EDL power in the global market, such




EDL 696A-001

Race, Neoliberalism, and Education

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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.” 
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 get
to decide their school choice, but it is the schools that chooses the students.
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 that traditional public
schools” (pp.51).  Neoliberalism has
really destructed and negatively impacted the education system.  

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).

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, then 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. 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
racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the
United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Chubb, J. & Moe, T. (1988). Politics,
markets, and the organization of schools. American Political Science Review 82
(4), 1065-1087.

Gary J. Miller and Andrew B. Whitford.
(2016). Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment. New
York, NY. Cambridge University Press. 271pp

R. (2012). The color of neoliberalism: The “modern Southern businessman” and
postwar Alabama’s challenge to racial desegregation. Sociological Forum 27 (1),

Kolderie, T. (2015). Education evolving. The
Split Screen Strategy: How to Turn Education Into a Self-Improving System

Ladson-Billings. (2006). From the Achievement
Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools.
Educational Researcher, October 2006.  DOI

Lieberman, M. (1989). Privatization and
educational choice. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Lipman, P. (2011). The new political economy
of urban education: Neoliberalism, race, and the right to the city. New York,
NY: Routledge.

Robinson, Cedric J. 2000 1983. Black
Marxism: the making of the black radical tradition. Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press.

Stitzlein, S.M. & Smith, B.A. (2016).
Turning over teachers: Charter school employment practices, teacher pipelines,
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solution: Distinguishing fact from rhetoric (pp. 40-60). New York: Routledge.


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