Obama's Vision for Education


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Obama's Vision for Education Using Critical Discourse Analysis to Understand the Ideology Behind the Non-Ideology
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Freeman,Kyle A
University of Florida
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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Golombek, Paula
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Boxer, Diana


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Education reform is an important political topic, and President Obama continues to emphasize it throughout his presidency. But what is the nature of this reform? What purpose does Obama see for public education in the United States? Answering these questions is an important step in understanding the specific policies that constitute his administration?s current push for education reform. To answer these questions, I conduct a critical discourse analysis on three texts that represent President Obama?s vision for public education. The first text is the State of the Union speech he gave in 2011, the second text is a policy proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the third text is a summary of a competitive grant program started in 2009 called Race to the Top. Through careful textual analysis, I attempt to situate the discourse and policies of these documents in the broader context of the philosophy and history of public education. With this data I make claims about the ideologies that inform Obama?s campaign for education reform.
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by Kyle A Freeman.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2011.
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2 2011 Kyle Freeman


3 To all of my teachers


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank my advisor, Paula Golombek, for all of the life the coaching and feedback. I thank my fa mily for supporting me in all my endeavors. I thank my fiance Ximena who stayed up late so many nights out of solidarity, and because this is the only time she will have the title of fiance in an acknowledgments section. I finally thank Diana Boxer for e ncouraging me to do a thesis when it seemed almost impossible.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 9 Political Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 9 Research Qu estion ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 10 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 10 Overview of Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 10 Standpoint of the Researcher ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 11 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 13 Section Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 13 Ideology, Discourse and Critical Theories ................................ ................................ ............. 13 Ideology an d discourse ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 13 History of Critical Discourse Analysis ................................ ................................ ............ 15 Theory and Method in Critical Discourse Analysis ................................ ........................ 16 Critical Education Policy Analysis ................................ ................................ .................. 18 Education Theory an d History ................................ ................................ ................................ 20 The Pedagogic Device ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 20 Control of the Pedagogic Device Through Standardized Testing ................................ ... 21 Overview of the Philosophical Goals of Education ................................ ........................ 22 Manag erial Discourse and Corporate Influence in U.S. Education History .................... 26 Neoliberalism: Ideology or Discourse? ................................ ................................ ........... 29 Tying Together Educational Philosophy and History ................................ ............................ 31 Previous Studies Using Critical Discourse Analysis in Education Research ......................... 32 Conclusion of Literature Review ................................ ................................ ............................ 34 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 37 Choice of Texts ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 37 Tools ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 38 4 CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ .................. 40 State of the Union Addres s ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 40 Interdiscursive Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 41 Discussion of the State of the Union Analysis ................................ ................................ 47


6 Blueprint For Reform ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 49 Interdiscursive Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 50 Discussion of the Blueprint for Reform Analysis ................................ ........................... 55 Race to the Top Executive Summary ................................ ................................ ..................... 57 Interdiscursive Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 58 Discussion of Blueprint for Reform Analysis ................................ ................................ 65 Intertext ual Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 66 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 71 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 73 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 7 7


7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Original model connecting work done by r esearchers in several fields ................................ 36


