Co-opting Equity: Advancing a Neoliberal Agenda in Manitoba Education Reforms


  • Ellen Bees University of Manitoba



Critical Policy Analysis, Critical discourse analysis, Critical Race Theory, Equity, Neoliberalism, education reform, Achievement Gap


This paper uses critical policy analysis to investigate how the concept of equity has been co-opted to promote a neoliberal agenda in education reforms in Manitoba. Early provincial reform documents contained a narrow definition of equity focused primarily on closing achievement gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. These reform documents were rejected by the public, in part due to concerns about equity. The Manitoba Education Action Plan was introduced in 2022, which more explicitly focused on achieving equity as part of the education reform process. However, the framing of equity in the Action Plan was narrow, emphasizing individualism rather than a more systemic pursuit of equity. While some recommended actions in the Action Plan have promoted a more inclusive and culturally responsive education system, other actions have advanced a neoliberal agenda focused on work-readiness and accountability, while actions to remove barriers to education have been undertaken with limited urgency.

Author Biography

Ellen Bees, University of Manitoba

Ellen Bees is a middle school teacher who completed her Master of Education at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on equity, neoliberal education reforms, and settler colonialism. She is an advocate for public education as part of People for Public Education Manitoba.






Defending and Strengthening Public Education as a Common Good