Multicultural education usually arises from a concern that schools prepare young people for constructive public participation as citizens in a diverse society that is struggling with equity issues. Conventional multicultural education, which I will critique, tends to assume a liberal conception of citizenship that is based on individualism and a simplistic analysis of how power works. I will argue that the growing reach of neoliberalism requires reframing multicultural education and citizenship education. Neoliberalism can be understood as a ‘restoration of elite power’ in which increased privatization and market competition is eroding a sense of the public, linking education more firmly to the needs of large corporations, and facilitating the flow of wealth and power to a small global elite. Multicultural education conceptualized as a political project of social justice that embraces a diverse public, and that links local with global struggles for equity and human rights, offers a potential counter-narrative to neoliberal education, and a rich framework for considering citizenship.
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