8 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts UNDERSTAN D THE IDEOLOGY BEHIND THE NON IDEOLOGY By Kyle Freeman August 2011 Chair: Paula Golombek Major: Linguistics Education reform is an important political topic, and President Obama continues to emphasize it throughout his presidency. But what is the natu re of this reform? What purpose does Obama see for public education in the United States? Answering these questions is an push for education reform. To answe r these questions, I conduct a c ritical discourse analysis on of the Union speech he gave in 2011, the second text is a policy proposal for the reauthoriz ation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the third text is a summary of a competitive grant program started in 2009 called Race to the Top. Through careful textual analysis, I attempt to situate the discourse and policies of these documents in the broader context of the philosophy and history of public education. With this data I make claims about the ideologies that inform s campaign for education refor m.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Political Context In November of 2009, people around the world watched in amazement as Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. During his campaign, Obama represented many things to many individuals, but the themes of hope and change resounded throughout. Not simply a referendum on the previous a from the voting population on a variety of issues (Jacoby, 2010). Political analysts and lay people alike shared an excitement to see just how this young, seemingly progressive president would fa re in Washington (Harris and Davidson, 2009). Two years later, Obama and his administration face quite a different political climate. After undergoing a self described shellacking in the 2010 mid term elections and depleted from a vicious battle over hea lth care reform, disillusioned supporters are beginning to wonder what happened to the hope and change that Obama represented (Rowland, 2010). Journalists and differ much from the Republican party line he militated against during his campaign ( Fish, 2011 ; ideological (Au, avid Axelrod professed: I think President Obama is a committed, practicing non by neither tactics nor ideology. He is more concerned about outcomes than he is abo ut process and categorizations. (Harris et. al, 2009: np) While Obam claim that political discourse itself is inherently ideological (Codd 1988, Smith 2004, Taylor 1997). Assuming this to be true, I use textual analysis in an attempt to uncov er the ideologies


10 Research Question vision for education policy? Which discourses are privi leged and which are marginali zed? What ideologies does this order of discourse (Fairclough 2001a) reflect? Finally, how and to what extent do the discourses and related ideologies in the analyzed texts affect public education practice in the United States? Purpose of the Study re the conservative Right has been defining these concepts in hegemonic ways and then using them to attack public education and study and attempt to find out wh the past two years. Overview of Methodology Teun van Dijk (1986: 4) writes that critical science starts from prevailing social problems, and thereby chooses the perspective of those who suffer most, and critically analyses those in power, those who are responsible, and those who have the means and the opportunity to significant role in shaping public K 12 education. Those with the potential to suffer most if the federal government failed to provide quality education policy and funding would be school age children, in addition to parents, teachers and arguably the United States as a whole. Whether and how the federal government should provide for public education are both political topics in the broad and narrow senses and should be open for public debate.


11 I begin with a review of literature drawing from several fields. In the literature review I identif y several conceptual tools that allow for a thorough, situated analysis. To bring these tools together in a coherent framework, I construct a model that demonstrates the connection between various strands of research in critical discourse analysis, critica l education policy analysis and education philosophy. Within this framework, I critically analyze three texts in order to find State of the Union address (SOTU), the Department of E policy proposal (RTT) competi tive grant program The discourses found in each text and the relationships between them constitute the order of discourse or the relative prominence and power each competing discourse has within the text (Fairclough, 2003). I then compare the order of discourse of each document to the others, and in doing so identify consistencies that make up the ove rall order of discourse for the three texts. I situate this order of discourse within a context of critical education policy research and educational philosophy, using the model I constructed showing the relationship between the following concepts: the goa ls of education, political ideologies, discourses found in education policy documents, the policies themselves and how these policies affect practice (Au, 2009b; Bernstein, 1996; Labaree, 1997; Taylor, 2004). After analyzing the texts and context, I make c is not unproblematic. Standpoint of the Researcher Several researchers have chastised critical discourse analysis (CDA) for not upholding the scientific ideal of disint erested investigation by being too ideological (Chilton 2005). Advocates respond that CDA and other critical studies constitute a form of hybrid research/activism that uses established methods to analyze social practice while at the same time taking a norm ative


12 political stance (Luke, 2002; Chouliariki and Fairclough, 1999). Education has many competing purposes, but I argue that the limited purposes promoted in the following texts do not fairly represent the full potential for public education. I do not at tempt to make a distinction between education, because the end result is the same. Many people, including myself, have found t hese results to be insufficie nt.


