Neoliberalism and education

In Randall R. Curren (ed.), Handbook of philosophy of education. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 257-269 (2023)
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Neoliberalism is an approach to social policy, now globally influential, that applies market approaches to all aspects of social life, including education. Charter schools, privately operated but publicly funded, are its most prominent manifestation in the U.S. The neoliberal principles of competition, consumerism, and choice cannot serve as foundations of a sound and equitable public education system. Neoliberalism embraces socio-economic inequality overall and in doing so constricts any justice mission its adherents espouse in virtue of serving a relatively disadvantaged student population, as charter schools often (by no means always) do. It constricts educational justice by (1) embracing a “human capital” approach as the primary good of education, (2) creating educational inequality through (unofficially) selecting a relatively advantaged segment of the disadvantaged demographic it serves, (3) denying the effect of poverty on educational performance, and (4) devaluing its students’ familial ethnic cultures.

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Lawrence Blum
University of Massachusetts, Boston


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