Identity schools

Watching Australia:

UNSW School of Education is hosting a series of public lectures throughout 2011. The third lecture of the year will be conducted by Dr Kalervo Gulson entitled Identity schools, globalised education policy and re-imagining marketization.

In this paper, I will explore the relationship between identity, globalization and the micro-processes of choice that provide education policy and curriculum options, and which have denationalized prior ideas of public and private education. Specifically, I will focus on tracing the establishment of ‘identity schools’ in many countries, including the US, Australia and Canada. These public and private schools have been primarily initiated along singular identity lines pertaining to, for example, ethnicity and religion, and are often hard-fought for responses to the manifest failure of public schooling to address the educational needs of certain groups. These schools provide significant social, political and educational benefits for students who have been historically marginalized, and play important roles as part of community control and the insertion of cultural legitimacy in schooling. However, as these schools are also enabled through marketised educational policies, this has led some scholars to argue that education and economic policies that promote ‘identity schools’ are a new force in conservative politics that simultaneously promote school choice and school competition, while also complicating progressive and conservative education. I will conclude by briefly touching on the paradoxes of consuming as solidarity, consumers (students and parents) as part of social movements, and choice as progressive politics.


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