13 CH APTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Section Overview In the following literature review, I survey the theoretical landscape of critical studies as well as the historical context of education policy in order to situate the findings of the discourse analysis. I first discuss the relationship between ideology, discourse and the fields of critical discourse analysis and critical education policy analysis. I then move to educational theory and describe a mechanism of policy control called the pedagogic device as well as a philosophical framework of goals for public education policy. Following this, I review the effects on education policy of the historical discourse of managerial efficiency and the political discourse of neoliberalism. In an attempt to link all of the disc ussed theory and context in a coherent framework, I construct a model showing the interconnected nature of political, economic and social theory with education history and practice. Finally, I review several applications of critical theory to education res earch. Ideology, Discourse and Critical Theories Ideology and discourse Van Djik (2007) describes a theoretical basis for the concept of ideology that is rooted in both discourse analysis and cognitive science. He proposes that an ideology is a relatively stable system of beliefs that is shared among a group of social actors. Ideology provides a structure for deterministic: not all discourses produced by a social actor are necessarily representative of an ideology that they believe in. Van Dijk uses a cognitive model as one of the mechanisms through which ideology shapes thought and behavior, but also recognizes that sometimes ideology may influence discourse without the intermediary of cognitive processes. For my study, I refer to


14 political and social philosophies as ideologies. Members of the ideology of democracy for example, emphasize the organization of society around everyone being able to voice their opinion, while members of the ideology of meritocracy promote a society in which people are the mechanism through which beliefs about how society should be organized translat e into the production of discourse. Moving to a theory of discourse, Van Dijk delineates the construct of knowledge from the construct of discourse. He defines knowledge as the beliefs and values that are presupposed in a community, while discourse are bel iefs and values that are not presupposed and open to discourse. Gramsci argues that the beliefs and values that are presupposed in a community necessarily promote and maintain the current structure of power and dominance (Burke, 1999). This occurs because those in power rely on hegemonic beliefs about the organization of society in order to remain in a position of power. Hegemonic knowledge is difficult to contest, due to its normalized status as the nature of society. For Van Dijk, the process of turning hegemonic knowledge into discourse that is open to dialogue opens assumed social norms to critical debate in an effort to see whom they truly benefit. This is the f irst step in the process of reshaping society. Gee (1996) describes the difference between the uncountable noun discourse at the grammatical level from multiple, discrete Discourses at the social level. These individual Discourses represent alternative pe rspectives on how relationships between social actors and to ways of representing social action rather than just beliefs about social action. Individual Disco urses can exist in dialogue with each other and be used to contest hegemonic knowledge by


15 recontextualizing it as one possible Discourse. Luke (2002), on the other hand, points out that in the post modern world discourse can be difficult to categorize. Fol lowing Fouc ault, Luke cautions: N ot to privilege or presuppose structure, not to suppose coherence, intention, systematicity. Discourse might be acting arbitrarily, randoml y, and it tends to take on a life of its own, autonomous fro m its historical authors, conditions of production, and so forth. Discourses exist and are reproduced with the help of social actors, but they are not b ound to any one person or text. (2002: 104) For my study, I use the construct of discourses to refer to thematically related text elements that represent particular social actions in a particular way, such as the manner in which neoliberal discourse represents social actions as occurring in a market and a managerial discourse represents social actions in te rms of bureaucracy and efficiency. The uncountable noun discourse however, refers to any set of textual production. History of Critical Discourse Analysis The field of critical discourse analysis (CDA) developed from a desire to uncover power and dominanc e relations in discourse (Wod ak, 2001). Starting in the 1920 s, the Frankfurt school of social inquiry began to approach human behavior as situated cultural practice. By questioning hegemonic assumptions in social science, they recontextualized what had bee n the assumed knowledge of how society worked as one possible discourse, and in doing so opened it to debate and criticism from alternative discourses. The scholarship utilizing this new theoretical lens developed into critical theory. Affecting diverse fi elds of study from sociology to literature, critical theory views culture in a dialogic relationship with society. Culture shapes society at the same time that society shapes and changes culture. Due to the malleable nature of culture, it is a site of stru ggle between those who have control, those who wish to control and those who are controlled (Fairclough, 2001a). Theorists such as Michel Foucault and Herbert Marcuse applied


