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  • 1 Doctoral School of Educational and Cultural Science, University of Debrecen, 4032 Debrecen, Egyetem ter 1, Hungary, Debrecen, Hungary
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Karen, Starr. 2019 Education policy, neoliberalism, and leadership practice a critical analysisLondon: Routledge

Karen Starr is Professor and President of Deakin University, Professor SHK Asia Pacific, and Chair of the Opening Session, Deakin University School of Development and Leadership, Australia. Professor Starr focuses on leadership roles in all sectors of education, including higher education (senior academic and research staff and technical staff roles), schools (K-12), vocational education and training and early childhood education departments (governmental, independent and catholic).

This foundational book describes all aspects of neoliberalism and its massive impact on education. Drawing on research and exploring political developments across a range of contexts, this book critically analyses neoliberal education policies, practices, results they produce and the purposes they serve. The book asks how do education leaders view and explain the neoliberal effects, dilemmas and opportunities they create. They also try to answer why neoliberalism is the basis of educational policy, how new liberalism affects education, and what does this mean for the future.

The book consists of two parts. The first part composed of eleven chapters, including the introduction, which the author assigned to explain the misleading importance of education policy while the other sections were devoted to addressing the topics of globalization, free market, new liberalism, individualism, independence and political rationality in the exchange market in addition to privatization, selection, competition, improvement, innovation, entrepreneurship and efficiency, productivity, performance and accountability.

A rising tide lifts all boats' – a neoliberal aphorism – sums up Part I of this book, which discusses neoliberalism in education. The chapters in this section explain the origins of neoliberalism, its essential principles or axioms, and describe and critiques how these ideas play out in education policy and leadership practice.

The introductory chapter of the book explains the fundamental concepts discussed in the later chapters of this book. It is examining major international events and circumstances affecting national governments, local education systems and policymakers, with accompanying implications for individual educational institutions. The book explores how education leaders view, understand, and rationalize policy decisions, factors that influence their reactions and actions, and document emerging concerns and ideas of algebra. It studies political developments and perspectives of education leaders across a range of contexts in Australia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. It focuses on research in educational leadership and policy.

In the first part of the book, the author explains and discussed neoliberalism in education and its principles. She described and criticized these ideas and beliefs in education policy and leadership practices. The author reviews the effects of globalization, free-market economies and the new discourse of liberalism. It also explains the history of new liberal endeavours and serves their interests. The book analyses the feelings behind each neoliberal principle, the inspired educational policies, practices, impacts and the consequences of exercising leadership.

In the second part of the book, the author reviews four chapters on education entitled Education Is Off Course, What happened to equity?, The rise of anti-educationalism and bad faith, and Educational leadership in the neoliberalism era in addition to the concluding marks. The author of the book used another neoliberalism term, An Ebbing Tide…? Education, as a trusted social institution, has taken a hammer blow from neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has succeeded in changing the aims of education because of neoliberalism designed to serve the goals of capitalism. To implement capitalism, we need to privatize educational institutions. Education is ‘reform’ another good for buying and selling in a competitive market where the odds skewed in favour of the most fortunate individuals and institutions.

The book discusses the performance concerns related to extracting more work productivity and outputs, making judgements and comparisons about ‘work quality’, and instilling a strong sense of duty within individual employees to stimulate their efforts towards achieving organizational goals and needs. It embodies its performance, enterprise, productivity, efficiency, competition, improvement, innovation and entrepreneurship. The aspects production is formalized and explicit, imposed from outside, and its motives, while other elements are instilled in the psyche of individuals so that they are self-motivated. Thus, performance builds power relationships and is a new form of socialization and the moral system within the neoliberal ‘professionalism’ and ‘management’ based on more significant organization, compliance and accountability. Performance is the key to the personal effort of the new liberal subject who is continually learning to hold currencies in the labour market. Active systems are external assumptions and forms of control that transmit distrust among external drivers in the form of rewards and penalties aimed at stimulating and extracting optimal performance.

In the chapters of the second part, the author criticized the leaders of education (stick holders), that education leaders summarize the complex problems of capturing the mood of the public through social media as negative perceptions allow them to intervene and change education policies. The author explains educational that leadership wants equity and justice in education by education systems across liberal democracies. While social justice and equity are the sanctities of neoliberalism policies in the free market, the objectives for creating more important investments run counter to competitive individualism. The new ‘mitigation’ approach to shared liberalism fails to test equity, especially in education here and to feel disappointed.

The book explained that educational leaders declare equality goals progressively and silently, backtracking from the policy agenda without public debate, statement and agreement. However, during the 1980s and 1990s, social justice, equal opportunity, equity, inclusion, schedules, policies, programs and action plans were promulgated by education systems across liberal democracies.

