Crisis in Education? The Crisis Is with the Critics, and It Is Not an Accident

It is time to fight. Educators in higher education and K-12 must mobilize. Before they can do this however, they must understand the situation. Education is under attack, this is no secret. The general public and educators themselves are bombarded with information about how K-12 education and higher education is in a time of crisis [1]. But there is no crisis. The “crisis” has been manufactured in an effort to discredit public education and restructure it as a market good [2]. This is the “shock doctrine” of capitalism [3]. Capitalism is an economic system based on greed and accumulation [4]. In order to perpetuate itself, capitalism and the capitalists must find newer and more destructive methods to make a profit [5]. Crisis, whether real or manufactured offers a great opportunity to accomplish this task. Natural disasters, armed conflict and tragedies are exploited and then milked for their ability to bring in profits. Klein argues the second Iraq war of 2003 is a perfect example of the shock doctrine of capitalism [6]. The tragedy of September 11th was exploited, and then the corresponding fear and anxiety over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction was then used as a pretext to invade Iraq. Iraq was then made into a “free market paradise” [7]. Western contractors, private companies and entrepreneurs divided the spoils in Iraq including US government tax dollars [8].

The same crisis pattern is being repeated with education. Education at all levels is said to be in a state of crisis; teachers are failing their students; schools are failing the country and public education needs new and creative solutions in order keep up with the times [9] The evidence is standardized test scores, tests which are made by testing companies and for which they receive huge profits [10]. The solution we are told is the free market. Charter schools, vouchers and school choice are proposed remedies for public schools, while entrepreneurial endeavors, partnerships with private business and a pathological obsession with STEM disciplines for revenue generation are pushed for higher education [11]. All the while, private businesses, savvy investors, and entrepreneurs are dividing up the spoils of public education. Policymakers are re-routing public tax dollars toward for-profit, private, religious and virtual educational institutions and are severing funds to higher education, or at least only offering funds to potentially profitable disciplines like engineering and biotechnology and ignoring the arts, humanities and basic scientific research [12] Simply put, the crisis has been manufactured. Convince the public that there is a crisis, so they will agree to “fix” it. With the proposed remedy, many stand to make a profit. The shock doctrine of capitalism is simple. Create a crisis, exploit it and make a profit from it [13]. This is precisely what is being done with public education in the United States and the world over.

The object of neoliberal educational reformers, however, is not simply to profit from education. The longer term goal is to actually change the way educators, administrators and the taxpaying public conceive of public education [14]. The aim is to stamp out any notions of “the public good” associated with education and transform education into strictly market terms. The “crisis” is not with education; it has been manufactured by the so-called reformers – and educators must meet it head on.

  1. Giroux, 2012; Hill, 2012; Kincheloe, 2007
  2. Giroux, 2012; Hill, 2012; Kincheloe, 2007
  3. Klein, 2007
  4. Klein, 2007
  5. Giroux, 2011; Klein, 2007
  6. Klein, 2007
  7. Klein, 2007
  8. Klein, 2007
  9. Giroux, 2011; Hill, 2012; Kinchloe, 2007
  10. Giroux, 2011; Hill, 2012; Kinchloe, 2007; Newfield, 2008; Rhoads & Torres, 2008; Vestritich, 2008
  11. Giroux, 2011; Hill, 2012; Kinchloe, 2007; Rhoads & Torres, 2006
  12. Giroux, 2011; Hill, 2012; Kinchloe, 2007; Newfield, 2008; Rhoads & Torres, 2008; Vestritich, 2008
  13. Klein, 2007
  14. Marginson, 2007


  • Giroux, H. (2011). On critical pedagogy. New York, NY: Continuum
  • Hill, D. (2012). Immiseration capitalism, activism and education: Resistance, revolt and revenge Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 10, 1-34.
  • Kincheloe, J. (2007). Critical pedagogy in the twenty-first century; Evolution for survival. In Critical pedagogy: Where are we now? Edited by Peter McLaren and Joe Kincheloe. New York, NY: Peter Lang.
  • Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books.
  • Marginson, S. (2007). Hayekian neo-liberalism and academic freedom. Contemporary Readings in Law and Justice, 4, 86-114.
  • Newfield, C. (2008). Unmaking the public university: The forty year assault on the middle class. Quincy, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Rhoads, R., & Torres, C. (2006). University, state and market: The political economy of globalization in the Americas. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford Press.