16 critical theory to Marxist class consciousness in an effort to counter the cultur al production of oppressive regimes in mid 20th century Europe (Locke 2004). Working in the tradition of critical theory, Jrgen Habermas wrote about the concept of the public sphere, in which all social actors should be able to engage in a dialogue of c ompeting discourses in an effort to influence the evolution of culture and society. Without equal power and opportunity to voice their opinions, certain actors would potentially be silenced and cultural hegemony would continue in the collapse of the public sphere In the public sphere, Habermas relations of organized power. In so far as the legit imations of power relations . are not articulated . languag (Wodak 2001: 2). critical theory to the subfield of linguistics called discourse analysis in order to understand the textual representation of po wer inherent in many social problems. This group, working in the tradition of CDA, views text and context as existing in a similar dialogic relationship as culture and society. Text, they argue, has the potential to change context, while context influences and restricts what can happen in text. Each of the original linguists credited with founding CDA, as well as researchers from other fields, have developed unique approaches that emphasize and draw from different traditions in social science. In this sense CDA is not a structured analysis or methodology but rather an approach to discourse analysis that seeks to use the dialogic nature of language to reshape society and identify and redefine power relationships. Theory and Method in Critical Discourse Analy sis Meyer (2001) characterizes CDA as a reflexive process in which theory and dat a mutually in fluence each other If the researcher starts with the discourse itself, as often happens, they would then interpret the text, examine their assumptions and use th at examination to add to


17 existing theory or justify the creation of new theory. Working within the chosen theoretical framework, the researcher then selects concepts, assumptions and models and operationalizes them into tools as is appropriate for the data The tools are then reapplied to the data with potentially different results. If the results are consistently the same then the data can be said to have validity, at least within the chosen theoretical framework. The various approaches to CDA differ at ea ch stage of this process, drawing from diverse theoretical backgrounds and using multiple sets of tools to analyze discourse. Instead of rigidly adopting one framework, Wodak (2001) advises researchers to use a variety of conceptual tools guided by what is appropriate to the specific social pr oblem at hand. Fairclough ( 2001a, 2003) proposes perhaps the most linguistically focused iteration of CDA, arguing that the role of discourse in social practice cannot be assumed and that it must be derived from thorou gh textual potential for meaning and dynamic connection with social pra ctice, as opposed to formalist approaches that focus on rule based gram mar generation (Fairclough, 2001a ). Bakhtin (1986) defines a speech genre as the contextual configuration that produces a certain type of speech event, made up of obligatory elements an d optional elements as well as a typical time, place, function and content. The concept of speech genres allows the comparison of similar texts to identify what might be different and why. This comparison explores intertextuality, or the dialogue between t exts. Fairclough (2003) also places a great deal of importance on the micro level of text, developing tools to analyze grammatical, semantic and lexical relations at the phrasal level. The macro level analysis of genre and intertextuality as well as the mi cro level analysis of text aid the researcher in discovering how genre chains of texts represent social


18 practices. Fairclough (2001a) defines the order of discourse as the pattern in which discourses are privileged or marginalized in a set of texts. Given the assumed dialogic relationship between text and context, the order of discourse in a text can serve as a window into the prevailing social order of the context as well as the context shaping the order of discourse in the text. Luke (2002), Chilton (200 5) and others question whether analyzing the order of discourse truly has the power to change the social order, and if so, what are the necessary conditions for doing so. Luke terms this the logocentric fallacy, which reifies the text and presupposes its l ocal uptake Chouliariki and Fairclough (1999) respond to this type of criticism by promoting transdisciplinarity, in which critical discourse analysts work with other social researchers and activists to transfer academic scholarship into social change. Lu ke, a CDA researcher himself, responds to his own criticisms by suggesting that CDA move beyond the limited analysis of dominant discourses and into the realm of promoting and legitimating marginalized discourses that promote social justice. To answer the question of local uptake of discourse, in a following section I identify other mechanisms through which discourse affects the local practice of ways in which it mandates top down structural changes, narrowly defines success and failure at al levels and links these definitions to the distribution of resources. I look to the field of critical education policy analysis for some of the conceptual tools to analyze how policy controls practice. Critical Education Policy Analysis Education researchers, primarily working in Australia, have looked to critical theory as well to move forward in the analysis of education policy. Critical education policy analysis has its own s eparate body of scholarship, in some ways beginning when Prunty (1985) wrote a short but important article defining a research plan for the field. Prunty argues that education policy


