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Title: The P-TECH model : an embedded case study of digital inequalities and private sector involvement in U.S. public education
Author: Mustain, Paige
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6231
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Amidst a rapidly changing educational landscape that is increasingly becoming corporatised, technology companies and wealthy techno-venture-philanthropists have demonstrated significant interest in education reform. According to the 2012 American Revolution 2.0 report, the US K-12 education market is valued at over $2.2 trillion. The emphasis placed on 21st century skills and the continued fiscal starvation of public education has enabled technology companies to entrench themselves in education. Technical catalysts for education reform including affordable hardware such as Chromebooks and cloud computing with Google's G-Suite have been the primary methods for technological integration in public schools. What is distinct about the contemporary reform movement is that it is being led and shaped by Silicon Valley values and interests. I refer to this contemporary movement as technocratic corporate reform. Encapsulating the trends and characteristics of the technocratic corporate reform is IBM's Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model. The model, first implemented in 2011, is a STEM-focused six-year high school model built around a public-private partnership between industry, school districts, and community colleges. Notably, it was designed to serve marginalised students by providing the opportunity to earn an associate's degree at no cost. P-TECH serves as the focus of this study. This research entails a mixed-methods embedded case study research design examining three P-TECH model schools across the country. It includes 60 in-depth interviews with private partners, educators, and students across each school, participant observations, and a multi-level social network analysis of the P-TECH network. It employs a unique theoretical framework that combines the political economy of communication and cultural studies perspectives. By adopting both perspectives this research is able to capture what is happening in education at the macro and micro scales. Utilising theories of digital capitalism and Pierre Bourdieu's theory of social reproduction this study provides an analysis of the underlying values, interests, and aims of P-TECH and its implications for the K-12 system. The micro level analysis unveils the ways in which P-TECH is influencing students' identities and aspirations. It outlines the unintended consequences of this and the subsequent risk of reproducing the very inequalities the model was created to ameliorate. This thesis ultimately maps how the US K-12 education system is being reimagined and restructured according to the agenda of technology elites.
Supervisor: Eynon, Rebecca ; Meyer, Eric Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Communication ; Education ; Social Sciences