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Article

Feminist Frameworks for Educational Leadership in the United States  

Catherine Marshall and Torrie Edwards

Feminist insights offer ways to rethink and restructure schooling to fit with realities faced by educators, students, and families. This article relies on its model of values affecting schooling policies and practices then presents the range of feminisms, It shows how feminisms would be seen as looking awry and would be assessed as inadequate and inappropriate for leaders. It then charts their implications for school leaders, who will be able to identify the values, structures, and power arrangements to be questioned and altered.

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Politics, Power, and Social Hegemony  

William Kyle Ingle and Lora Cohen-Vogel

In education, politics, power, and hegemony pertain to the ways actors with competing values work to forward their perspectives on social policy related to schools and schooling. Central to politics is conflict over scarce resources and influence. Politics is endemic in the education system. In the United States and other federations, it is manifest at multiple levels of that education system; it operates at the international, national, state, district, and school levels. Adding to this complexity, a wide array of actors shape the politics of education. As a field of study, the politics of education draws from and contributes to theories that help unpack this complexity and answer questions about how governments work and policy decisions get made. In the context of educational administration and organizations, power is a broad concept with many definitions, but at the core is control. There are many sources of power in schools as organizations, including reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, and expert power. Scholars in education have also classified power as formal or informal, personal or professional. Regardless of its source, there are problems and pitfalls with the use of power by educational leaders, and an overreliance of one source of power can come at the expense of another. The overwhelming hold of power and domination of one group over another is the definition of social hegemony. Social hegemony in education has taken various forms, showing up in student-assignment and school-discipline policies, hiring norms and practices, and reforms that purport to broaden opportunity and expand civil rights. Scholarly approaches like critical race theory and feminist critical policy analysis have worked to expose hegemonic devices, procedures, and practices that help explain persistent inequities in educational systems around the world.

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The Interpretation of “Local” Literacy Practices through Ethnography  

Kate Pahl and Zanib Rasool

Ethnography is a practice of inscribing local practice into texts, developed in the context of social anthropology. Local literacy practices often remain hidden, dependent on context and shaped by histories and cultures. Literacy is entwined with how lives are lived. Collaborative ethnography enables an approach that permits researchers to collaboratively develop research questions with participants and, rather than researching on people, researchers work with people as coresearchers. Local literacy practices are situated in homes and communities as well as within everyday contexts such as markets and mosques. Community literacy practices can be collaboratively understood and studied using this approach. Communities experience and practice diverse and multiple literacies, both locally and transnationally, and mapping this diversity is key to an understanding of the fluid and changing nature of literacies. Literacies can be understood as being multilingual, digital, transnational, and multimodal, thus expanding the concept of literacy as lived within communities. Threaded through this analysis is a discussion of power and whose literacy practices are seen as powerful within community contexts. Collaborative ethnography is a powerful methodology to excavate and co-analyze community literacy practices. Other methods that can explore local literacies include visual and sensory ethnography. Power sharing in terms of the design and architecture of the research is important for hearing voices and working equitably. There are many concepts introduced within, including the idea of literacy practices, the link between literacy and identity, the importance of an understanding of multilingualism, and the importance of situating literacy in communities.