19 legitimizes the beliefs, attitudes and values of its authors and in doing so reinforces their power. If a policy is not contested, the dominant discourses represented in the policy have the potential the sources of domination, repres sion, and exploitation that are entrenched in, and legitimated (1985) cautions that the order of discourse in an education policy cannot necessarily be assumed to affect social practice and this must be demonstrated through the analysis of the mechanisms that translate policy into practice. Codd (1988) sets the stage for the connection between discourse analysis, policy and practice: Because the state has a parti cular interest in promoting public discussion of educational policy, its agencies produce various policy documents which can be said to constitute the official discourse of the state (Codd 1985). Thus, policies produced by and for the state are obvious ins tances in which language serves a political purpose, constructing particular meanings and signs that work to mask social conflict and foster commitment to the notion of a universal public interest. In this way, policy documents produce real social effects through the production and maintenance of consent. These effects, however, remain unrecognized by traditional forms of policy analysis which are derived from an idealist view of language and enshrined within technical empiricist view of policy making. ( 237 ) Taylor (2004) incorporates CDA into critical education policy analysis in order to unmask the social conflict and assumed consent within policy documents. CDA incorporates both the political stance of seeking social justice and equity as well as the tool s for a systematic analysis of the ways policy documents structure power in the order of discourse. While other types of educational policy analysis can also yield beneficial results, CDA provides an approach grounded in the concept of language constructin g and representing the power relations of involved social actors. According to Luke (2002) and others, uncovering the order of discourse is only one part of the puzzle. Critical education policy analysis, then, contains at least two additional tasks: to


20 de monstrate how the policy discourse affects practice, and to provide ways of contesting the which I discuss below, accomplishes the second task, providing the mechani sms through which education policy delimits and controls classroom discourse. The third task, however, is in many ways the most challenging. Policy activists, educational researchers and citizens alike must become aware of hegemonic discourse and alternati ve discourse and then actively work to promote those alternative discourses in the public sphere. Critical education policy analysis should, therefore, strive to be transdisciplinary and accessible in the same way Fairclough (2003) argues that CDA should b e. Education Theory and History The Pedagogic Device Bernstein (1996) describes the pedagogic device as one of the mechanisms through which policy interacts with practice. Following several decades of foundational work in education theory and philosophy, Bernstein points to the pedagogic device as the mechanism through which those with power over schooling are able to control pedagogy and curriculum and therefore the order of discourse in the classroom. The pedagogic device consists of three nested sets of rules: the distributive rules which dictate who can take part in education and the curriculum they can use, the recontextualization rules which transform all other discourses and content into curriculum, and the evaluative rules which define the acceptabl e standards of performance and knowledge in a classroom (Bernstein 1996). Distributive rules set the limits of acceptable discourse by controlling who teaches and what they teach. Any thought outside those limits is hypothesized to be unknowable or at le ast unspeakable within formal schooling. Recontextualization rules operate at the level of textbook and curriculum development by appropriating discourses that exist independently of education, for example history or science,


21 and modifying them for the cla ssroom. For fields in which multiple discourses compete for dominance such as in history, the process of recontextualization privileges certain discourses and marginalizes others. The evaluative rules continue this effect on the level of the individual stu dent through testing and assessment by legitimating certain knowledge as valuable and other knowledge as meaningless. Education policy has the potential to control all of these rules to varying degrees. Control of the Pedagogic Device Through Standardized Testing One example of the way researchers argue that educational policy controls the pedagogic device is through high stakes standardized testing. A high stakes standardized test is a norm referenced test given across a certain student population, often at the federal, state or district level. High stakes means that the results of the test are linked to important outcomes, such as passing a grade, teacher pay or school funding (Au 2009b). Proponents argue that standardized testing is both meritocratic a nd democratic in that it gives everyone an equal opportunity at success and advancement. Citing research linking achievement on standardized tests with socioeconomic status, Au responds with the claim stakes, standardized testing are unequal by design in that they inherently (re)produce [sic] inequalities associated with socioeconomic relations external to education through the selective regulation and distribution of er describes how standardized tests operate at the level of evaluative rules by rewarding institutionally defined knowledge and devaluing all other knowledge. Darder (2005) similarly proposes that the limited knowledge reified by standardized tests margina development, cultural difference and class privilege. Disregarding the empirical question of whether high stakes standardized tests are effec tive measures of knowledge, the fact that communities and st udents do not have any input as to what


