Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy: Politics and the Rhetoric of School Reform

Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy: Politics and the Rhetoric of School Reform

Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy: Politics and the Rhetoric of School Reform

Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy: Politics and the Rhetoric of School Reform

Synopsis

Advancing a three-fold political agenda, this volume:

• illuminates how the meanings assigned to a whole vocabulary of words and phrases frequently used to discuss the role and reform of U. S. public schools reflect an essentially economic view of the world;

• contends that education or educational reform conducted under an economized worldview will only intensify the effects of the colonial relations of political and economic domination that it breeds at home and abroad; and

• offers a set of alternative concepts and meanings for reformulating the role of U. S. public schools and for considering the implications of such a reformulation more generally for the underlying premises of all human relationships and activities.

Toward these ends, the authors, in Part I, critically examine many of the most commonly used terms within the rhetoric of educational reform since the early 1980s and before.

Part II links today's economized worldview to curricular and instructional issues. These essays are especially important for comprehending how the organization of school curriculum privileges those disciplines deemed most central to market expansion--math and science--and how the political centrality of the economic sphere influences the nature of the knowledge presented in specific content areas.

Given that language constrains as well as advances human thought, the twin tasks of de-economizing education and decolonizing society will require a vocabulary that transcends the familiar terminologies addressed in Parts I and II. The entries in Part III cultivate the beginnings of such a vocabulary as the authors elucidate innovative concepts which they view as central to the creation of truly alternative educational visions and practices.

Excerpt

David A. Gabbard East Carolina University

SPREADING THE SECULAR GOSPEL

To challenge the belief that a people's economic development proceeds in direct proportion to their level of educational achievement poses a threat of heresy against one of the most fundamental principles in modern secular theology. Precisely because education and development each implies a process resulting in some form of favorable change, we may properly speak of them as separate values. However, whereas education has a history of conceptual evolution separate from that of development, their evolutionary paths have since merged and congealed into one of the great and sacred certainties of our era. Nowhere, perhaps, has this belief taken stronger hold than in the United States, where the educational reform initiatives of the 1980s and 1990s have now elevated this belief to canonical status.

At least two approaches present themselves for casting doubt on this sacred truism. The first entails an inquiry into the truthfulness of the claim. Since the National Commission on Excellence in Education released "A Nation at Risk" in 1983, corporate elites and elected officials have orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the public that schools are, at once, the cause and the cure for their economic insecurity. In typical fashion, the media very obediently assisted in facilitating this fraud, helping to further entrench the belief that a people's economic development proceeds in direct proportion to their level of educational achievement. Not only has the media helped to spread this secular theology, it has also protected it from any serious public scrutiny by failing to report any of the most elementary facts that would call its presuppositions to question.

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