College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education


College of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies and Research

First Advisor

Kenneth Saltman, PhD


In this analysis, I examine the relationship between neoliberalism and public education in order to provide context for the education policies laid out by the obama administration, specifically focusing on Race to the Top and Promise Neighborhoods. I will discuss how market discourse and shifts in the political climate have made way for a neoliberal education agenda based on privatization, strict and punitive assessments and accountability practices, and standardized high-stakes testing. A portion of this paper will analyze education policy documents and related literature to identify policy trends and give historical context to current national education policy reform agenda. This paper will also provide a critically reflective analysis of two current education policies - RttT and PNs - drawing on official documents and other literature to link these programs to a multifaceted, multi-pronged, coordinated effort to dismantle public education in America. It is my contention that both the Race to the Top and the Promise Neighborhoods programs represent policies aligned with what Henry Giroux has called the "politics of disposability." It is a politics where the market reigns at the eipense of public discourse and democracy reflecting the rise of neoliberal policy in education and all facets of our lives (Giroux, 2008).

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