Restricting Social Justice Practices in Public Education: The Neoliberal Stronghold

  • Karen RamlackhanEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter focuses on how neoliberal ideology has shaped contemporary educational reform in the United States. This approach to education shapes the development and enaction of education policies such that substantial institutional and cultural change is made for purposes of economic gain as against more strictly public ones, tied less to temporal profit considerations. These reforms, influenced by business and market-based approaches, undermine social justice efforts because of their intense focus on efficiency and narrowly framed measurable outcomes and punitive accountability practices. Neoliberal educational policies shape classroom practices that reinforce the values and traditions of the dominant culture as well as exacerbate structural and systemic inequities that profoundly influence the educational experiences, outcomes, and trajectories of marginalized groups. The opposition of the neoliberal ideology against the fundamental objective of social justice preserves the systemic and structural inequities that impact marginalized students (e.g., based on race, socioeconomic status, language, ability, religion, gender, and so forth). Thus, it continues the stratification of educational experience and achievement outcomes of the privileged. Needed are systemic and systematic social justice focused-efforts to address the complexities of teaching and learning in public education. Practices that value marginalized populations such as those described in the culturally responsive pedagogy research literature warrant their meaningful and sustainable utility in education reform. Otherwise, advantage for the privileged will persist and grow as disparities continue to widen and detrimentally shape the postsecondary outcomes for marginalized students.


Educational reform Efficiency Social responsibility Accountability Neoliberalism Neoliberal Standardized Social justice Equity Audit culture High-stakes testing High poverty Inequities Critical thinkers Culturally responsive Pedagogy Activism Politics Latinx Black Achievement gap Multicultural Democratic Stratification Inclusion Meritocracy Urban Quantifiable Gender Socioeconomic status Oppressive Policy Racial inequality Curricula Measurable Institutions Teachers Districts Deprofessionalization Intersectionality Choice Charter System-wide Private Market-based Public schools Disability Race/ethnicity Globalized 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South Florida-St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • John M. Heffron
    • 1
  1. 1.The Graduate SchoolSoka University of AmericaAliso ViejoUSA

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