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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

National Education Summits

National Education Goals Summit, 1989

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It was held and attended by President Bush, state governors and CEOs from around the nation. Bush accepted the business proposition that the school system required a total restructuring and incorporated it in his administration’s education policy, leading to America 2000: An Education Strategy, authored by David Kearns of Xerox, his education secretary Lamar Alexander, and Diane Ravich and launched in 1991. It promoted “national academic standards, national achievement tests and corporate involvement in schools”.

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The Goals 2000: Educate America Act that was passed in 1994 did not vary much from America 2000. It established a National Education Standards and Improvement Council to promote national standards for core academic subjects.

National Education Summit, 1996

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40 state governors and 49 corporate CEOs met at IBM headquarters to plan a second phase in the campaign for public school reform. This time they were welcomed by President Bill Clinton. The Summit reaffirmed the emphasis on standards, testing and accountability. They formed an organization called Achieve, Inc. to lead and sustain the campaign and to provide resources  to states implementing standards and testing. For several years the Louis Gerstner, CEO of IBM, co-chaired Achieve.

National Education Summit, 1999

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24 governors and 33 business leaders met at IBM headquarters as well as state superintendents and other invited guests. President Clinton again addressed the conference as did Gerstner, co-chair of the summit. School principals, teachers and students were not invited. The conference again reiterated the need for every state to “adopt standards backed-up by standardized tests” and “a system of ‘rewards and consequences’ for teachers, students, and schools based on those tests”.

It recommended that teachers, too, should have to pass standardised content tests before they are certified and that teacher pay increments be linked to student achievement on standardised tests.

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