Resisting Neoliberal Education Restructuring in Ontario


  • Beyhan Farhadi Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto



privatization, public education, neoliberlism, resistance, activism


This paper explores how advocates in Ontario have resisted neoliberal restructuring in education since the 2018 general election, which marked an intensification of market-oriented reforms. Shaped by the insights of 23 participants, this paper shows how resistance has been accessed through multiple entry points and has been spatially heterogeneous, replete with internal contradiction. It also highlights the cost of resistance for participants whose relationship to systems engender oppression and harm. Broadly, this paper calls for vulnerable reflection on fantasies of a “good life” shaped by a normative neoliberal order that interferes with collective flourishing. Through emergent strategy, which aligns action with a vision for social justice, this paper values the non-linear and manifold ways individuals are embedded in systems; the fractal nature of change, which takes place at all scales; and a love ethic, which sustains relational the spiritual growth necessary for solidarity.

Author Biography

Beyhan Farhadi, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Beyhan Farhadi is an assistant professor of educational policy and equity at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She researches education, technology, and policy enactment in public schools; teacher leadership and activism; and resistance to market-driven neoliberal education reforms. Her work is oriented toward transforming – rather than reforming – the conditions of social injustice.






Defending and Strengthening Public Education as a Common Good