This collection brings together educationalists, anthropologists, and sociologists who use a rich array of empirical data to understand the complex realities of school choice across a range of political and social settings: in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, England, India, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Tanzania, and the United States.

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‘Which school should I choose for my child?’ For many parents, this question is one of the most important of their lives. ‘School choice’ is a slogan being voiced around the globe, conjuring images of a marketplace with an abundance of educational options. Those promoting educational choice also promise equality, social advantage, autonomy, and self-expression to families. But what does this globalisation of school choice actually look like on the ground? While the language of school choice has spread globally, it has done so unevenly across and within nations, and is always interpreted through local social and historical contexts. Neo-liberal policy initiatives are re-shaping education systems in many nations, but in complex and varied ways. This collection shows that rather than eliminating equity concerns, they re-embed them within new frameworks of choice and accountability.

 

OXFORD STUDIES IN COMPARATIVE EDUCATION

The Globalisation of School Choice?

Edited by MARTIN FORSEY, SCOTT DAVIES & GEOFFREY WALFORD

2008 paperback 252 pages US$56.00
ISBN 978-1-873927-12-0

 

The Globalisation of School Choice? An Introduction to Key Issues and Concerns
MARTIN FORSEY, SCOTT DAVIES & GEOFFREY WALFORD

 

As one would expect of any complex reform process, the results of recent neo-liberal reform to Australian schooling are at best unpredictable. While choice has always been part of Australian schooling, governments of all political hues have been enhancing their commitment to educational choice by increasing funding to the non-government sector. There is now no choice but to choose and parents, students, teachers, politicians and bureaucrats have been drawn further into reproducing a social system that exacerbates social inequality. However, they are not simply dominated by a new freedom of choice or by naïve consumerism. Keynesian-style welfarism remains influential enough in the political machinations accompanying the reformation of Australian schooling and, as some parents have found, the private sector does not necessarily generate greater levels of efficiency and accountability, nor are its standards automatically higher than those found in the public sector. Not only that, far from being the great source of openness, freedom and democracy that some would have us believe we will find in private enterprise, it is quite capable of squashing individual freedoms.

 

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