Beyond Rhetoric: How Context Influences Education Policy Advocates’ Success


  • Sue Winton York University
  • Lauren Jervis York University



Education policy, Neoliberalism, Advocacy, Special education policy


This article discusses findings from a study of a 22-year campaign to change special education assessment policy in Ontario by the advocacy organization People for Education (P4E) and explains how dominant discourses enabled the government to leave the issue unresolved. Based on a rhetorical analysis of 58 documents, the article identifies strategies used by P4E to persuade Ontario’s government and citizens to view students’ uneven access to educational assessments as a problem. Further, since this problem differently impacts children by class and geographical location, it perpetuates inequities. Despite using strategies deemed effective in other change efforts, arguments mobilized by P4E have not been persuasive in a neoliberal context that champions responsibilized individualism, meritocracy, human capital development, and reduced funding of public services.

Author Biography

Sue Winton, York University

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education




How to Cite

Winton, S., & Jervis, L. (2019). Beyond Rhetoric: How Context Influences Education Policy Advocates’ Success. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 14(7).

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