Monthly Archives: July 2012

CFP: Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse

Call for Papers

Special Theme Issue of Critical Education
Theme: Liberalism in Educational Policy, Practice, and Discourse

Guest Editors:
Angelina E. Castagno & Sabina Vaught

Despite current scholarly attention to the ways neoliberalism characterizes much of our contemporary socio-political context, liberalism still profoundly informs power dynamics within schools, community organizations, and other educational contexts. While neoliberalism focuses on markets, choice, and efficiency, classical liberalism centers notions of the individual, equality, democracy, and meritocracy. These are enduring notions with significant ideological attachments, as well as institutional and policy-based manifestations within school settings. Although the concept of liberalism has somewhat shifting boundaries in response to larger social, political, and economic changes, there remain these powerful central elements (see, for example, Cochran, 1999; Dawson, 2003; Locke, 1690; Mill, 1869; Olson, 2004; Starr, 2008). This special issue seeks to examine how these liberal tenets shape power dynamics around race, gender, class, and sexuality in school policy, practice, and law.

We suggest that liberalism’s power in schooling operates from its axis of individualism. At the heart of liberalism is the notion of the individual and individual rights. In liberal thought, individuals provide the foundation for laws and societal norms, and institutions exist primarily to further the goals, desires, and needs of individuals. An individual’s rights are of utmost importance under a liberal framework, so rights such as freedom of speech, thought, conscience, and lifestyle are viewed as fundamental and worth protecting at almost any cost. Equality of opportunity is another liberal mainstay. Value is placed on ensuring that individuals have equal access to various opportunities in society. However, liberalism is not concerned with ensuring equality of outcome since it is assumed that individuals can reasonably decide if and how to capitalize on opportunities presented to them. Moreover, liberalism generally opposes too much government regulation, but this can be a point of contention since government involvement is sometimes required to ensure the stability of other core liberal values. These tenets allow liberalism to both mask and reproduce power imbalances. As such, liberalism informs power mechanisms by which educational policies, practices, and discourses are shaped.

With liberalism as an analytic construct through which to view schooling, we seek papers for this special issue that might address the following broad questions:

  • How is liberalism taken up, engaged, and employed in various educational contexts to reproduce power along axes of race, gender, sexuality, and class?
  • To what extent does the liberal identity and agenda drive educational efforts and movements, and to what effect?
  • What are the implications of liberalism on schools? On youth? On policy? On curriculum? On pedagogy? On activism? On reform efforts?

Through these analyses, we hope to map the multiple ways liberalism impacts schooling in order to disrupt power inequities that remain pervasive and elusive when viewed strictly through a neoliberal framework. Drawing on critical theory, Critical Race Theory, Tribal Critical Theory, Red Pedagogies, gender and feminist studies, and other related theoretical traditions, this special issue will bring together articles that advance a critical conversation about liberalism, individualism, and power within U.S. schools.

To submit a manuscript for consideration in this special issue of Critical Education, and for author submission guidelines, please visit ( For any inquiries related to this special issue, please e-mail the guest editors at For full consideration, complete manuscripts of no more than 5,000 words, including references, should be submitted by January 15, 2013. We strongly encourage submissions from advanced doctoral students and junior scholars.

How Class Works 2012 – Conference Videos

Via Michael Zweig at SUNY Stony Brook:

Dear Friends and Colleagues

The How Class Works – 2012 conference, held at Stony Brook University June 6-9, was by all reports a success. There were over 180 presentations in 50 sessions, with 240 people attending. The conference welcomed presentations from across the United States and fifteen other countries – graduate students and senior scholars in many fields of study; labor and community activists; independent scholars, artists, and poets–all exploring one or another aspect of working class studies.

A number of papers presented at the conference are now available on the conference Website. Go to:

We will add more papers as we receive them and post audio recordings of many sessions this coming fall.

Meanwhile, I am happy to report that the University has posted to YouTube videos for four of the plenary sessions at the conference, listed below with the link for each (the number corresponds to the session number on the conference program). These are each important documents with significant content and I invite you to view them.

4.0 Corporations Are Not People: Responding to the Supreme Court in Citizens United
Jeffrey Clements
How Class Works – 2012 conference opening plenary session and Stony Brook University Provost Lecture, Thursday evening, June 7, 2012

5.0 May Day in New York City: Occupy, Labor, and Community
with Penny Lewis, Teresa Gutierrez, Thisanjali Gangoda, and Amy Muldoon
How Class Works – 2012 conference plenary session, Friday morning June 8, 2012

9.0 Awards at Conference Banquet
Working Class Studies Association – to Franco Barchiesi (best book), Steven Brier (best article), and Jamie McCallum (best dissertation) in 2011
Center for Study of Working Class Life – Award for Lifetime Contributions to Social Justice for Working People, to Stanley Aronowitz and Dennis Serrette
Friday evening June 8, 2012

11.0 The U.S. in 2012: What’s Class Got to Do with It? A Roundtable Discussion
with Bill Fletcher, Jr., Juan Gonzalez, Bob Herbert, Frances Fox Piven, and Michael Zweig
How Class Works – 2012 conference plenary session, Saturday morning June 9, 2012

We have reserved space at Stony Brook for the How Class Works – 2014 conference, June 4-7, 2014. The first call for presentations will go out in the spring of 2013.

with best wishes


Michael Zweig
Director, Center for Study of Working Class Life
Department of Economics
State University of New York

Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom–New Issue of Critical Education

Critical Education
Vol 3 No 6

Consumers or Critical Citizens? Financial Literacy Education and Freedom
Chris Arthur
Toronto District School Board
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto


Given the recent and ongoing economic crisis and high levels of consumer debt, the teaching of financial literacy in elementary and secondary schools has received widespread support. Too often, however, financial literacy education policy documents promote the individualization of economic risk and privilege the autonomy of the consumer or consumer-citizen over that of the critical citizen. This article argues for the necessity of a critical financial literacy education aimed at supporting critical citizens by providing a Marxist critique of the dominant liberal and neoliberal notions of freedom and responsibility reproduced in financial literacy education policy documents. The choice highlighted here is not between financial illiteracy and financial literacy but between accommodating oneself to neoliberal capitalism’s needs so as to remain in perpetual competition with others or understanding and collectively altering an economic system that promotes alienation, insecurity and exploitation.