the shadow education industry.
Consequently, the shadow education system and multinational testing
corporations are interested in public acceptance of human capital ideology
and the legitimization of assessment-driven school systems.
In my book A New Paradigm for Global School Systems: Education
for a Long and Happy Life, I offer an alternative to the current global
focus on human capital education and consumerism. I propose that school
policies be evaluated on their contribution to the social conditions that
provide the conditions for human happiness and longevity rather than
being judged by their contribution to economic growth and income.
There is a great deal of international research on the social conditions
that promote happiness and a long life. My work represents one effort
to try and shift thinking about educational policies.
Achieve, Inc. and National Governors Association. America’s High Schools: The Front Line
in the Battle for Our Economic Future. Washington DC: Achieve, Inc. and National
Governors Association, 2003.
Illustrates human capital ideas related to the global economy.
Anderson Levitt, Kathryn, ed. Local Meanings, Global Schooling: Anthropology and World
Culture Theory. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Emphasizes local power over global education policies.
Baker, David P. and Gerald K. LeTendre. National Differences, Global Similarities: World Culture
and the Future of Schooling. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.
Classic statement of world theorists that global education is evolving according to a Western
Breton, Gilles and Michel Lambert, eds. Universities and Globalization: Private Linkages, Public
Trust. Quebec, Canada: UNESCO, 2003.
Good discussion of the globalization of higher education.
Dale, Roger and Susan Robertson. “Editorial: Introduction.” In Globalisation, Societies and
Education, Vol. 1, no. 1 (2003): 3–11.
This introduction defines the field of educational globalization.
Educational Testing Service. “ETS Global.” Retrieved on July 12, 2007 from
Profiles the global reach of Educational Testing Services.
Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.
This book criticizes the programs of the World Bank.
International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. “Brief History of IEA.”
Retrieved on January 28, 2008 from
A history of the early development of global testing programs.
Keeley, Brian. Human Capital: How What You Know Shapes Your Life. Paris: OECD Publishing,
OECD’s statement of human capital education.
Spring, Joel. American Education, Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, 320 POWER AND CONTROL IN AMERICAN EDUCATION
Created from usf on 2020-04-01 13:30:43. Copyright © 2017. Routledge. All rights reserved.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Directorate for Education.
Trends Shaping Education 2013. Paris: OECD Publishing, 2013.
OECD’s perspective on the future of global education systems.
–––. “UNESCO Ministerial Round Table on Education and Economic Development: Keynote
Speech by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary–General Paris, 19 October 2007.” Retrieved on
November 13, 2010 from,3343,en_2649_33723_1_1_1_1,00.
Example of OECD’s approach to education issues.
–––. The Well-Being of Nations: The Role of Human and Social Capital Education and Skills.
Paris: OECD Publishing, 2001.
This book describes the OECD’s intention to use global schools to educate workers to
meet the needs of global corporations.
Patten, Simon. The New Basis of Civilization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968.
Early statement of consumerism as a driving force in the modern economy.
Pearson VUE. “About Pearson VUE: Company History.” Retrieved on January 9, 2008 from
History of Pearson’s involvement in testing.
Spring, Joel. Globalization and Educational Rights: An Intercivilizational Analysis. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.
This book calls for a global standard for educational rights.
–––. The Economization of Education. New York: Routledge, 2015.
Examines the increasing role of economists in influencing global education policies.
–––. A New Paradigm for Global School Systems: Education for a Long and Happy Life. New
York: Routledge, 2007.
This book advocates basing global education on the goals of happiness and longevity.
–––. Education and the Rise of the Global Economy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998.
A study of the globalization of human capital theories of education.
–––. Globalization of Education: An Introduction, Second Edition. New York: Routledge,
This book provides a global perspective on the development of contemporary education
Stromquist, Nelly P. Education in a Globalized World: The Connectivity of Economic Power,
Technology, and Knowledge. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
Stromquist, Nelly P. and Karen Monkman, eds. Globalization and Education: Integration and
Contestation Across Cultures. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
UNESCO. “Education for All (EFA) International Coordination: The Six EFA Goals and MDGs.”
Retrieved on October 5, 2007 from
World Bank. “About Us: Organization: Boards of Directors.” Retrieved on July 17, 2007 from, para. 1.
–––. A Guide to the World Bank, Second Edition. Washington DC: World Bank, 2007.
–––. Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries.
Washington DC: World Bank, 2003.
–––. Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education. Washington
DC: World Bank, 2002.
World Economic Forum. Education and Skills 2.0: New Targets and Innovative Approaches.
Geneva: World Economic Forum, January 2014.
This report emphasizes the role of global school systems in teaching skills wanted by
World Trade Organization. WTO Legal Texts: The Uruguay Round Agreements: Annex 1B
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Retrieved on November 28, 2007 from
Spring, Joel. American Education, Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from usf on 2020-04-01 13:30:43. Copyright © 2017. Routledge. All rights reserved.
Spring, Joel. American Education, Routledge, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from usf on 2020-04-01 13:30:43. Copyright © 2017. Routledge. All rights reserved.

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