Cover image for School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy: How Market-Based Education Reform Fails Our Communities By Robert Asen

School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy

How Market-Based Education Reform Fails Our Communities

Robert Asen

COMING IN OCTOBER

$34.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09139-6
Coming in October

248 pages
6" × 9"
2021

Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation

School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy

How Market-Based Education Reform Fails Our Communities

Robert Asen

“The affirmative and affirming vision of School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy is one that rejects the ‘neutrality’ of ‘the market’ and the habit of ignoring problems such as economic coercion in favor of a world of interconnection. Asen’s elegant analysis of the (a)morality of neoliberalism is sure to be heavily cited for years to come.”

 

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Evidence shows that the increasing privatization of K–12 education siphons resources away from public schools, resulting in poorer learning conditions, underpaid teachers, and greater inequality. But, as Robert Asen reveals here, the damage that market-based education reform inflicts on society runs much deeper. At their core, these efforts are antidemocratic.

Arguing that democratic communities and public education need one another, Asen examines the theory driving privatization, the neoliberalism of Milton and Rose Friedman, as well as the case for school choice promoted by former secretary of education Betsy DeVos and the controversial voucher program of former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. What Asen finds is that a market-based approach holds not just a different view of distributing education but a different vision of society. When the values of the market—choice, competition, and self-interest—shape national education, that policy produces individuals, Asen contends, with no connections to community and no obligations to one another. The result is a society at odds with democracy.

Probing and thought-provoking, School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy features interviews with local, on-the-ground advocates for public education and offers a countering vision of democratic education—one oriented toward civic relationships, community, and equality. This book is essential reading for policymakers, advocates of public education, citizens, and researchers.

“The affirmative and affirming vision of School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy is one that rejects the ‘neutrality’ of ‘the market’ and the habit of ignoring problems such as economic coercion in favor of a world of interconnection. Asen’s elegant analysis of the (a)morality of neoliberalism is sure to be heavily cited for years to come.”
School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy deals deftly with the pressing question of how well democratic practices and public advocacy hold up against the structures of neoliberalism and its valorization of market logics. This book uses both theoretical and empirical evidence to highlight the limitations of market logics for collective projects and suggests that we recommit ourselves to the difficult work of local political practice.”

Robert Asen is Stephen E. Lucas Professor of Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of numerous books, including Democracy, Deliberation, and Education, also published by Penn State University Press.