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Locating Responsibility in the Discourse of Contemporary U.S. Education Reform
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFramed by insights from critical human geography, political economy, and educational studies, this dissertation offers a critique of the contemporary education reform movement in the United States (hereafter U.S.). The overarching argument made here is that the powerfully positioned individuals and groups at the head of this movement have been less motivated by a desire to actually pursue social justice than by the political expediency that comes with appearing to be doing so. The three papers that follow speak to the existing critical literature on public schooling in the U.S., which argues that the perpetual discussion about how to 'fix' the U.S.'s educational system should be seen as an attempt by its powerfully positioned interlocutors to collapse popular discontent with a variety of persistent social injustices into a focused dissatisfaction with the public schools. This literature has also argued that although the public education system in the U.S. is indeed quite inequitable as it presently exists, and thus an appropriate target for transformation, the education reform movement's efforts to that end have actually reproduced many of the social and pedagogical causes of educational inequity. This dissertation builds on the literature just summarized by demonstrating that the rhetoric of the individuals and groups associated with the education reform movement coalesces around a spatial discourse through which the causes of a variety of social ills are presented as endogenous to the spaces inhabited by the individuals and groups that suffer them with the greatest frequency and intensity. Further, the artificially discrete, enclosed spaces conjured in the name of education reform are enrolled as part of a broader project of legitimizing coercive, individualizing, and competitive-rather than supportive, dialogic, collaborative-forms of pedagogy, and governance more generally.
Degree ProgramGraduate College