Article

Ontology, Epistemology, and Critical Theory in STEM Education  

Shakhnoza Kayumova and Kathryn J. Strom

The persistence of inequities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is at least partially due to Eurocentric ontological and epistemological perspectives. Eurocentric thinking foregrounds epistemology (knowing and what can be accepted as knowledge) and separates it from ontology (worldviews and assumptions about the nature of being and reality), while completely disregarding axiology (ethics). This obscures the background assumptions of those who produce knowledge by positioning a particular mode of existence (i.e., Western social, cultural, and historical ways of being) as natural and, in turn, reproduces it as truth. Historically, this logic constructed a hierarchized binary that positions Western ways of knowing and being as the norm, setting up non-Western ontologies and epistemologies as inferior and “other.” Ultimately, this perspective has served as a justification for colonialization and enslavement and maintained White supremacy. Science culture, broadly construed as STEM disciplines, continues to be constituted based on dominant Western epistemologies. Through curriculum and pedagogy, children and youth are socialized into the dominant cultural models of what it means to be a science person and do science, with disciplinary knowledge and practices grounded in epistemological and ontological positions such as objectivity, universality, and neutrality. Valuing particular forms of reasoning, culture, and scientific practice, combined with understanding all scientific contributions to have emerged from Europe, perpetuates White supremacy by ensuring the hegemonic reproduction of Western epistemology and ontology as dominant while positioning all other cultures as scientifically inferior. Youth from nondominant communities are in turn constructed from a dehumanizing, deficit stance, and they are left with only two options: assimilate into the dominant culture of science or be excluded from participating in science learning. However, many feminist, Indigenous, postcolonial, and neo-materialist scholars argue that epistemology and ontology are co-constituted—that is, they co-create each other—and therefore cannot be considered separately. This relational, nondualistic perspective sees reality in terms of heterogeneous mixtures, promoting a view in which the reality is not static and fixed but fluid, always in movement. And reality is not preexisting but constantly co-created through ongoing material-discursive, nature-culture relations that involve humans but do not center them. Consequently, this produces a view of knowledge that is situated, contingent, and partial because it is shaped by the knowledge maker(s) and the multiple social, political, cultural (and so on) systems in which they are enmeshed. Given that discourse, spaces, places, and other entities all shape the nature of relations and interactions, conditions for equity and justice in STEM classrooms do not preexist: Equity emerge as practices through just relations in specific times and places among the various actors and perspectives that must coexist for students to learn in productive ways. Creating the conditions for such emergence requires reconfiguration of relations from hierarchical and exclusionary to pluriversal. Pluriversal praxis requires embracing an ontoepistemological shift based on relationality, interdependence, embodiment, ethics, and care toward youth, diverse communities, and more-than-human collectives. While this may seem like a huge (and perhaps even impossible) undertaking, it is possible to think strategically about the ontoepistemological shifts that are needed. For example, teachers can engage in professional development that deliberately teaches a collectivist approach and emphasizes the joint construction of knowledge while helping them raise their sociopolitical consciousness and engage in critical reflection. Such entry points can help teachers and researchers develop more expansive and epistemologically heterogeneous views of STEM curriculum, teaching, and learning.

Article

Alternative Conceptions of Adolescence as a Basis for Curriculum  

Nancy Lesko, Jacqueline Simmons, and Jamie Uva

Adolescence has been defined as a unique stage of development, and youth are marked and understood by their differences from adults and children. This perceived border between youth and adults also influences curriculum development, since knowledge for youth is often determined by their current developmental stage and/or what they need to know and be able to do when they are adults. Thus, curricular knowledge often participates in keeping youth “less than” adults. When we start with a conception of youth that emphasizes their competence or power, curricular options open. If we recognize that youth can take on political organizing or use social media in more sophisticated ways than adults, schools’ tight management of youth appears overzealous and miseducative. To rethink conceptions of youth, educators must confront the power differentials built into and maintained by school curricular knowledge.

Article

Sociology of Gender and Education  

Mohammad Naeimi and Jón Ingvar Kjaran

Sociology of gender and education is an interdisciplinary subfield of inquiry in sociology that is situated in feminist sociological theories and education/pedagogy/schooling. The field investigates complex, multileveled, and unequal distributions of power in educational spaces regarding gender constructions, identities, and characteristics such as femininity, masculinity, non-normativity, and nonbinarism. More precisely, sociology of gender and education deeply inquiries how and to what extend education systems and schools, as modern institutions of society and public sectors, embody power and resources to reinforce and deploy the social order built historically around male gender privilege while maintaining women’s and other marginalized groups’ issues at the periphery. The researchers of this field, therefore, by touching upon historical, political, and sociocultural accounts, highlight and criticize the heteronormative, patriarchal, and male-centered inherence of the educational environment that (re)produces gender distinctions, gender inequality, and gender-based violence. These gender inequalities can be found in areas and aspects of education including curricula, learning material, teacher-student interaction, and school culture.

