UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Educational value is not private! : defending the concept of public education Bonic, Stephanie Alexis


The privatization of K-12 education in Canada is not new. The public and private sectors feel like natural elements of the Canadian education system because they have existed side by side since confederation. However, this thesis challenges that tradition and argues that private education undermines collective responsibility for education as a shared, public good by catering to private interests and isolating students from the public realm. Not only does private education reinforce the likelihood of socio-economic stratification, but the concept of a “public good” is increasingly destabilized as social services like education are privatized. Why, then, does the privatization of K-12 education continue to be an insignificant political issue in Canada? This question is particularly pertinent at a time when neoliberalism is in full swing in the United States, and all the time more apparent in Canada. Neoliberalism’s emphasis on the precedence of economic ideals over concerns for social welfare and democratic participation has transformed the way that we understand “value”. Drawing on a broad range of scholars including Charles Taylor, Richard Pildes, Janice Gross Stein, Henry Giroux, Francois-Lyotard and Michel Foucault, this thesis argues that the values involved in the very concept of private education reinforce, and are reinforced by, neoliberal views about the place of the individual within society, and that these values are detrimental to the concern for education as shared, public good.

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