Smyth, John (2008) Australia’s great disengagement with public education and social justice in educational leadership. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 40 (3). pp. 221-233. ISSN 0022-0620

Australia has been one of the countries to most enthusiastically embrace the neo-liberal conditions conducive to the dismantling of equitably provided public schooling. The article argues that part of the explanation for the absence of any effective challenge to this trajectory lies in the contradictory nature of the Australian identity. The ensemble of policies that have been officially promoted to produce this situation, include: an official process of disparaging public education, while eulogising the alleged virtues of private education; promoting school choice as the mechanism for upholding standards and accountability; encouraging structures and school cultures that bolster marketised views; deliberately cultivating inequities in resources and funding that exacerbate exit of a fearful middle class; and generally producing a compliant view of educational leadership that is deferent to management views. The effect has been a major shift of social justice off the wider Australian educational and political agenda.

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