22 knowledge is tested makes them inherently undemocratic. High stakes standardized tests are often the final evaluation point that determines the future individual success of students as well as the distribution of fun ds to schools and teachers, therefore the knowledge deemed valuable by the test writers dictates curriculum and pedagogy at all other levels. In this way, education policy that includes high stakes standardized testing gives test writers and policy makers the ability to control classroom learning and to some extent the consciousness of students through the social order, this pedagogic control may in effect reproduce exi sting social stratification under the guise of meritocratic opportunity for all. Overview of the Philosophical Goals of Education In addition to the conceptual and analytical tools of CDA, Wodak (2001) is correct in pointing out the need for historical con text and social theory as well. Wodak criticizes the search for one true social theory and instead advocates the use, within reason, of the social theory that provides the best tools for understanding a particular social problem. The philosophy of educatio n constitutes one broad subset of social theory. Scholars from Plato to Locke and more recently Dewey and Freire have wrestled with questions surrounding the purpose and design of education. Labaree (1997) provides one framework for understanding how these questions influence education policy discourse. He argues that with regards to designing and maintaining a public education system: Goal setting is a political, and not a technical problem. It is resolved through a process of making choices and not throug h a process of scientific investigation. The answer lies in values (what kind of schools do we want) and interests (who supports which educational value s) rather than apolitical logic. (40) Labaree organizes the possible purposes of public education into t hree goals that are both historically and currently in tension with each other. The three goals are democratic equality,


23 and highlight the commonly associate d discourses in order to identify their presence in the analyzed texts. The goal of democratic equality envisions public schooling as an institution that prepares all students for the responsibilities of citizenship, to be capable of engaging in political discourse in order to shape the future of society and social institutions. Horace Mann, one of the founders of common schooling in the 19th century, believed that morality and citizenship based inquiry in schools could preserve public interest in maintai ning a robust democracy while counteracting the growing private self interest he saw resulting from the burgeoning capitalist economy. To fully participate in a diverse public sphere within the goal of democratic equality, students need equal access to a w ide ranging liberal arts education regardless of their social or economic status. Only then can all social actors engage in public dialogue and understanding with the common goal of creating an equal and just society. Thus, the discourses of equal access, social justice, citizenship, democracy and liberal arts promote the overarching goal of democratic equality. The goal of social efficiency envisions education as serving national economic growth. Schools adapt students to a pre existing, stratified job ma rket in order to increase productivity throughout the national economy. The justification for this goal comes from human capital theory, which conceives of social actors as competing for limited resources in a public market. Social actors with more skills and knowledge have more human capital and are thus able to be more productive in the economy. Within the goal of social efficiency, public education is a conditional investment in the human capital of students, with the expected return being increased nati onal productivity and economic growth. Education and its social benefits must be unequally distributed, however, in order to avoid an over skilled workforce. Tracking and vocational


