School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy

By Robert Asen

School Choice and the Betrayal of Democracy book cover
Added February 1, 2022

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.

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