EDL a complex subject especially when we think




Race, Neoliberalism,
and Education

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Neoliberalism on Education and Race







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. After the WWII neoliberalism
came into being to revive the world economy (that was destroyed during the WWII),
by introducing free market, globalization and competition.  Neoliberalism is in fact a totality which
effects all aspects of people’s lives, including the government, policies,
economy, global relations, race, class and education. In addition to personal liberty,
it brought in some positive ideas 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 increase free flow of goods from one country to another, and
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. However,
the philosophy of neoliberalism does not encourage this idea 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 attainment.  Does neoliberalism play out and how, when we consider
education and race? The main 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 examined 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, schooling
was freely available for everyone. The right to education for all ethnicity,
race, class, and gender and culture. Chubb & Moe 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, pp. 1064).  “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 and the
schools.  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 means differential
and unequal funding disparities. The present-day 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 her new book The New Political Economy of Urban Education, states “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 the teachers. With the rise in standardization of the curriculum,
the schools have no choice to review and revive 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 children are powerless as they are trapped in the fixed 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 affected the schooling
system.  In the higher education 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 with the spread of private
higher education and the way the state managed institutions have transformed
themselves. The private universities are more overtly selling the so-called
skills whereas the state run institutions have privatized the non-teaching

spheres and started cost cutting through contractualisation/ casualization
of the teaching labor force. The Universities have become a marketplace in a
neoliberal world.

As stated by Bonilla-Silva, (2001) 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 is emerged in human history, it became embedded in
societies.” (Robinson, 2000).   In addition,
Brown & Delissovoy (2011) quotes
Bonilla-Silva’s statement 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). 


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.  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 political and money-making ideologies than focusing on fixing the
broken education system or catering to the poor children, especially African Americana
and Latino/a who are not well served in the society 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 that every student and teacher 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 needed 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.




















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under the new Taylorism: high-stakes testing and the standardization of the
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Brown v. Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (19)

Brown, A.L. & Delissovoy, N. (2011). Economies of
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