Education Still under Siege

Education Still under Siege

Education Still under Siege

Education Still under Siege

Synopsis

Cultural differences are not asserted through the specificity of dominant notions of race, gender, and class, but through a commitment to expanding dialogue and exchange across cultural lines as part of a wider attempt to deepen and develop democratic public life. This revised edition of the 1985 best-seller speaks eloquently to the need to attend to ever-present inequalities of education in the light of new political correctness, technology, and curricula.

Excerpt

During the twelve years of the Reagan/Bush administrations the educational system in the United States was the object of a massive reform movement, led mainly by conservatives. During these years, the meaning and purpose of schooling at all levels of education were refashioned around the principles of the marketplace and the logic of rampant individualism. Ideologically, this meant abstracting schools from the language of democracy and equity while simultaneously organizing educational reform around the discourse of choice, reprivatization, and individual competition. Consistent with a broader attack on all notions of democratic public life, schools became a prime battleground for removing the language of ethics, history, and community from public discourse. Within this approach, schools became the quintessential institutions of bureaucratic individualism. Under the incentive of school choice, market relations asserted themselves with a vengeance on public schools and higher education. Devastated by the recession, diminished local tax bases, and drastic cutbacks in federal expenditures, school systems around the country were forced to increase class size and decrease teaching staffs, while using fewer resources.

On a policy level, the conservative reform movement of the Reagan/ Bush era resulted in instituting state legislation that increasingly promoted standardized curricula, increased testing for entry-level teachers, and removed equity considerations from the discourse of excellence. Lacking any social strategy for addressing the crisis of public schooling the Reagan/ Bush administrations essentially attempted to dismantle public schooling by turning it over to the imperatives of choice, business, and reprivatization.

Politically, the Reagan/Bush attack on public schools manifested itself in further reproducing a two-tier system of schooling designed to privilege . . .

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