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Smacked by the invisible hand: the wrong debate at the wrong time with the wrong people

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Abstract:

Over the past three decades, educators have faced an increasing variety of reform proposals that can best be contextualized as efforts to commodify and privatize public education. While supporters of market-based reforms attempt to place these proposals within education theory, they are in reality firmly entrenched in neoliberal economic theory. This paper traces the evolution of neoliberal economic thought from its birth in the 1940s to its rise to prevalence in the 1970s. It looks at the continuing impact of neoliberal theory on public and political thought as well as education reform proposals. If supporters of public education are to respond adequately to these reform proposals, they will need to reframe their approach on economic, rather than educational, grounds.

Keywords: education reform; neoliberalism; privatization

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2012.754948

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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