Article

Micropolitics in School Leadership  

Jane Clark Lindle

The concept of micropolitics in schooling originated in the latter part of the 20th century and contrasted macropolitical analyses of central ministries’ directives, primarily in English-speaking education systems, with more localized forms of governance, as in the United States. Either form of educational governance envelops daily interactions among governmental agencies, school personnel, and stakeholders. As political scientists long have studied macropolitics, sociologists and educationists focused on micropolitics found in schools’ short- and long-term decisions. Typical decisions, which generate micropolitics, include how schools carry on teaching and learning and range from formalized policy implementation to negotiations over scarce resources as big as allocation of teacher–pupil ratios and as momentary and small as distribution of paper and pencils. Given its local focus, scholars of micropolitics assume that the conditions of schooling generate and sustain persistent conflict, and thus they study how such conflict surfaces, who participates, who wins or loses, and what roles school leaders play. Conflicts surround schools’ internal and external communities’ power structures. The power players, groups and individuals, contest the purposes of schooling and work to influence their agenda. These influential moves may reshape macro-policies and directives, making policy implementation a localized project. Internal and external constituencies struggle over resource allocation, frequently under conditions of scarcity, which provides an arena for investigating decision participation. As with studies in macropolitics, the methods vary with the research questions. Because of the high-engagement dynamics in the study of micropolitics in schools, discursive methods that focus on communications, relationships, and media dominate these studies.

Article

Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Early Childhood Education  

Alexandra C. Gunn

Formal early childhood education is a relatively modern institution to which increasing numbers of children are routinely exposed. Since the modern invention of childhood, the early childhood years have been increasingly established as a site for public and private investment in the name of individual and community development, the achievement of educational success, increased human productivity, and ultimately labor market productivity and excellence. As various forms of early childhood education have developed around the world, each has been imbued with values, perspectives, norms, and standards of its pioneers. They have also drawn upon and reinforced certain truths, knowledges, practices, and expectations about children, childhood, education, and society. As microcosms of society whose inhabitants are largely novice members of the communities of which they are part, teachers in early childhood education are routinely addressing issues of exclusion, injustice, and inequity with children and families. French historian and poststructural philosopher Michel Foucault’s (1926–1984) interests in the nexus of power-knowledge-truth and its consequences for life offer avenues for comprehending how modern institutions, such as systems of early childhood education, invest in and bring about certain forms of knowledge and practice. His methods of genealogical inquiry and discourse analysis make visible the workings of power as it moves on, in, and through human bodies. The perspectives made visible by Foucauldian analyses show how techniques, developed and applied within institutions, form humans in particular ways. Thus, it is possible to see the interplay between power-truth-knowledge, how things come to be, and how they may change.

Article

Motherhood and Education  

Koeli Goel

Motherhood is the institution on which state and society have traditionally depended for preparing a well-socialized populace even before formal educational systems begin to have an effect. Mothering has taken a new urgency in a 21st-century globalized, neoliberal, and intricately connected world in which the social contract between the state and the individual has been in profound revision. Mothers are being expected to adapt to rapidly changing educational environments with on-site school systems disrupted in response to global health crises and homeschooling assuming spectacularly new meanings. New blended roles for tutoring, mentoring, and counseling while also nurturing the child are now the newest normal for mothers. Considering the pivotal role played by mothers in a human being’s birth, socialization, and education, perhaps educational research can progressively encourage a more nuanced incorporation of motherhood studies. It might be useful to examine the relationship between motherhood and education within a framework of familial power relations combined with a global studies in education perspective. The different facets of motherhood as well as the entangling of care and power are critical to the project of education. Motherhood as institution, motherhood as identity, and motherhood as experience thus become crucial coordinates for an interdisciplinary engagement with motherhood’s relationship with education. While educational technologies and online communication platforms have incrementally transformed the field of education, the mothers role has evolved and mothers often need to be educated so they may best guide their digital native wards. Parents jointly take many decisions regarding children’s education and future, but it is most often the mother who follows through with the agenda. This close personal involvement brings additional responsibilities, authority, and power—all of which have epistemological consequences, highlighting areas that might help establish nuanced connections between motherhood and education.

Article

Educational Biopolitics  

Gregory Bourassa

Educational biopolitics is a growing field of study that explores the intersections of education, life, and power. A central question this literature has formed is a powerful, albeit familiar one: what types of life do schools validate, and what types of life do schools attempt to negate? Given this focus, the concept of educational life has emerged as one of the key units of analysis that informs inquiries in this field. There are two predominant modes of engagement that characterize studies in educational biopolitics: (a) analytical endeavors that seek to understand the operation of contemporary logics of biopower (a power over life) in schools and (b) affirmative educational endeavors that seek to highlight the potential of life to create power. Each approach begins with an understanding that schools do more than transmit knowledge; they are sites of struggle over the production, reproduction, and management of subjectivity. These approaches have led to unique inquiries that explore a number of tangentially related themes and make use of various concepts, including disposability, extractive schooling, and the common.