Just as the author commented that education is ‘good’ for both the public and private sectors and because of its expense and importance in the lives of individuals, societies and nations, it is logical and reasonable to expect accountability for practice and quality. Transparency and accountability mechanisms serve as a guarantee to protect and support standards, to meet consumers' needs and expectations. Accountability systems are a practical and effective way to manage educational systems. Accountability also aims to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness while providing transparent information to ‘clients’ or ‘clients’ to exercise market options and make judgements based on individual personal interests. Vertical accountability is imposed and controlled externally and includes compliance requirements and formal rules, as well as audits, tests and reviews. Responsibility is how authorities retain power and influence autonomous institutions and individuals – they are the ‘toxins’ of neoliberalism how few controls many.

Reducing ownership as a priority of education policy is hardly surprising because the concepts of social justice and equity are critical to neoliberalism in the free market. Systems that underlie goals to create more significant investment run counter to competitive individuality. The neoliberal approach to dealing with the ordinary people failed the equality test, especially in education.

Education leaders have expressed growing concern about anti-educational, anti-intellectual, anti-authoritarian and anti-democratic sentiments that permeate local, national and global discourse. They cite situations in which teachers, educational institutions, and students can accuse of abandoning or compromising the fundamental aspects of what lies at the core of excellent education and ethical practice.

In the last chapter, the author explains that Neoliberal changes to policy have had profound effects on education, education institutions, education leadership, leadership practice and leaders' life. Underlying principles and forms of education power, knowledge and its leaders have been pushed into new ways of thinking and speaking about leadership practice. Neoliberal policy agendas have also fundamentally changed speech, thinking and activities within and about education.

Audit, compliance and accountability mechanisms must be provided at all levels of education so that the authorities can control educational institutions and obtain the information necessary to monitor and watch. Some education leaders feel that they are so small in the scheme of things that they cannot challenge a complaint or complaint as their possibilities are restricted. Education leaders see it morally correct, time-saving and part of their leadership role in mediating and avoiding potential harmful political impacts.

The author concluded that neoliberal policies in education are unproductive and ineffective. Education policy turns away from the aspirations of justice and social justice because this is a curse of neoliberalism. Governments must take responsibility for the problems created by neoliberalism because they have outsourced their powers, obligations and sources of advice in the 20th century gradually towards the commercial/private sector that aims to profit. Education leaders have a strong sense of management and have a greater tendency to ‘peer feel’ than ‘self-interest.’ The neoliberal practice has been effective in personalizing educational institutions and educational leadership. Education leaders in education need to change the focus thus to take responsibility for a broader range of knowledge, including the use of empirical research.

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Senior Editors

Founding Editor: Tamás Kozma (Debrecen University)

Editor-in-ChiefAnikó Fehérvári (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University)

Assistant Editor: Eszter Bükki (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University)

Associate editors: 
Karolina Eszter Kovács (Debrecen University)
Valéria Markos (Debrecen University)
Zsolt Kristóf (Debrecen University)


Editorial Board

  • Tamas Bereczkei (University of Pécs)
  • Mark Bray (University of Hong Kong)
  • John Brennan (London School of Economics)
  • Carmel Cefai (University of Malta)
  • Laszlo Csernoch (University of Debrecen)
  • Katalin R Forray (HERA Hungarian Educational Research Association)
  • Zsolt Demetrovics (Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest)
  • Csaba Jancsak (University of Szeged)
  • Gabor Halasz (Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest)
  • Stephen Heyneman (Vanderbilt University, Nashville)
  • Katalin Keri (University of Pecs)
  • Marek Kwiek (Poznan University)
  • Joanna Madalinska-Michalak (University of Warszawa)
  • John Morgan (Cardiff University)
  • Roberto Moscati (University of Milan-Bicocca)
  • Guy Neave (Twente University, Enschede)
  • Andrea Ohidy (University of Freiburg)
  • Bela Pukanszky (University of Szeged)
  • Gabriella Pusztai (University of Debrecen)
  • Peter Toth (HERA Hungarian Educational Research Association)
  • Juergen Schriewer (Humboldt University, Berlin)
  • Ulrich Teichler (University of Kassel)
  • Voldemar Tomusk (Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tallin)
  • Horst Weishaupt (DIPF German Institute for International Educational Research, Frankfurt a.M)
  • Pavel Zgaga (University of Ljubljana)


Address of editorial office

Dr. Anikó Fehérvári
Institute of Education, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University
Address: 23-27. Kazinczy út 1075 Budapest, Hungary



Hungarian Educational Research Journal
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Hungarian Educational Research Journal
Language English
Size B5
Year of
2021 Volume 11
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Founder Magyar Nevelés- és Oktatáskutatók Egyesülete – Hungarian Educational Research Association
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Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
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ISSN 2064-2199 (Online)

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