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Critical Examinations of Quality in Early Education and Care

Regulation, Disqualification, and Erasure

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Edited By Gaile S. Cannella, Michelle Salazar Pérez and I-Fang Lee

Quality rating systems discourses and practices are increasingly dominating early childhood care and education around the globe. These rating systems are constructed with the assumption that universally appropriate environments can be constructed for all those who are younger. This deterministic, ratings, and measurement oriented perspective is consistent with neoliberal discourses that privilege competition, accountability, consumer materialism, and notions such as human capital; this contemporary neoliberal condition does not support concern for the common good, democracy, equity, justice, or diversity (unless the support can facilitate new forms of capitalist gains). Ultimately, this is not a positive situation for those who are younger. The chapters in this book have two goals: (1) to provide the reader with an opportunity to engage with some of the specific problems that result from putting forward ‘quality’ as a dominant construct, and (2) to generate conversations and locations from diverse knowledges and multiple ways of being that could lead to the rethinking of quality, understandings of quality as a narrowing construct/practice, and/or going beyond (and outside of) notions of quality.
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Chapter Six: The Dangers of the Neoliberal Imaginary of Quality: The Making of Early Childhood Education and Care as a Service Industry

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CHAPTER SIX

The Dangers OF THE Neoliberal Imaginary OF Quality

The Making of Early Childhood Education and Care as a Service Industry

I-FANG LEE



INTRODUCTION

Discussions on quality in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) are omnipresent in the 21st century. One quick example of how the issue of educational quality has grown to become of importance to all can be seen by using Internet search engines. Using Google type in ‘quality early childhood and care’ as keywords, and you will get more than 72,200,000 results. When I try this same set of keywords in Traditional Chinese, more than 2,040,000 results appear on my computer screen in less than one second. Trying the same set of keywords in two different languages highlights the fact that concern for quality provision in ECEC is widespread regardless of cultural boundaries.

Quality certainly matters. However, discussions about the ways in which the notions of quality should be understood, measured, and classified are often narrowly politicized with a neoliberal political and economic rationality to address the issues of equity and equality for all children across multiple sociocultural and geopolitical locations.

Take the series Starting Strong (OECD, 2001, 2006, 2012) as one example. In the series of international reports on the reviews of the ECEC systems in numerous Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, it has been strongly emphasized that quality...

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