Article

Critical Participatory Action Research, Critical Discourse Analysis and Praxis  

Nicolina Montesano Montessori

Critical discourse analysis (CDA) and participatory action research (PAR) reinforce each other as critical research approaches toward social transformation and social justice provided to humans, other species, and the ecosystem at large. Both disciplines are suitable to be embedded in a critical emancipatory research paradigm. Both CDA and PAR are problem-oriented, contextualized forms of social research. Both CDA and PAR are sensitive to the macro, meso, and micro dimensions of social life and the dynamics and relations between these levels. Both CDA and PAR envision social reality as a—respectively—discursive or social construct which, therefore, is—in part—a matter of choice. Both CDA and PAR include the potential of social or organizational change. CDA does so by displaying hidden ideological effects of texts and discourses so as to create awareness and may suggest alternatives; PAR by analyzing existing situations and investigating and implementing alternatives as part of its collective research efforts. Both include the notion of agency and the potential of change, whether in organizations, communities, or in society at large. Both consider the construction of knowledge as a social practice. Both CDA and PAR have iterative research methodologies. CDA reinforces PAR due to its robust theoretical basis, while PAR opens up new ways for CDA to enlarge its impact on the social world beyond academia through the participation of agents. Both CDA and PAR are forms of praxis in that they perform research in social and discursive practice in situated context. Both explicitly rely on theories of practice that include Aristotle, Paulo Freire, and Antonio Gramsci. They do so with the purpose of creating awareness, questioning routines and existing practices, and improving these in an emancipatory project to contribute to a better and a more socially just world. Integrating CDA and PAR and rooting these in a philosophy of praxis creates a solid, inclusive basis for problem-oriented research, considered of high relevance to questioning current hegemonic structures and opening up socially and ecologically just solutions to address the crucial problems of the early 21st century.

Article

Human Rights Education  

A. Kayum Ahmed

Human rights education (HRE) can be described as a tool for popularizing and giving effect to the universal human rights regime. The United Nations (UN) defines HRE as (a) acquiring knowledge about human rights and the skills to exercise these rights, (b) developing values, attitudes, and beliefs that support and reinforce human rights; and (c) defending and advancing human rights through behavior and action. HRE is therefore an ideological instrument deployed as a tactic to inspire agency and activism, primarily as a counterbalance to state power. HRE as tactics is used to denote the education and training of individuals and groups working toward claiming certain protections for themselves or on behalf of those on the margins of society. This typology encompasses the range of legal, advocacy, and policy tools available within human rights frameworks to uphold and protect the rights of individuals and communities. But it is also important to recognize that human rights discourses can been appropriated by certain states to strengthen their sovereign power. HRE as sovereignty acknowledges that states, as well as corporations and far-right civil society groups, can appropriate human rights language in order to reinforce power and legitimacy. States who engage in HRE as sovereignty deliberately employ human rights language with the aim of constructing a self-serving narrative that entrenches power or legitimizes their behavior and actions. HRE as sovereignty characterizes the appropriation of HRE to entrench power through the creation of an official, immutable narrative embedded in human rights language.

Article

Curriculum Influences: William James and Michel Foucault  

Bernadette Baker and Clare O'Farrell

William James (1841–1910), working primarily out of the United States, and Michel Foucault (1926–1984), working primarily out of France, are two very different figures who both made an impact on current theories of education. Even if the primary focus of their work is not education, their ideas challenge what it is that makes education recognizable as education and takes issue with its very identity as a discipline. William James, who began publishing in the 1870s, is generally described as a philosopher and psychologist. He remains well-known for his work on pragmatism in the wake of Charles Sanders Peirce’s pragmaticism and for his work on religion, ethics, and mind theory, but he also devoted considerable time to the study of parapsychology and gave some attention to teacher education. Foucault has been variously described as a philosopher, historian, historian of ideas, and a social and political theorist. His work addressed an impressive array of fields across the sciences, literature, art, ethics, and institutional, political, and social history, and spanned a wide range of historical periods mainly in European and French history from the 13th century to the 20th century with later excursions into the Ancient Greek and early Christian eras. Foucault’s work has been widely, but selectively, deployed within education studies across the globe, with a strong focus on his notions of power, governmentality, surveillance, subjectivity, discourse, and ethics in their various iterations. James’s work has been relatively less deployed, with emphasis on the application of his version of pragmatism, theories of mind, and talks to teachers. The work of the two thinkers may be considered to overlap in two important ways: first, in their respective approaches to the notion of practice, namely the idea of philosophy as strategic and located in day-to-day concrete experience rather than occupying the rarefied realms of abstraction; and second, their interest in the margins of knowledge – knowledge that has been excluded by mainstream science and accepted ways of thinking. In the case of James, this interest manifests in his long-term studies in the field of parapsychology and in the case of Foucault in his interest in the meandering byways and monstrosities of the history of ideas, of long-forgotten knowledge rejected by the scientific mainstream or formulated on the margins of society.

