How did we get here? A systems thinking approach to meritocracy and neoliberalism in schooling
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SubjectHonors Theses; Meritocracy; Neoliberalism; Schooling; Privatization of education; Charter schools; School vouchers; Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Education
The ideological underpinnings of educational policy mirror the socio-politics of the time in which the policy was implemented. In current educational debates, neoliberal ideals of rolling back government involvement and increasing privatization in education have a strong connection to the voucher system that is receiving some support. The voucher system allows individuals to use public school tax dollars to be used for tuition in private schools, and seeks to increase competition amongst schools. Neoliberal ideas support the free market model in education that would create competition amongst schools themselves. It has been argued that free markets are successful for creating innovation in the private sphere because some business fail and are forced to close, while critics of the voucher system question if it is ethical to leave schools-and their students-behind. These issues are especially timely considering that Betsey DeVos, the current Secretary of Education, supports the voucher system. In a speech in 2015 DeVos said that education is “a closed system, a closed industry, a closed market. It’s a monopoly, a dead end,” supporting neoliberal ideas of increasing free markets within the public education system. This research will apply a systems thinking approach to understanding the ideological underpinnings of past and present models of public schooling in the United States. This approach will investigate the interactions between ideology, historical context, and educational policy. This research project is focused on understanding how these interactions developed over time to result in the neoliberal ideology of the present and the current educational policy debate around vouchers.
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