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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