Politics, Markets and Schools

April 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

This is a presentation I will be making at the University of Nottingham (EdD Study School) on 17th May and University of Leicester (Social Justice in Education SIG) on 20th May – details here  Leicester SJ SIG.  The full powerpoint isn here:


It is nearly a quarter of a century since John Chubb and Terry Moe made their case for the privatisation of America’s public education system Politics, Markets and America’s schools (1990). It is 25 years since the Education Reform Act in England set in motion a similar set of reforms in England. Since that time the neoliberal restructuring of public education has continued apace.  The trajectory of policy in the USA and in England has spearheaded a globalised education reform movement (Sahlberg, 2011) that directly challenges the concepts of public provision and local democratic accountability in schooling.

In this presentation I seek to argue that any serious analysis of education reform movements in the USA, England and elsewhere must start by understanding how current education policy is shaped by neoliberal ideas, the role of the market and the centrality of ‘choice’.  The presentation seeks to connect contemporary policy discourses with their origins in the work of Hayek, Friedman and the wider New Right and to show how these influences are reflected in current government policy.

What can an understanding of the past, and the genealogy of current neoliberal thinking, tell us about the possible future of schooling in a post-welfarist world? Can a marketised school system be reconciled with a notion of social justice? Finally, is it possible to re-imagine a public education system that rejects market values and asserts the principles of popular democratic control?


One response to Politics, Markets and Schools


    Looking forward to the ppt – Dave Hill offers one very good resource for understanding how current policy is shaped by neo-liberal/neo conservative ideas (http://www.libr.org/isc/issues/ISC23/B1%20Dave%20Hill.pdf). Is it possible that Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ could, in the context of such extreme neolib/neocon dominant cultures, result in popular democratic control of public education/schooling? I know that in one sense this is exactly his argument but taking it to extremes…. or does Zizeck have an answer(parallax view) … either way am hoping that a re-imaginig emerges from this that can inform Mick Water’s push for an Education Spring.

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