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Institue for Education Policy Studies


International Half-Day Seminar: NeoLiberalism and Education

International Half-Day Seminar:
NeoLiberalism and Education

Sussex University
12.30 -5pm
Tuesday 14 Sept 2004
EDB (Education Development Building) 340

A conference run by the Institute for Education Policy Studies and the Journal for critical Education Policy Studies
Entry is free

Marxism and Education: Neo-Liberal Educational Reform, Ideology, the attack on social justice and equality, and the Capitalization of Humanity

Seminar Organiser: Dave Hill

Focus, Objective, and Educational Importance of Seminar

This international day seminar analyses education `reform’ developments in the current epoch of neo-liberal global capital. Curricular reform and restructuring of schools and higher education has taken place internationally under pressure from international capitalist organizations and compliant governments. The papers in the seminar analyze the ways in which neo-liberal educational reform creates social relationships that `capitalize humanity’ and that perpetuate and deepen social and economic inequity/ injustice.

1. Education Accountability – Ideological Ground for War and Repression of Democracy Post-9/11
Pauline Lipman, DePaul University, Chicago, USA

Education accountability policies regulate the work of teachers, students, and schools, push out critical and culturally relevant educational practices, and substitute the discourse of the market for complex processes of teaching and learning. These policies are part of larger neoliberal social policies designed to commodify and privatize public institutions while bringing their content more tightly under state surveillance in order to make them better serve global capitalist economic restructuring.

In this paper, I argue that education accountability policies also provide ideological support for political repression and militarism in the post-9/11 U.S. I focus on the relationship of accountability policies to the suppression of civil liberties, racial targeting, and justifications for military aggression. Drawing on qualitative data from a study of Chicago public schools, I examine the ideological force and practical consequences of high stakes tests, school probation, scripted curricula, performance standards, and military in schools for growing repression of civil liberties, war, and militarization of society.

Looking at how accountability discourses and practices are actually experienced in schools as a system of coercion, I argue that policies that normalize surveillance, centralized regulation, punishment, and rigid binaries of success/failure and good/bad students, teachers, and schools contribute to a shift in U.S. political culture that legitimates the suppression of critical thought and action, obedience to authority, punishment of dissent, racial profiling and regulation of people of color, and restriction of democratic participation.

The paper situates the U.S. government’s response to 9/11 and its policy of pre-emptive war in the broader struggle for U.S. global domination, the crisis of legitimacy of capitalist globalization, and global challenges to neoliberalism. This context clarifies what is at stake, politically and educationally, in the present situation and suggests both the dangers and the possibilities of schools as sites for counter-hegemonic thought and action.

The paper concludes with a framework for collective, democratic participation in education policy that avoids both the reproduction of social inequality and disempowerment created by past bureaucratic state policies and the atomization, privatization, and centralized regulation of neoliberal accountability.

2. Neoliberal and market ideologies in US education: Transforming educational governance and undermining democracy.
David Hursh, University of Rochester, NY, USA

This paper examines recent US education reforms within the context of the changing ideologies governing policies. In particular, it looks at the rise of neoliberal and market ideologies that form the basis for reforms in states, such as New York, which has instituted standardized testing requirements for high school graduation, and in the federal government, which through No Child Left Behind is promoting markets as a solution.

As in the U.K. and elsewhere, such reforms replace a welfare state with as individual competitive state. Further, neoliberalism transforms the nature of democracy so that decisions are not made at the local level by those with particular interests in the outcome but by government officials at the state and federal levels, who steer education from a distance.

3. Global liberalization of schooling and schooling services: the impacts on equity, access and the pay and conditions of education workers worldwide.
Dave Hill, University College Northampton, UK and senior visiting research fellow at Sussex University UK

This paper is an interim report on research I have been conducting for the ILO (International Labour Organisation) investigating the implications for workers' socio-economic security due to the liberalization of education (the schooling and further education sectors). This paper focuses in particular on these issues in Latin America, in particular Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, with some reference to other states such as Thailand and Pakistan. In addition there will be reference to the impacts of liberalization in industrialized states such as, the UK, USA, Western Europe and OECD states.

