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The Presence of Neoliberal Ideology in State Charter School Policies

Daugherty, Rebecca (2024) The Presence of Neoliberal Ideology in State Charter School Policies. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The United States’ public education system is no stranger to robust efforts of educational reform. The past 50 years have seen various forms of local and institutional attempts to reform the public education system, but perhaps no reform has been as extensive and successful as the charter school movement. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run schools of choice that prioritize privatization and autonomy above all else. On the surface, they seem harmless to the public education system—simply a reform that puts the power of choice back into parents’ and students’ hands. But charter schools as an institutional reform represent a new kind of threat to our public education system: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism as an ideology postulates free-market ideals, such as competition, individualism, and deregulation, as necessary means for social well-being in all aspects of life, not just the economic sphere. This study uses content analysis with literature-based a priori codes to examine the presence of neoliberal ideals in state charter school policies. All state charter school policies were found to have some level of neoliberal ideology, the most frequent being privatization and regulatory accountability (to their own set of regulations). The results of this study are consistent with previous literature and demonstrate a compelling account of the connection between neoliberalism and charter schools.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Daugherty, Rebeccarad144@pitt.edurad144
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorPorter,
Committee MemberWeddle,
Committee MemberRainey,
Date: 5 January 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 December 2023
Approval Date: 5 January 2024
Submission Date: 12 December 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 97
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: education policy, neoliberalism, charter schools, privatization, deregulation
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2024 20:41
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 20:41


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