EDL 696A-001

Race, 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 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, 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) 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 “(B)y 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 we can
say that it is not the students who get 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 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.  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 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). 

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 has suggested, “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 African American, Latino to share decision-making
power in terms of policies, regarding what policy is good for them and for the
economy. 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. 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.  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.



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), 595-619.

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),

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

 Hole, 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:

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, and social justice. In
T.L. Affolter and J.K. Donnor (Eds.) The charter school solution:
Distinguishing fact from rhetoric (pp. 40-60). New York: Routledge.


I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out