Is it a Choice?

Examining Neoliberal Influences in Three Ontario Education Reforms




neoliberalism, educational choice, neoconservatism, public education, privatization, education reform


In this article, we draw on various critical perspectives to theorize neoliberal choice and examine how it has been deployed to market new educational reforms in Ontario. We begin by offering a contemporary framing of neoliberalism that looks at its core elements as well as its chameleon-like tendencies to draw on neoconservative elements as needed. We also furnish critiques of neoliberalism by engaging Adams et al.’s (2019) description of neoliberal “choice” as one component of a larger psychological exercise in support of capitalism. We then examine how the language of choice has been used to position three recent Ontario education reforms: (a) mandatory e-learning; (b) growth of international students; and (c) the revision of curricula according to economic ends. Finally, we argue that the implementation of these reforms ironically has produced less choice for stakeholders through austerity and standardization.

Author Biographies

Adamo Di Giovanni, University of Windsor

Adamo Di Giovanni is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor. His dissertation research investigates how neoliberalism and capitalism shape contemporary education discourse and policy. He explores how education policy might evolve toward collectivism and community as a way to address inequality and more effectively deal with 21st century social, environmental, and economic issues.

Lana Parker, University of Windsor

Dr. Lana Parker is an Associate Professor of Education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor. She employs philosophical methods and critical discourse tools to analyze neoliberal trends in education, including influences on policy and curriculum. Her work interrogates these trends in contrast with the possibilities of ethical, responsible, and responsive pedagogy. In addition to working as an advocate for education as a public good through the Public Exchange Project, Lana’s nationally funded research includes a phenomenological analysis of how capitalism and social media shape how youth engage with information, including mis- and disinformation.







Defending and Strengthening Public Education as a Common Good