T. Jameson Brewer, Ph.D.
While think tanks are a global phenomenon, their role in shaping US policy offers an instructive example of think tank influence on policymaking due to the immensity of resources directed towards those ends, with education policy serving as a prime example. Focusing on a distinct set of ‘‘incentivist’’ education policies, this analysis describes the think tank-philanthropy linkage in US education policymaking. We offer examples of how philanthropists provide financial, empirical and political resources to advance think tanks’ policy ideas through advocacy networks; describe the multiple functions performed through advocacy networks of intermediary organisations, noting the diffusion of form and function around tasks such as knowledge production, political and media support; and we highlight the ways in which US venture philanthropists and think tanks connect around ‘‘idea orchestration’’ in order to advance ideas in policy processes. We suggest that, especially in the realm of incentivist policies, think tanks do not appear to produce or incubate but rather promote ideas, and actually often only a single idea. The concluding discussion considers advantages evident in idea orchestration and the implications of private control of public policymaking.
Educator, RESEARCHER, author
Educational reforms have become the new policy mainstay in educational discourse and policy. Without doubt, “fixing” teachers and increasing student test scores have both been a large component of much of the reform rhetoric. Moreover, calls for implementing merit pay schemes have uniquely combined reformer’s efforts to “fix” teachers while increasing test scores as teacher pay is linked directly to student academic achievement. This article traces the historical use of merit pay schemes, situates the current push for merit pay within the neoliberal education reform movement, while highlighting the overt and covert implications of injecting competition into teacher salaries. In addition to creating an environment that lends itself to narrowed pedagogical approaches and teaching to tests (and even cheating on them), this article suggests that merit pay schemes that require teachers to compete with one another may likely undermines positive collaboration.
In 1971, corporate lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell wrote a detailed memo that galvanized a small group of conservative philanthropists to create an organizational structure and fifty-year plan to alter the political landscape of the United States. Funded with significant “dark money,” the fruits of their labor are evident today in the current political context and sharp cultural divisions in society. Philanthropy, Hidden Strategy, and Collective Resistance examines the ideologies behind the philanthropic efforts in education from the 1970s until today. Authors examine specific strategies philanthropists have used to impact both educational policy and practice in the U.S. as well as the legal and policy context in which these initiatives have thrived. The book, aimed for a broad audience of educators, provides a depth of knowledge of philanthropic funding as well as specific strategies to incite collective resistance to the current context of hyperaccountability, privatization of schooling at all levels, and attempts to move the U.S. further away from a commitment to the collective good.
Educating aspiring teachers for the workforce is a crucial consideration for states and nations. But in an age of consumer choice, decentralization, and deregulation in education, as in other areas, policymakers sometimes demonstrate surprisingly little awareness of the impacts of such popular reforms on those doing the actual teaching, and especially on their preparation for the profession. This raises a number of questions: To what extent has the push for privatization and marketization of education shaped how we recruit and train the next generation of teachers? What are they taught and why? How do such policies impact the dispositions of colleges of education and alternative teacher certification organizations? The growing tide of educational reforms that seek to inject competition into education schools’ “monopoly” on teacher training find ideological roots in Friedmanism and the push for deregulation in the 1980s. Readers of this text will develop a more robust understanding of the nature of teacher preparation – broadly conceived – as well as an in-depth understanding of how these policies, practices, and ideology have taken root in colleges of education and alternative certification programs domestically and internationally. Becoming a Teacher in an Age of Reform: Global Lessons for Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession is Co-Edited by T. Jameson Brewer and Christopher A. Lubienski.