Article

Social Geography, Space, and Place in Education  

Aspa Baroutsis, Barbara Comber, and Annette Woods

Society is constituted by both historical and spatial elements; however, education research, policy, and practice often subordinates the spatial in preference for the temporal. In what is often referred to as the “spatial turn,” more recently education researchers have acknowledged spatial concepts to facilitate understandings and inform debates about identity, belonging, social justice, differentiation, policy, race, mobility, globalization, and even digital and new communication modes, amongst many others. Social geographers understand place as more than a dot on a map, instead focusing on the sociocultural and sociomaterial aspects of spaces. Space and place are core elements of social geography. Schools are comprised of architectural, material, performative, relational, social, or discursive spaces, all of which are socially constructed. Schools and education contexts, as social spaces and places, produce and reproduce modes of social interactions and social practices while also mediating the relational and pedagogical practices that operate within. Pedagogical spaces are also about the exercise of power—a spatial governmentality to regulate behavior. Yet pedagogy can focus on place-based and place-conscious practices that highlight the connectedness between people and their non-human world. A focus on the sociospatial in education research is able to foreground inequalities, differences, and power relations that are able to speak to policies and practices. As such, in this field there is often a focus is on spatial justice, where inequalities based on location, mobility, poverty, or indigeneity are analyzed using spatial understandings of socioeconomic or political characteristics. This brings together connections between place and space in a powerful combination around justice, equity, and critical thinking.

Article

Critical Policy Analysis in Education  

Kate O'Connor and Sophie Rudolph

Critical policy analysis has emerged as a prominent tradition of research in the field of education. Beginning in the 1980s in response to the failings of more traditional forms of policy analysis, this work typically examines the kinds of discourses and power relations that may be at play through the construction and function of policy. It is critical in orientation and interested in the social, cultural, and political context of policy as well as how analyzing policy may reveal opportunities for social change and reform. In contrast to traditional approaches which take policy problems as given, research in this tradition interrogates how discourse, language, and text set the context for how policy problems and solutions are conceptualized and how and why particular issues come to be framed as objects of concern. Critical policy analysis encompasses a range of different methodological approaches rather than a single method, with the approach taken dependent on the nature of the policy under analysis, the site of its production, the purpose of the research, and the positionality of the researcher. Four particularly prominent and generative approaches to critical policy analysis in educational research include (a) analysis of how policy is formed and operates across local and global contexts; (b) the What’s the Problem Represented to Be? approach; (c) research on networks and mobilities; and (d) research drawing on Indigenous Critical Discourse Analysis. Each of these approaches offers insights for understanding problems of inequality and power in education and their origins and reproduction within and in relation to policy.

Article

Community Participation in School Management in Developing Countries  

Mikiko Nishimura

Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option. Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.

