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The New Common Sense of Education: Advocacy Research Versus Academic Authority


by Paul Shaker & Elizabeth Heilman — 2004

Current education policy is increasingly controlled by partisan politicians and the corporate interests that speak through them. Attacking American education and blaming economic troubles on failing schools and low standardized test scores coalesces the rhetoric of the right and draws attention away from fundamental social and economic problems. Add to this political opportunity the economic fact that attacking K-12 education leaves this market of $732 billion vulnerable to development by corporate America. Though such attacks have been with us since A Nation at Risk, an increasingly broad array of cultural and institutional forces are at work creating a new "common sense" of education that maligns or manipulates the corpus of educational research and attacks promising practices and reforms. In addition, a new type of education scholarship has emerged that is delivered in alternative ways, funded through unorthodox sources, motivated by nonacademic purposes, and supported through direct access to media and political organizations, including the federal government. This article examines the details of the new commonsense policy and rhetoric and considers what is being lost and what educators need to do to restore to public education its position of civic and moral leadership in our society.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 7, 2004, p. 1444-1470
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11579, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 10:44:00 PM

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About the Author
  • Paul Shaker
    California State University Fresno
    E-mail Author
    PAUL SHAKER is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University. His research interests include the politics of education, curriculum theory, and teacher education renewal. Recent publications include “Left Back: Punditry or History?” in the Journal of Curriculum Studies, “Three Literacies for Life,” in Educational Leadership, and “Teacher Testing: A Symptom,” in Teaching Education. Shaker is an editor of Teachers and Mentors (Garland), winner of AACTE’s Distinguished Writing Award.
  • Elizabeth Heilman
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH HEILMAN is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her research explores the ways in which policy, belief systems, school contexts, and power structures influence the understanding and teaching of curriculum, particularly as it relates to political and social imagination. Her work has appeared in journals such as Educational Theory, Theory and Research in Social Education, Teaching Education, Youth and Society, and The High School Journal. She is the editor of Harry Potter’s World: Multidisciplinary Critical Perspectives (Routledge).
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