Education and Capitalism

Struggles for Learning and Liberation

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, a conservative, bipartisan consensus dominates about what’s wrong with our schools and how to fix them. In each case, those solutions scapegoat teachers, vilify our unions, and promise more private control and market mentality as the answer. In each case, students lose—especially students of color and the children of the working class and the poor.

This book, written by teacher activists, speaks back to that elite consensus. It draws on the ideas and experiences of social justice educators concerned with fighting against racism and for equality,
and those of activists oriented on recapturing the radical roots of the labor movement. Informed by a revolutionary vision of pedagogy, schools, and education, it paints a radical critique of education in Corporate America, past and present, and contributes to a vision of alternatives for education and liberation.

Inside are essays that trace Marxist theories of education under capitalism; outline the historical educational experiences of emergent bilingual and African American students; recap the history of teachers’ unions; analyze the neoliberal attack on public schools under Obama; critically appraise Paolo Freire’s legacy; and make the historical link between social revolution and struggles for literacy.

Click to Listen to Sarah Knopp and Jeff Bale Speak on the Book

About the author

Jeff Bale is assistant professor of second language education at Michigan State University. His work has appeared in Rethinking Schools, International Socialist Review, and CounterPunch.

Sarah Knopp is a public high school teacher in Los Angeles, California, and an activist with United Teachers Los Angeles.


“This book is a breath of fresh air! The chapters take on central issues in education with a clear vision of what could be.”
—Jean Anyon, author of Marx and Education

"Education and Capitalism clears the path for new understanding of the current assault on public schooling and points towards important directions if we are to save it.”
—Peter McLaren, author of Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution

" Education and Capitalism is a timely and decisive book that provides a framework for those of us engaged in the fight for better schools, stronger unions, and increased standard of living for all."
– Jesse Sharkey, Vice President of Chicago Teachers Union

“A must read for anyone interested in understanding the fundamental injustice of the corporate reform of public education in the United States.”
– Wayne Au, editor Rethinking Schools