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ERIC Number: EJ818921
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 38
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 176
ISSN: ISSN-1476-7724
A Quarter Century of Neoliberal Thinking in Education: Misleading Analyses and Failed Policies
Klees, Steven J.
Globalisation, Societies and Education, v6 n4 p311-348 2008
With some exceptions, a liberal version of neoclassical economics dominated public policy in the United States from the New Deal through the 1970s; and in many other countries as well. However, beginning in 1980, there was a visible sea change that brought conservatives and public choice economists to power. Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States. He combined forces with Margaret Thatcher, already Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, leading to sweeping changes in national and international rhetoric and policy. International institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) changed hands and direction. The result has been a "Great Experiment" that has systematically altered public policy on a global scale. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the sweeping change in economic policy, to what is now, around the globe, called "neoliberal economics", better known in the United States and among neoclassical economists as the Washington Consensus. Neoliberal economics is the inheritor of conservative and public choice economics policies. This article focuses on what this Great Experiment has meant for education. The author argues that, associated with neoliberalism, the past quarter of a century has seen a profound shift in thinking about education and that people have been embarked on a Great Experiment in the education arena. His view is that the result has been poorly supported and misleading analyses that have led to failed policies. The author focuses on three directions in neoliberal thinking about education: the increased use of some form of user fees; the privatization of more educational activities; and the direct connection of management and financing of education to measurable output. He also offers a review of some of the lessons learned from past education policy and practice relevant to these three directions. In many areas, he reviews US experience, since much of the impetus and justification for these policies comes from their supposed success in the United States. Where available, he reviews some of the experiences in developing countries with these directions. He uses World Bank policy as a central focal point, since it is the major player in global educational policy and has been at the forefront of the shift to neoliberal thinking. (Contains 26 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States