EDL 696A-001

Neoliberalism, and Education










Neoliberalism on Education and Race

Reena Joseph





very design of neoliberal principles is a direct attack on democracy.”



Neoliberalism is a complex subject especially
when we think about class, race, gender, and education. The World Was II
negatively affected many countries around the world, neoliberalism took shape
to revive the world economy by supporting free trade, competition among
entrepreneurs and globalization.  Neoliberalism
is more than an ideology in fact it is a totality which effects all aspects of
people’s lives, including the government, policies, economy, global relations,
race, class and education. Apart from individual freedom, neoliberalism brought
in some positive changes which includes market innovations, competition, better
variety of products with cheaper price tag. Neoliberalism enhanced
globalization, for example, consumer traders and entrepreneurs have gained
tremendous power in the global market, such as free trade that eliminates
tariffs to benefit free flow of goods from one country to another, to advance the
overall comfort and security of the people.  The government provides social safety net for
the poor people that comes from the taxes paid by the wealthy to supports
welfare for all, which includes, unemployment benefits, public healthcare so
that it overall benefits the poor people to not fall below poverty line. The
philosophy of neoliberalism does not support this practice and reduces tax from
wealthy people.  Neoliberalism, when
viewed through critical theoretical lens, focuses on school choices and
competition in the education system so that it serves the interests of those in
the upper social stratification. It is essential to note that different
ethnicities and race go through different obstacle to educational achievement.  So, how does neoliberalism play out when we
think of education and race? The main of discussion in this paper will be on the
relationship between race, neoliberalism and education and its influence on race
and education. Our weekly class reading will be explored and quoted to support
this papers argument.


The relationship between Neoliberalism, race and education

The purpose of education is to educate children
equally who have goals and aspirations in life to successfully learn and grow
as an educated and a critically minded individual and thoughtful citizen, they
will in turn make the world a better and most importantly a safe place to live
and grow in. The importance to educate developed after the World War II,
education was considered a public good and everyone was give the right to
education no matter from which ethnicity, race, class, and gender people
belonged to. Chubb & Moe (1988, 1064) state
“……the key differences between public and private environments—and
thus between public and private schools—derive from their characteristic
methods of social control: the public schools are subordinates in a hierarchic
system of democratic politics, whereas private schools are largely autonomous
actors “controlled” by the market.” (Chubb & Moe, 1988).  The education system is fractured by
neoliberalism creating segregation, division and resistance. Therefore,
education has not brought openness, on the contrary it has increased the gap
between rich and poor. Marketization, competition and for-profit universities
are common elements at higher education level.” (Miller,
Andrew B, & Whitford, 2016. pp. 136).  Neoliberalism started to emerge in the early
80’s which gradually effected the school systems through deregulation, that
allowed schools to have more choice through charter schools and private
schools, eventually this lead to competition and inequality among
students.  For example, instead of collaborating
and continuing to have equal access to education for all, schools started to compete
for resources which eventually lead to segregation of class and race. Likewise,
in one of our class reading, Hole, noted “…that the neoliberal turn
originated in the postwar struggles to revitalize a dwindling agricultural and
industrial southern economy and to maintain school segregation after the Brown
v. Board of Education.” (Hole 2012). In addition,
the readings from Gloria Ladson-Billings, who talks about “separate schools and
the impact of the achievement gap in terms of educational achievements and
funds allocation in schools that effects students who belong to different race,
ethnic and socioeconomic background.” “The funding disparities that
currently exist between schools serving white students and those serving
students of color are not recent phenomena. Separate schooling always allows
for differential funding. In present-day dollars, the funding disparities
between urban schools and their suburban counterparts present a telling story
about the value we place on the education of different groups of
students.” (Ladson-Billings, 2006).

Schools also increasing became standardized
in the measurement of student’s ability through the rise of standardized
testing. Given the school choices, schools favor students who perform well on
standardized admissions tests and who have high grade point averages (GPAs)
from secondary school. Furthermore, it negatively effects the bright and
creative students who come from low socio-economic status (SES), since the
assessments determine the success level of the student. Furthermore, Au (2011)
states that “By reducing students to numbers, standardized testing creates the
capacity to view students as things, as quantities apart from human
qualities” (Au, 2011, p. 37). Therefor it is
not the students who gets to decide their school choice, but it is the schools
that chooses the students. As we discussed in our class readings, Lipman (2011)
in new book The New Political Economy of Urban Education, “the current
push in education reform is more about political and economic ideology than
about improving schools for the students who are least well served by public
schools. She mentions “turnarounds” specifically, and privately-run
charters in general are used by mayors and other policy makers to gain
political points and make new urban neighborhoods “safe” for the
upper middle class while further marginalizing low income families –
specifically in non-white communities.” (Lipman, 2011). Besides the
students the people who are most affected are teachers. With the increase in
standardization of the curriculum, the teachers have no choice to change the
curriculum to make teaching more creative that meets the students creative and
intellectual levels. Neoliberalism also effects the power to explore new
pedagogy. In a school system the teacher is considered successful or survives if
he/she shows an increase in test score of the students.  This form of system mostly effects the
children who come to schools to learn and explore new concepts and subjects, are
often taught from a uniform curriculum which leads to competition and lack of
creativity, which causes stress in the young minds and lives. The students are
powerless they are trapped in the uniform curriculum, the parents and students
just follow what is offered, they are not challenged which ultimately leads to
drop outs in huge numbers. In the reading from Stitzlein
& Smith (2016). “Teacher turnover produces instability within
schools, communities, and teaching workforces. This is especially true of
charter schools, which experience higher turnover rates than traditional public
schools” (pp.51).  Neoliberalism has
really destructed and negatively impacted the education system.  In the higher education system privatization
has been on anvil for quite some time now and it is justified by the argument
that it improves the quality of education and improves the efficiency of
teachers as well as students. This phenomenon is visible in the way the spread
of private higher educational institutions has been happening and the way the
state managed institutions have been transforming themselves. The private
universities are more overtly selling the so-called skills whereas the state
run institutions have privatized their non-teaching spheres and begun cutting
down the costs involved in hiring the faculty through contractualisation/ casualization
of the teaching labor force. The Universities have become a marketplace in a
neoliberal world.

