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Searching for Freedom Within a Low-Ranking Alternative School in a Neoliberal Age

Sat, April 18, 2:45 to 4:15pm, Hyatt, Floor: East Tower - Purple Level, Riverside West


This paper explores how teachers and low SES students at a publicly-funded alternative school position themselves and their school in light neo-liberal discourses of accountability and competition. A critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992) of statements made by teachers and students is considered in light of a prominent right-wing Canadian think tank’s annual ranking of schools. Efforts to influence media coverage–and shape public debates–relating to school performance and public/private school choice by the Fraser Institute are juxtaposed with teachers and students’ perspectives in one of the lowest ranked schools in Quebec. This analysis identifies power effects of rankings, as well as struggles to define educational success outside of standardized neo-liberal discourses of accountability and competition.