A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing or a Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing: Resistance to Educational Reform in Chile

  • Jill Pinkney Pastrana
Part of the Marxism and Education book series (MAED)


This chapter is part of a body of work grounded in ongoing ethnographic research begun in 1998 that examines the local effects of education reform that has been occurring in Chile since re-democratization. Chile is a country with a long history of national commitment to a well-developed public education system with levels of school coverage and national literacy significantly higher than those in most countries in Latin America. In the early 1980s while in the midst of a brutal military dictatorship, Chile became the first country in the world to re-form its educational system along firmly neoliberal lines. Since re-democratization, a series of educational reforms have been undertaken that, while progressive on some levels, have not significantly changed the underlying neoliberal structure put into place in the 1980s. These reforms, many of which have been housed within La Reforma Educational Chilena (REC), have met with some success, though many problems remain. The REC and other reforms brought a new impetus to address the many problems in Chilean schooling, especially in the public sector, and created many opportunities for schools throughout the country to innovate and improve. However, the reform did not address in any way the underlying neo- liberal structure that was imposed upon the educational system of Chile during the dictatorship, and, in fact, some elements of the REC were actually designed to improve neoliberal aspects of the educational system.


Education Policy Education Reform Charter School Urban Rural Comparative Education Review 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aedo-Richmond, R., and Richmond, M. (1996). Recent curriculum change in post-Pinochet Chile. Compare: A Journal of Comparative Education, 26(2), 249–247.Google Scholar
  2. Arenas, A. (2004). Privatization and vouchers in Columbia and Chile. International Review of Education, 50(3-4), July 2004, 379–395.Google Scholar
  3. Austin, R. (2003). The State, Literacy, and Popular Education in Chile, 1964–1990. Maryland: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  4. Bonnefoy, P. (2006). Chile looks (slightly) left. The Nation.
  5. Boron, A., & Torres, C. A. (1996). The impact of neoliberal restructuring on education and poverty in Latin America. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 42(2), 102–114.Google Scholar
  6. Brunner, J.J. (2005). Comparative research and public policy: from authoritarian to democracy. Peabody Journal of Education, 80(1), 100–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carnoy, M. (1995). Is school privatization the answer? Education Week, 14(40), 52–60.Google Scholar
  8. Brunner, J.J. (1998). National voucher plans in Chile and Sweden: did privatization reforms make for better education? Comparative Education Review, 42(3), August 1998, 309–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Colegio de Profesores de Chile. (1999). Propuesta Educacional de Magisterio. A la ciudadania y a los candidates a la Presdencia de la Republica. Santiago, Chile.Google Scholar
  10. Compendio de Informaciön Estadistica. (1997). Ministerio de Educacion, Division de planificacion y presupuesto. Compendio de Informaciön Estadistica, Santiago, Chile.Google Scholar
  11. Congreso Nacional de Dirigentes Secundarios. (2007). Conclusiones Generales. Mejillones, Region de Anto Fagasta, 2007.Google Scholar
  12. Congreso Secondario Nacional. (2007). Propuesta final afio 2007: Sintisis general. Available online in the Portal Pingüino:
  13. Cox, C. (1998). “Reforma curricular y el rol de Educaciön en el nuevo milenio”. Professional Development Workshop. April 4, 1998. Chile, Temuco: Universidad de la Frontera.Google Scholar
  14. De Laire, Fernando. (2002). El discurso del 21 de mayo y los debates émergentes. Rev ista Mensa je, July 2002, 20–23.Google Scholar
  15. Economist. (2006). “How to make them better”, 381(8498), 3–5.Google Scholar
  16. Gardner, W. (2005). Choice cheats children. American School Board Journal. July, 2005.
  17. Gonzales R. P. (2006). Dirigentes secundarios: el perfil de los lideres. Universia Cron ica. ada/actualidad/noticia_actualidad. jsp?noticia=10798.
  18. Guari, V. (1998). School Choice in Chile: Two Decades of Educational Reform. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  19. Magendzo, A. (2005). Pedagogy of human rights education: a Latin American perspective. Intercultural Education, 16(2), 137–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Martin, T. (2003). Divergent ontologies with converging conclusions: a case study comparison of comparative methodologies. Comparative Education, 39(1), February 2003, 105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McEwan, P. (2001). The effectiveness of public, Catholic, and non-religious private schools in Chile’s voucher system. Education Economics, 9(2), August 2001, 103–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ministerio de Educaciön, Chile (MINEDUC). (2007). Fresidenta de la Repuhlica Firma Froyecto que Reemplaza la LOCE, April 9, 2007. Available online: 18dd_ seccion= 10 &id_contenido= 482 5.
  23. Narodowski, M., and Nores, M. (2002). Socio-economic segregation with (without) competitive education policies: a comparative analysis of Argentina and Chile. Comparative Education, 38(4), November 1, 2002, 429–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nunez, I. (1999). Personal Interview, Ministry of Education. Santiago, Chile.Google Scholar
  25. ODEPLAN. (1985). Encuesta de caracterizacion socioeconomica de la poblacion. Santiago: CASEN, Informe Social 1984–1985, 21.Google Scholar
  26. Parry, T.R. (1997). Decentralization and privatization: education policy in Chile. Journal of Fublic Policy, 17(1): 107–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Petras, J., and Levia, F.I. (1994). Democracy and Poverty in Chile: The Limits to Electoral Politics. Boulder, Co.: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  28. Petras, J., and Veltmeyer, H. (2005). Empire with Imperialism: The Globalizing Dynamics of Neoliberal Capitalism. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  29. Pinkney Pastrana, J. (2000). Subtle Tortures of the Neo-Liberal Age: The Case of Chile. Unpublished dissertation.Google Scholar
  30. Pinkney Pastrana, J. (2007). Subtle tortures of the neo-liberal age: teachers, students, and the political economy of schooling in Chile. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 5(2), November 2007, http://www.jceps.coni/ ?pageID=article&articleID=102.
  31. Puiggros, A. (1996). World Bank education policy: Market liberalism meets ideological conservatism. NACLA Report on the AmericasXXDX, (6): 26–31.Google Scholar
  32. Rothstein, R. (2004). Class and School: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. New York City: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  33. Samoff, J. (1996). Chaos and certainty in development, World Development, 24(4), 611–633. [re: “financial-intellectual complex ”]CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schiefelbein, E. (2004). The politics of decentralization in Latin America. International Review of Education, 50, 363–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spilerman, S., and Torche, F. (2004). Living standard potential and the transmission of advantage in Chile. In E. Wolff (ed.). What Has Happened to the Quality of Life in the Advanced Industrial Nations (chapter 8, pp. 214–253). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  36. Teitelboim, V. (1988). Fascistas, filosofos y lectores. Araucaria de Chile (41): 49–57.Google Scholar
  37. UNESCO. (1995). Everybody’s Business, 66. images/0 015/0 01502/150262e.pdf.
  38. Valverde, G. (2004). Curriculum convergence in Chile: The global and local context of reforms in curriculum policy. Comparative Education Review, 48(2), 174–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wells, A.S. et al. (1996a). “Globalization and educational change”. In A. Hargreaves et al. (eds.). International Handbook of Educational Change (Vol. 3, pp. 3–17).Google Scholar
  40. Wells, A.S. et al. (1996b). “Underlying policy assumptions of charter school reform: the multiple meanings of a movement”. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sheila Macrine, Peter McLaren, and Dave Hill 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill Pinkney Pastrana

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations