Neoliberal Reforms Ready to Devastate Higher Education

A construction project to repair and update th...
A construction project to repair and update the building façade at the Department of Education headquarters in 2002 resulted in the installation of structures at all of the entrances to protect employees and visitors from falling debris. ED redesigned these protective structures to promote the “No Child Left Behind Act”. The structures were temporary and were removed in 2008. Source: U.S. Department of Education, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





This is the same kind of “reform” that is devastating high school education in the United States, a reliance on testing, a emphasis on monetary results from education (“practical” education) and diminished state funding. This is education being re-defined from public good to private acquisition.


Are we who teach in academia on the verge of living in the same world as the public school teacher, that is, teaching to the test, rigidly defined course materials and funding based on test results?


That is certainly the intent of organizations like the Bill Gates Foundation and the Neoliberal movement.


Haven’t we learned enough from the NCLB disaster in the public schools to not have to do this kind of disastrous social experimentation? You’d think so but these zombie ideas just keep on staggering along, rotting and contaminating intelligent thought as they throw off empty ideas and fancy slogans like the miasma from a swamp.


James Pilant


6 ways neoliberal education reform is destroying our college system –


“An outcomes-based culture is rapidly developing amongst policymakers in the higher education sector,” declares a 2012 report sponsored by the Gates Foundation and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, “Measuring Value-Added in Higher Education.” With hardly contained delight, they add that this development “mirrors recent trends in the K-12 sector.”Like RTTT’s progenitor No Child Left Behind, much of the genetic material of higher education reform is drawn from Texas. Just as the apocryphal “Texas Miracle” became the backbone of NCLB’s testing and accountability model, college reforms propagated in Texas have captured the attention of reformers nationwide, with the Gates Foundation playing its usual capo-de-tutti-capi role.The foundation also funded Compare College TX, an accountability system, and supported—in fact helped inspire—Governor Rick Perry’s $10,000 degree plan. This initiative epitomizes the Republican higher-ed platform, defined by performance funding, value-added measurements and the likely curtailing of state funds.The foundation’s other forays into higher education—an accountability challenge, numerous nationalcollege completion initiatives, and a series of research paperswith consulting firm HCM Strategists made Gates “one of the strongest voices …


via 6 ways neoliberal education reform is destroying our college system –


From around the web.


From the web site, Sarah Kendzior.


You could say I am angry, but I don’t see that as a negative quality. Anger is a normal reaction to suffering, whether you experience it or witness it. One can be angry without being hostile or violent. One can be angry and still be respectful and polite to others.


Anger is a positive emotion, because anger acknowledges the possibility for change. The opposite of anger is acquiescence – the acceptance of suffering as normal. Anger is a form of compassion.


Corruption and inequality are man-made problems. They are not inevitable and neither is the hardship that accompanies them. But in order to fix a problem, we have to see it as a problem, not an inexorable element of human life or human behavior. Saying “this is the way things are” discourages people from imagining how things could be.


If people are angry after they read my work, I am glad. I hope they use that anger to fight on behalf of others. One of the worst feelings in the world is to suffer in the open and have no one care or raise a hand to help you. We should not take terrible conditions for granted any more than we should treat the suffering they cause as acceptable. Anger demands accountability.


As for your question as to whether I am “mentally and emotionally exhausted“ — probably. But that’s because I am the mother of two young children, not because I’m some sort of revolutionary.


Criticizing corruption is not exhausting.  It is far more exhausting to pretend everything is okay.


From the web site, New Politics.




FROM A PERSPECTIVE of teaching for social justice, a

critique of NCLB points to fundamental pitfalls and contradictions of the model which, in the end,

not only may lead to its own demise, but will deeply damage the fabric of public education as the

cornerstone of the democratic pact in the United States, and by implication, will damage peoples

and entire communities, especially people of color.




Carlos Ovando

offers eleven reasons why NCLB could be consider a fraud. 1. The massive increase in testing that

NCLB will impose on schools will hurt their educational performance, not improve it; 2. The

funding for NCLB does not come anywhere near the levels that would be needed to reach even

the narrow and dubious goals of producing 100 percent passing rates on state tests for all students

by 2014; 3. The mandate that NCLB imposes on schools to eliminate inequality in test scores

among all students within 12 years is a mandate that is placed on no other social institution, and

reflects the hypocrisy of the law; 4. The sanctions that NCLB impose on schools that don’t meet

its test score targets will hurt poor schools and poor communities most; 5. The transfer and

choice provision will crest chaos and produce greater inequality within the public system without

increasing the capacity of receiving schools to deliver better educational services; 6. These same

transfer and choice provisions will not give low-income parents any more control over school

bureaucracies than food stamps give them over the supermarkets; 7. These provisions about using

scientifically based instructional practices are neither scientifically valid nor educationally sound

and will harmfully impact classrooms in what may be the single most important instructional area,

the teaching of reading; 8. The supplemental tutorial provisions of NCLB will channel public

funds to private companies for ideological and political reasons, similar to debates about

vouchers, not sound educational ones; 9. NCLB is part of a larger political and ideological effort

to privatize social programs, reduce the public sector, and ultimately replace local control of

institutions like schools with marketplace reforms that substitute commercial relations between

customers for democratic relations between citizens; 10. NCLB moves control over curriculum

and instructional issues away from teachers, classrooms, schools and local districts where it

should be, and puts it in the hands of state and federal educational bureaucracies and politicians. It

represents the single biggest assault on local control of schools in the history of federal education

policy; 11. NCLB includes provisions that try to push prayer, military recruiters, and homophobia

into schools while pushing multiculturalism, teacher innovation, and creative curriculum reform




critique is shared by many scholars, and they are also many other voices of dissent in many school

districts and state departments of education struggling to comply with the letter and the spirit of

the law. Yet, I will argue that even the spirit of the law, based on the notion of accountability

should be carefully inspected and criticized.


Technocrats and

bureaucrats take for granted that accountability is one of those terms that cannot be challenged

because accountability refers to the process of holding actors responsible for their actions.

Nonetheless, “Operationalizing such an open-ended concept is fraught with complications,

starting with the politically and technically contested issue of assessing performance. Even if the

measurement problem were solved, the factors explaining the process have received remarkable

little research attention. For example, although political science has sought broad generalizations

to explain wars, treaties, military coups, legislation, electoral behavior, and transitions to

democracy, it has not produced empirically grounded conceptual frameworks that can explain

how public accountability is constructed across diverse institutions.” (Fox and Brown, 12)


If a discipline

such as political science has not been able to truly define what accountability is, how can one

expect to sort out those dilemmas in education? Only in the feverish imagination of technocrats

who, paraphrasing Mark Twain’s irony, can be criticized that if the only tool that they have is a

hammer, all the problems begin to look like nails. I wonder sometimes what would Rousseau,

Pestalozzi, Dewey, or Freire, to name just a few great pedagogues, would say confronted with the

theories of the lesser-known pedagogues of the Congress, the White House, and their academic

advisers and consultants who inspired the principles of NCLB.






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