School Choice: How Parents Negotiate the New School Market in Australia

School Choice: How Parents Negotiate the New School Market in Australia

School Choice: How Parents Negotiate the New School Market in Australia

School Choice: How Parents Negotiate the New School Market in Australia

Excerpt

In recent decades 'school choice' has become a mantra of education policy in a number of English-speaking democracies. This is associated with the new era of neoliberalism in which citizens are expected to take more responsibility for their families' futures. In the process, the post-war settlement in favour of the state providing for universal secondary schooling is being transformed. Also supplanted is the earlier twentieth-century approach that sought to separate the educational fate of the child from the social or financial status of the parent.

In major Australian cities these changes were associated with a decline in the government sector's share of secondary school students. There were similar trends in regional areas where the presence of non-government schools also made 'choice' possible. New government policies included increases in the funding of non-government schools and the encouragement of a market in all schools. Aligned with this movement was a broad loss of faith in the effectiveness of many public institutions. Parents were expected to be active and wise in choosing a school.

All social classes in Australia are affected by these trends. This study is about middle-class families who have been actively caught up in this new regime of school choice. We believe that an examination of school choice provides an understanding of a significant moment in the history of the Australian middle class and its families. This book is about the relationship between the emerging markets in education and the making of the modern middle class. The study is specific to Australia but engages with the inter national debate on this question.

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