Over the past few decades, American parents and students have increasingly been positioned as consumers of education, expected to make well informed choices within an educational marketplace. Charter schools are one widely-marketed offering, compared to traditional public schools in ideologically charged literature which drives a wedge between schools and the students within while largely neglecting the voices of teachers. This study will examine the ways in which educators have come to understand this new landscape of educational choice. Through the analysis of eleven in-depth interviews with Chicago educators, I explore the following: How do public and charter school educators view and navigate the neoliberal turn in American education? Drawing upon David Harvey’s critique of neoliberalism and Michael Apple’s discussion of the market model of education, I examine educators’ views of the competition and privatization which have permeated Chicago’s education system. Additionally, I engage Pierre Bourdieu’s “Forms of Capital,” analyzing the ways in which educators view the role of institutionalized cultural capital when making career decisions. Educators’ stories serve to complicate the charter-public debate, as teachers from both school types disapprove of the race for achievement and largely view charter schooling as ineffective educational reform. This study’s contributors reflect on the disconnect between those in schools and those writing education policy, delineating the ways in which the charter school movement has come to impede the ideals of public education in Chicago. This study calls for the respect and trust which educators deserve, starting with the institution of an elected school board in Chicago as a means of creating communication and collaboration among the city’s educators and politicians.


McConnell, David


Sociology and Anthropology


Educational Sociology


Education, charter school movement, neoliberalism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Dana Stamos