Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Transformative Education and Social Change

Committee Chairperson

John Elmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Curry Malott, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dana Morrison, Ph.D.


Outside influence in education is nothing new, but over the last half-century, these influences have coalesced around a single point of interest: infusing American education with principles of free-market economics. As a result, teachers are now instructing students in a fast-paced, hyper-competitive, data-driven environment where performance and quantitative outcomes are paramount. Consequently, students are no longer taught, nor encouraged, to be active participants in a democratic society but rather workers in an ever- expanding capitalist market that mandates winners and losers - a notion wholly contradictory to the spirit of education.

The purpose of this research is to indicate how market principles not only undermine student learning but also threaten the nature of our democracy. The founding fathers believed an education grounded in small “r” republican values would ensure the continuation of the United States beyond their generation. Therefore, when education if forcible aligned with the principles of capitalism, the concept of the public good is supplanted by unmitigated competition, and the ideals of a participatory democracy replaced by a devotion to the market economy. In the spirit of fighting back, I have proposed a six-session workshop to help teachers define, identify, and correct the market's influence in modern American schools. Rather than yielding education to reformers with little interest in what is best for students, this campaign seeks to empower teachers to make the change they demand.

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