Is the rise of private schooling due to ‘neoliberalism’?

Three pages into School Choice: How Parents Negotiate the New School Market in Australia, its authors tells us that in developing their argument ‘we are responsive to two books by Michael Pusey’. This is not a good start. As usual in discussing ‘neoliberalism’, the views of those who might plausibly be described as ‘neoliberals’ are not discussed in any detail, with passing mentions of arguments from the CIS and the Menzies Research Centre, accompanied by a grudging concession that the Howard government never followed the logic of these organisations’ arguments to ‘the end’.

Pusey has long argued that ‘economic rationalism’/ neoliberalism was an essentially alien ideology imposed on unwilling citizens. And the authors of School Choice – Craig Campbell, Helen Proctor, and Geoffrey Sherington – pursue that logic to some extent in noting parents who felt that they had had to make a school choice, when really they would have preferred just to send their kids to a ‘quality’ local school.

But a much stronger case can be made that school choice has deep roots in Australian history and politics, and that while there is a distinctive ‘neoliberal’ set of arguments these are not what has given this issue political momentum.
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