University of Calgary

No quick fixes in education policy reform, expert says

UToday HomeMarch 15, 2013

By Clayton MacGillivray

Dr. Allan Luke of the Queensland University of Technology is on campus to present his research on education policy reform.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Allan LukeDr. Allan Luke of the Queensland University of Technology is on campus to present his research on education policy reform. Photo courtesy of Dr. Allan LukeThe first step in education policy reform is to stop searching for a magic bullet.

So says Allan Luke of Queensland University of Technology, who believes that privatization and marketisation of schools is not the answer to the problems faced by education systems today.

“What is to be done? Make smart and sustained investments in teacher professionalism via pre-service training and targeted professional development.”

Luke, who will be on campus March 27 to give two presentations, has spent 30 years researching policy reform and is particularly critical of British and American approaches that aim to recast schools as business units.

“This ‘neoliberal’ model at best generates mixed achievement effects and, at worst, collateral effects that increase the equity gap. It also marks out a very dangerous shift in philosophy away from the democratic ideal of a universal, free education to a model of education as a user-pays commodity.”

Luke will offer a critique of current policy in his presentation Everything but the Kitchen Sink: Large-scale, Mixed-method Design and the Making of Educational Policy.

Luke, who grew up in the Chinese-American community in Los Angeles before migrating to Canada, says all of his work centres on social justice for children and communities that have historically experienced educational marginalization.

“My current work is a four year study of Indigenous school reform for the Australian federal government. We’ve amassed the largest data set on Indigenous schooling to date, and it’s probably the most important project I’ve been involved with.”

Luke’s second presentation, White Systems, Deficit Talk and Indigenous School Reform: A Glimmer at the End of the Tunnel, will share the results of this project in respect to improving the educational experience of Indigenous children and communities.

“There are no ‘quick fixes’ to educational problems and issues, but there are places and systems where political will and policy smarts have successfully mobilized schools and teachers to make a difference.”

Luke is research professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, where he teaches literacy education, sociology and policy. He has published 15 books and over 200 articles and chapters in the fields of education, sociology, linguistics, cultural studies. He has received the Educational Press Association of America Merit Award, the Gold Medal of the Australian College of Education and was inducted into the International Reading Association Hall of Fame.

Both talks a free and open to the public. Complete event details can be found at


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