The paper examines the `levers’ for and mechanisms through which global liberalization is taking place, such as international capitalist organizations like the WTO, GATS and Tree Trade Associations (FTAs), through Multinational companies MNCs and their organizations, and through voluntarily compliant governments and governments forced to open services such as education up to `liberalisation’, international competition and restructuring of formerly free public education systems.

The paper examines the impact of (neo-)liberalization of services on:

  1. workers' socio-economic securities in schooling, further education and associated services- such as salaries, conditions of employment, trade union rights, employment structures, identities and pressures;
  2. impact of liberalization on provision of schooling and further education delivery in terms of and coverage and accessibility effects on access to primary schooling, secondary schooling and further and higher education;
  3. the deepening of `raced’ and gendered social class educational and subsequent economic and social inequalities within `liberalising’ states in both the developed world and the developing world
  4. the (re)- imposition / exacerbation of colonial and subservient status on the education (and labour markets) of developing states.
  5. the controlling and suppression of critical thought and activity within educational sites and the intensification of the ideological and repressive state apparatuses
  6. the weakening of democracy;
  7. the capitalization of humanity.

The paper ends by calling for resistance to the global (neo-)liberal capitalist agenda in schooling and education.

4. US Imperialism, Transmodernism and Education: a Marxist Critique
Mike Cole, University of Brighton, UK

In this paper I begin by discussing David Geoffrey Smith’s analysis of the enantiomorphism inherent in the rhetoric of new American Imperialism. I then go on to critically examine his defence of Enrique Dussel’s advocacy of transmodernism, as a way of understanding this enantiomorphism, and of moving beyond what are seen as the constraints of both modernism and postmodernism. I argue that transmodernism has purchase in analysing the genesis and genealogy of the New Imperialism.

I then offer a critique, from a Marxist perspective, of both postmodernism and transmodernism. I suggest that, in moving beyond the mere deconstruction of postmodernism, transmodernism is theoretically and practically more progressive than both non-Marxist forms of modernism and postmodernism. However, I suggest that, in rejecting all forms of totalising synthesis, transmodern analysis, like postmodern analysis, is ultimately conducive to capitalism. I also suggest that, since transmodernism’s agenda for change is solely analectical rather than dialectical, that transmodernist proposals for change are not viable in the context of the current imperialist project.

Turning to education in societies characterised by enantiomorphism and enfraudening, I argue that, from a Marxist perspective, the role of education should be to transform schools from sites of misrepresentation and conformity to the needs of neo-liberal capitalism and imperialism into sites of social justice

5. Educational technology, surplus value and the digital divide.
Tim Waller, University College Northampton, UK

This paper will present a Marxist analysis of the current function and role of information and communication technology (ICT) in education, with specific reference to the UK. Over the past four years the UK government has spent in excess of £2bn on ICT equipment for schools and in ‘training’ teachers to use the technology. Children and teachers are now clearly expected to function and measured and regulated through a series of online reports, league tables and data available to those with access to the internet.

The paper will consider the implications of this significant increase in spending on technology and the promotion of ICT in schools, the links with global capital and the benefits for capitalism of the trend towards digital and electronic communication. It will be argued that a Marxist position offers a critical understanding of the ways in which ICT is used to reinforce state apparatus and redefine social and cultural practices within education.

The paper will also contend that the apparent systematic exclusion of visible minorities and much of working class from ICT orientated research is central to the maintenance of status quo and power and 'conservative whiteness' in technology education. The paper will therefore examine the structural position of educational technology in a post-industrial information based economy and as a crucial apparatus for the maintenance of information- based global capital.

Following McLaren and Farahmandpur (2002: 41), it will be argued that computer technology has led to an ‘automation of labor making it more productive and efficient, whilst at the same time cheapening it’. Finally, the paper will consider the possibilities of technology as a site for resistance to global capital and the promotion of social justice within education.

Attendance is free

EDB Education Development Building is near the Library
Falmer rail station is close to Sussex University
Gatwick Airport is 45 mins from Falmer Station

For information/ enquiries/ to register please email Dave Hill at and at