chapter  2
Measuring and Fixing, Filling and Drilling: The ExxonMobil Agenda for Education
Pages 16

The state of public education is a concern shared not only by students, parents, teachers, and school officials, but also by members of the business community.1 For the past two decades, corporations such as ExxonMobil have been adopting education reform and applying market-influenced “solutions” such as “accountability” and “choice” initiatives to identify and “fix” what, in their view, is wrong with public schools. Such reform measures are controversial. Though public schools might improve by the use of choice (i.e., vouchers, charter schools, contract management, and so forth) and by being “held accountable” for student learning, some analysts hold that reforms based on free-market ideology,2 whereby schools ultimately become profit-making, entrepreneurial entities, support an agenda to end all government participation in education.3 These ideas coincide with the free market’s self-promotional campaign to “establish itself as the true provider of equity and opportunity in the ‘objective’

realm of capital, and to provide so-called objective ‘proof of public sector failure.”4 The seemingly neutral terms choice and accountability are often used in the language of school reform. Behind these terms lies what Boyles refers to as a “language of economics”5 that supports the agenda to transform public schools in the image of the marketplace. In other words, education should be reformed according to marketplace ideology using market-based techniques to meet the needs of the workplace.