Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Elementary and Special Education

Committee Chair

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

Julie Garlen

Committee Member 3 Email



This dissertation will raise questions regarding institutional structures that have perpetuated a hierarchical structure within the school mirroring that of society, the commodification of education, the deskilling of educators, and the deterioration of a democratic education (Giroux, 2008; Harvey, 2005; Saltman, 2012). Using a critical theory framework, this dissertation will expose the ways that neoliberal ideology has justified the need for domination, competition, excessive individualism and accountability; all of which can be accomplished through the use of tracking. Within the neoliberal framework, both teachers and students assume roles of economic beings, of producers and consumers, working desperately to increase their market value (Attick, 2017; Chomsky, 2016, Foucault, 2008). Knowledge is sought for capital enhancement, not for developing the capacities of democratic citizens (Apple and Beane, 2007; Brown, 2015).

Neoliberal ideology denounces that there are in fact alternatives, but one can re-envision public education through employing critical pedagogy that provides all students with equitable educational opportunities within a democracy (Apple, 2006; Freire, 1998). I will argue that teachers and reform efforts must strive to reconceptualize intelligence while expanding our view of what it means to be educated in a United States public school. The tracking structure alone has not led to the injustices within, but instead has normalized them. Reconceptualizing intelligence and increasing dialogue about what it means to be educated are ways to live within the contradictions of theory and practice. We must value free minds over free markets.

Research Data and Supplementary Material