Article

Democratic Leadership  

Philip A. Woods

Democratic leadership suggests that leadership can include people rather than treating them simply as followers of a leader. Understanding what this means conceptually, and its implications for practice in schools and other educational settings, raises complex and challenging issues. The concept of democracy has a variety of meanings. The concept of leadership itself is much debated, with increasing attention being given to the idea that in practice it is a distributed and emergent phenomenon involving not only senior leaders but also numerous others who contribute to leadership through everyday interactions. A narrow, minimalist idea of democratic leadership sees it as a style of leadership that a principal or headteacher might adopt so that others, such as staff and students, feel consulted and included. This has limited potential for transforming education. A broader conception, with greater relevance to education, sees democratic leadership as having a much richer and more ambitious focus. A rich perspective of democratic leadership not only promotes power sharing and transforming dialogue that enhances understanding (rather than entrenching people’s existing views and self-interests) but also cultivates holistic learning as rounded, ethical “citizens” of the organization and relational well-being through a community that fosters both belonging and individuality. Democratic leadership that is rich in this way encourages a sense of agency across the school and addresses power differences so the practice of democratic leadership becomes a shared, collaborative process in which all as co-leaders contribute proactively to innovation and the life of the school. It also recognizes the importance of the structural context from which leadership as a complex, distributed phenomenon emerges. Democratic leadership grows from and is expressed through enabling structures, such as a culture that explicitly shows that inclusive participation is valued and institutional spaces and resources that provide opportunities for power sharing, transforming dialogue and the growth of holistic learning and relational well-being. Both (enabling) structures and (participative and empowering) agency are essential features of democratic leadership.

Article

Autism, Neurodiversity, and Inclusive Education  

Sara M. Acevedo and Emily A. Nusbaum

A brief history of the emergence of the inclusive schools movement demonstrates its reliance on the pathologizing paradigms that are both the foundations and frameworks of traditional special education. Throughout this recent history, the utilization of a positivist approach to research and practice for autistic students, both those who are segregated and those who have access to mainstream classrooms, has maintained a person-fixing ideology. Instead, a neurodiversity framework adopts an integrative approach, drawing on the psychosocial, cultural, and political elements that effectively disrupt the systematic categorization of alternative neurological and cognitive embodiment(s) and expressions as a host of threatening “disorders” that must be dealt with by cure, training, masking, and/or behavioral interventions to be implemented in the classroom. Centering the personal, lived experiences and perspectives of autistic and otherwise neurodivergent activists and scholars affiliated with the U.S. neurodiversity movement offers an emancipatory lens for representing and embodying neurological differences beyond traditional special education’s deficit-based discourses and practices. This emphasis on political advocacy and cultural self-authorship effectively challenges unexamined, universalizing assumptions about whose bodyminds are “educable” and under what auspices “educability” is conceptualized and written into special-education curricula.

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Changing Global Gender Involvement in Higher Education Participation  

Miriam E. David

The global expansion of higher education since the last quarter of the 20th century reflects political and socioeconomic developments, including opening up economic opportunities and addressing neoliberal agendas such as corporatization, digitization, individualization, and marketization. This process of the so-called massification of higher education has also been called academic capitalism, whereby business models predominate what was once considered a public good and a form of liberal arts education. These transformations have implications for questions of equal opportunity and social justice in regard to gender and sexuality linked to diversity, race, and social class, or intersectionality. Transformations include involvement and participation for students, academics, faculty, and researchers. From a feminist perspective, the various transformations have not increased equality or equity but have instead reinforced notions of male power, misogyny and patriarchy, and social class and privilege, despite the massive increase in involvement of women as students and academics through policies of widening access or participation. The new models of global higher education exacerbate rather than erode inequalities of power and prestige between regions, institutions, and gendered, classed, and raced individuals.

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Examining Education Reforms of India in the Matrix of Rights and Biopolitics  

Jyoti Dalal

Three significant reforms were established at the turn of the century in India: the National Curriculum Framework of 2005, the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education of 2009, and the Right to Education Act of 2009. All three reforms reflect a contradiction between the rights of citizens and the regulatory biopolitical inertia of the state. Indian State has undergone cyclical shifts in its orientation. In certain phases, rights became the fulcrum to guide policy and legal framework, and in other phases, the regulatory impulse of the state was at the center. The neoliberal turn of the 1990s marked a sharp shift in which the state left behind its welfare outlook and adopted a more regulatory structure. The rights-based agenda of the three reforms needs to be understood against the backdrop of the changing nature of the state. The three reforms stand apart from those instituted before and after, in that they were informed by a critique of the rights-based framework even while working within it. The three reforms and their social context provide an example of the tension between rights and biopolitics; the reforms emerged as a response to this tension. While proposing rights-based reforms in school education, the intent was much more ambitious, going beyond the immediate domain of education. Occurring in the middle of a neoliberal, market-driven discourse, these reforms critiqued the 21st-century state and pushed it to serve the role of a provider and not just a regulator.