As stated by Bonilla-Silva in her article,
“Racism is the product of racial domination projects (e.g., colonialism,
slavery, labor migration, etc.), and once this form of social organization
emerged in human history, it became embedded in societies.” (Bonilla-Silva, 2001; Robinson, 2000).   From
one of our class readings, Brown & Delissovoy (2011)
quotes Bonilla-Silva’s argument which suggests that “race and racism are both
systemic and institutional, as opposed to be an outcome of other forms of
oppression (such as that based on class) or an overt and irrational act of
racist practices.” Bonilla-Silva (2006) “…the way
racism is structural and systemic in all racialized social systems the
placement of people in racial categories involves some form of hierarchy that
produces definite social relations between the races. The race placed in the
superior position tends to receive greater economic remuneration and access to
better occupations and/or prospects in the labor market, occupies a primary
position in the political system…” (469–470). 

Besides our class reading, I would also like
to connect how race and education plays out in Michelle
Alexander (2010) book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of
Colorblindness. “millions of black people who were arrested for very minor
crimes, for example, for the possession of drugs, and some for no fault at
all.” (Alexander, 2010). It is crucial for the economy’s growth and progress
that the children from different background, color and ethnicity should be
educated to represent confidently a skilled workforce globally.  Like the prison systems Alexander adds that
the, “people challenge the injustices found within the education systems
regarding race to push for reform. The worst schools can be found in the poor
black communities that lack federal funding which creates a vicious cycle where
many students receive less educational achievement or even struggle to graduate
high school and get recirculated into the prison system.” (Alexander,
2010).  “Without a quality education
it is hard to find success in today’s world. Schools are not preparing and
failing students giving them no choice but to live lives of crime. Once
students are expelled, they are left without educational services and are
forced to drop out of school.” (Alexander, 2010).  “After dropping out, young adolescents
are more susceptible to participating in illegal activity and getting in
trouble with law enforcement. Instead of enforcing policies that lead to kids
going down the wrong path, schools should enforce policies that will benefit
students in the long run.” (Alexander, 2010).

The universities have become money minting
businesses and the student are commodities. The education system is no longer
seen as a social good with essential values and ethics, this practice has negatively
affected human race, especially poor children and women. Because they belong to
different social and cultural background and especially who are not privileged.
To further draw from our weekly readings, Lipman in her book states that “to
bring education, along with other public sectors, in line with the goals of
capital accumulation and managerial governance and administration” (Lipman, 2011, p. 14). The politics and neoliberal
ideology of the current education climate in the United States, which is more
focused on politician and money-making ideologies than focusing on fixing the
broken education system or catering to the poor children who are not well
served when it comes to their intellectual curiosity and development.  







Kolderie, Ted suggests, “that the basic issue is not how to
improve the educational system; it is how to develop a system that seeks
improvement.” (Liberman, M, 1998). Equal
opportunity should be given to teachers and parents, to share decision-making
power in terms of policies, to decide the policies that can be good for them
and the students. If every citizen of the United States has the same
constitutional rights, that there shouldn’t be a racial issue in the justice
system. The justice system needs to stop seeing all black individuals as
“criminals”, and the education system needs to offer equal educational
opportunities to all public schools. To truly practice social justice, it is
important every students and teachers should be respected and treated equally.
Every student is different, they should be valued than treating them as
commodities.  As stated by Stitzlein
& Smith (2016), “To maintain a true commitment to social justice, we must
ensure that our founding philosophies and practices resist alienation, objectification
and commodification.” (Stitzlein & Smith, 2016). Tremendous amount of
additional research work and awareness is need in the education system to
create significant and meaningful reforms. Why do we still have to continue to fight
for social justice, political and cultural equality? Will there be a change, why
are people becoming more selfish and don’t think about the welfare of today’s children,
will the world be a better place tomorrow for today’s children? Schools should
always aim for continuous improvement, so they can provide the best quality and
equal education to all kinds of students and an overall better educational
outcome can be achieved that can change the values of the education system.
















Alexander, M (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass
Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010),
ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7.

Au, W. (2011). Teaching under the new
Taylorism: high-stakes testing and the standardization of the 21st century
curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(1), 25-45.

Brown v. Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (19)

Brown, A.L. & Delissovoy, N. (2011).
Economies of racism: grounding education policy research in the complex
dialectic of race, class, and capital. Journal of Educational Policy, 26 (5),

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without
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Chubb, J. & Moe, T. (1988). Politics,
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Robinson, Cedric J. 2000 [1983]. Black
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