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IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA.

IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and offers infrastructure services, hosting services, and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology.

IBM lobbies for education reform

IBM lobbies for the reform of schools: through the greater use of technology and the collection and opening up of education data; changes to the curriculum; and greater corporate involvement in school systems.

In other words, it lobbies to change how children learn, what they learn, and where they are taught.

IBM sells, for example, data and analytics products to schools and schools systems, which is changing teaching practices. It also lobbies for curriculum reform - it has been part of the huge tech coalition lobbying for the teaching of computer science around the world – due to what it calls the 'lack of future capacity' in skilled workers. And it has funded new schools and school models in the US, which have much more corporate involvement in curriculum.

According to IBM:

'For a six-year-old starting school today, it will be a very different world when she is ready to enter the workforce. Every two years, the current rate of information growth nearly doubles. To carry the entire world’s current knowledge, she would need 64 backpacks by the time she graduates from high school. '[1] (a statement that ironically features in a publication called: 'Education for a Smarter Planet').
'So how do we shape an education to meet expectations we don’t understand yet?'

Selling the solutions to schools

Big data and analytics are key to improving schools, according to IBM: 'data about what students learn and how they progress' and data about how institutions like schools operate (attendance records, or energy use for example). Among IBM's analytics products, for example, is a tool for student retention, that helps schools bring together academic and non-academic data on pupils to identify those at-risk and build an intervention plan to keep them in school.

IBM's failed education data system

In 2007, the New York City Department of Education, under the leadership of Joel Klein, tried to put some of these ideas into practice. It issued an $81 million contract to IBM to develop a comprehensive data system across all of NYC's schools: ARIS (Achievement Reporting and Innovation System).

ARIS was intended to bring together data that had previously been located in different systems: student biographical data, attendance and year group data; information on pupils for possible special education services; and data on scheduling and tracking pupil progress. One of the aims was to give teachers and parents access to pupils test scores, as well as teaching resources.

The implementation and management of the tool was handed over to another company Wireless Generation during the last years of Joel Klein's tenure as Chancellor of NYC's schools. Wireless Generation was then bought by Amplify, owned by News Corp. Klein became CEO of Amplify in January 2011.

ARIS suffered from cost overruns and delays, and eventually cost $95m. It was unpopular with teachers and suffered from low usage. According to a NY Daily News piece, in 2012-13 only 3% of parents and 16% of teachers used the system. This combined with the high cost and limited functionality led to the closure of ARIS in 2014.[2]

Shaping school systems

In 1994, IBM announced it would invest most of its charitable giving in a grant program called 'Reinventing Education'.

Reinventing Education was founded on the belief that business needed to be get more involved in education and that public education needed to be 'revolutionized' through technology. [3]

The reform programme was worth $75 million by 2005. However, it was not without its critics. A study that looked at IBM's impact on one particular community in the US, criticised the programme for 'working to create policy changes that would help provide high-quality, racially segregated schools for their incoming professional and executive families'.[4]

More recently, IBM has expressed a belief that 'the public, private and not-for-profit sectors should partner with one another to create a new model for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and workplace preparedness'.[5]

In 2011, IBM partnered with the New York City Education Department to open the first of its 'P-TECH' schools. P-TECHs, or 'Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools' cover high school and two years of college and focus on IT skills and other STEM subjects. The curriculum has been 'shaped' by corporate partners. The model has been replicated elsewhere and 100 P-TECH schools are expected to be operating by 2016.

IBM has also been part of the push by technology giants, among others, to get coding and computer science on curricula in countries around the world. When the UK government agreed to introduce a new computing curriculum from September 2014, IBM alongside Microsoft, Google and others, came together with the government with a programme to train teachers to teach the new curriculum.[6]

IBM sees this 'dissolving of boundries' between schools and colleges and employers as the future. It calls this 'future' the 'education continuum'. This all about 'aligning “talent” in the form of precious human capital in a region to the growth initiatives of a labor market' (making sure children come out with the right skills for jobs?).

What are the trends that are creating the educational continuum? IBM asks. Coincidently, the 'trends' it cites- 'technology immersion, data analytics, personalized learning' - closely align with IBM's commercial products for schools.[7]

PR & Lobbying

Lobbying firms

United States In 2014 IBM spent $4,950,000 lobbying Washington.[8] It employed the following lobbying agencies (as of 2014):

Lobbying groups

It is also a member of the follow groups:[12]

EU lobbying

According to its entry on the EU transparency register, IBM spent 1,500,000 € - 1,749,000 € in 2014 lobbying in Brussels.[13]

IBM has an interest in a wide range of EU policy issues, including: Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme; European Regional Development Fund regulation; the European Cloud Computing Strategy, Communication COM(2012) 529 final; data protection regulations; TTIP, the EU-US trade negotiations.[14]

IBM is also a member of the following European Commission 'expert groups' (advisory groups):

  • The Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group (DG Connect); brings together 'industrial groups, academia, governments, and private individuals to support policies for open innovation at the European Commission'[15]
  • Cloud Computing Strategy Working Groups (DG Connect)[16]
  • NIS Platform (Network and Information Security)[17]
  • JRC Working Groups on Innovation and the role of patents]] (Joint Research Centre - the European Commission's 'in-house science service')[18]
  • ITS Platform (Intelligent Transport Systems)


UK political affiliations




  • Michael King: Vice President and General Manager, Global Education Industry at IBM; 'represents IBM at all levels of government and education policy issues around the globe'[22]
  • Alex Kaplan 'Global Leader, Personalized Learning On Cloud'
  • Alison Orsi, vice-president of marketing, communications and citizenship at IBM


  • Website:
  • Address:
HQ: New Orchard Road, 1; Armonk; New York; 10504
Brussels: Avenue de Cortenbergh, 116; Bruxelles 1000


  1. Education for a Smarter Planet, IBM website, accessed Nov 2015
  2. NYC Says Goodbye To ARIS, Plans To Build From Within, EdSurge, 18 Nov 2014
  3. BM Reinventing Education: Research Summary and Perspective, Center for Children and Technology, 1 June 2001
  4. 'IBM: A Case Study of Corporate Involvement in Local Educational Reform', by Roslyn Mickelson, University of North Carolina, 1999
  5. IBM and P-TECH, IBM press release, accessed November 2015
  6. Microsoft, Google and IBM to help train computing teachers, UK government press release, 3 June 2014
  7. The future of learning: Enabling economic growth, IBM publication, 2014
  8. IBM profile, Open Secrets, accessed November 2015
  9. IBM profile, Open Secrets, accessed November 2015
  10. The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008
  11. ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, accessed November 2015
  12. IBM Corp, EU transparency register, accessed November 2015
  13. IBM Corp, EU transparency register, accessed November 2015
  14. IBM Corp, EU transparency register, accessed November 2015
  15. OISPG, EC website, accessed Nov 2015
  16. Cloud Computing Strategy Working Groups, accessed Nov 2015
  17. NIS Platform, European Union Agency for Network and Information Security website], accessed November 2015
  18. Joint Research Centre, accessed Nov 2015
  19. AIOTI, accessed Nov 2015
  20. Controlled Foreign Companies (CFCs) working groups and committees: Working group on CFC interim improvements (established July 2010), acc 5 October 2011
  21. IBM Corp, EU transparency register, accessed November 2015
  22. Michael King, LinkedIn profile, accessed Nov 2015