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ERIC Number: EJ859302
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 49
ISSN: ISSN-1740-2743
No Child Left Behind: A Neoliberal Repackaging of Social Darwinism
Leyva, Rodolfo
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, v7 n1 p364-381 Jun 2009
It is widely believed that the end of Nazism, and the postwar era brought an end to academic theories and discourses regarding inherent racial inferiority. There was little tolerance Hawkins (1997) argues, for biological justifications for racism, war, and exploitation. The infamous Social Darwinism of key intellectual Herbert Spencer, and its explicit eugenics, racist, and free-market ideology of "Survival of the Fittest," was rendered unfashionable as Western democracies were quick to disassociate themselves with explicitly Nazi-related ideologies (Degler 1992). Social Darwinism has resurfaced in neoliberal economics and free-market policies where the similarities between Spencer and Friedman Hayek's (1994) brand of unrestricted markets are almost identical. This paper shall discuss the historical continuities between Spencer's Social Darwinism, and the essentialist ideals of meritocracy, selfishness, and competition that are advanced by neoliberalism, and that underpin the Bush Administration's neoliberal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). According to neoliberal rhetoric, the education system is largely seen as the ultimate arbiter of innate intelligence and ability, as well as the benefactor of hard-work and merit, and so its analysis in relation to contemporary education policies and their overarching philosophy is fitting and should provide for critical retrospective and prospective reflections. Furthermore, the author contends that neoliberal policies like NCLB have taken what he will refer to as a Neo-Spencerian outlook on education that has abandoned racial inferiority theories, but continues to celebrate unfettered markets, which have only led to further racialised underperformance. This paper will focus on the results of the Act since its implementations in the year 2002 (which include the racialised underperformance and the continuing commercialization of education), as they make for more relevant points of discussion and analyses. (Contains 5 footnotes.)
Institute for Education Policy Studies. University of Northampton, School of Education, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL, UK. Tel: +44-1273-270943; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001