24 schools ensure that students are trained to work in every sector, even tho ugh these sectors do not provide equal compensation or social status. Curriculum and pedagogy must directly relate to future employment and productivity. Further, expenditures that do not contribute to subsequent increases in national productivity are seen as inefficient and unnecessary. This goal is often cited in fiscally conservative political rhetoric due to the fact that a majority of voters and taxpayers in any one election do not have school age children. These voters identify more with the benefits of economic growth and lower expenditures than with the intangible benefits of democratic citizenship and comprehensive learning. The discourses of managerial and financial efficiency, job centered curriculum, inherent economic inequality and national econ omic growth make up the order of discourse of social efficiency. The goal of social mobility accepts the economic stratification of society but rejects a pre existing social hierarchy. Students are seen as consumers who gain social status through competit ive performance and prestigious credentials. Instead of the public investing in human capital for national economic benefit, individuals invest in their own human capital for private gain. Knowledge is only important in that its accumulation has an exchang e value that translates into standard of living, financial security, social power and cultural prestige. Social actors compete for limited credentials and competitive job placement. Learning loses its intrinsic value and instead becomes an instrument to ga in material wealth and social status. Curriculum and pedagogy only matter as much as they create a system of competition that differentiates success from failure. Students whose performance falls within the definition of success are rewarded with prestigio us degrees and economic opportunities while students defined as failures are punished with undesirable jobs and low socioeconomic status. Within the goal of social mobility, because education is essentially a private good to be consumed through competition capitalist


25 theory asserts that schooling should be subject to market forces and private control. The order of discourse of social mobility includes the discourses of competition, consumerism, privatization, market forces and ultimately the discourse of ne oliberalism, which I discuss in a separate section. Both Codd (19 88) and Labaree (1997) find the goal of social mobility to be dominant in current education philosophy. Labaree writes: This approach to establishing a fair structure for educational competit ion takes a meritocratic form in large part because of the dominant place that meritocratic ideology occupies in American life. It is an ideology that captures in idealized form the entrepreneurial traits and values rewarded by a capitalist economy and pro jects them onto social life in general: the capacity and desire to struggle for advantage in a fiercely competitive social hierarchy, where success or failure is determined solely by individual merit. (56) The ideology of meritocracy assumes that individu al merit exists as an apolitical entity. Critical theory problematizes this concept, provoking the questions of who judges individual merit as well as how it is measured. The three goals Labaree describes define individual merit, success, and failure in di fferent ways. For the goal of democratic equality, a successful student can actively draw on a well rounded education to successfully participate in a democratic society in pursuit of social justice and equity. A student that successfully promotes social e fficiency accepts their place within the social hierarchy and learns specific job skills to transition seamlessly into the national economy. The goal of social mobility defines a successful student as one who acts in their own rational self interest by gai ning an advantage over other students while rising to the top of the hierarchy due to their competitive drive and natural talent. Most of the discourses that compete in education policy deliberations can be traced back to these three goals. In the next sec tion I look at the historical factors that have privileged some of these discourses and marginalized others.


26 Managerial Discourse and Corporate Influence in U.S. Education History Labaree (1997) contends that the competition between the three goals he desc ribes underpins the history and current discourse of education policy in the United States. On the other hand, Au (2009b) gives prominence to the historical context in which the discourse of managerial efficiency has shaped education policy since the late 19th century. The discourse began with Frederick Taylor, who helped create and implement the factory model of mass production in manufacturing in the U.S. Taylor emphasized the importance of collecting scientific data that could be used to manage large num bers of workers in an effort to achieve peak efficiency. In response to the influx of massive amounts of students into public education at schools in order to gain efficiency and control over educational objectives. Proponents of industrializing schools reified strict standards and quantitative assessments. They argued that the application of scientific principles to education theory rendered the design of curri culum and pedagogy an apolitical, technical matter to be determined with respect to data based outcomes. In addition to the issue of dealing with a rapidly increasing school population, Au (2009b) describes three additional reasons that the factory model r eceived such rapid implementation: It allowed students to be indoctrinated as docile workers more effectively in a time of labor unrest; Educational policy was strongly influenced by a displaced class of engineers who wanted to solve social problems with industrial techniques; Decentralized school boards at the time were made up mostly of professional men who subscribed to the dominant ideology of technological rationalism. (27 30) More recently, Au notes a rise in the explicit relationship between corpora tions and education policy, both symbolically and financially. Au hypothesizes that the modern iteration of the engineer class is the corporate mid level manager class. Instead of taking cues from industrial


27 engineering, this new class of professionals com bines managerial techniques from business (social efficiency) with the market competition discourse of neoliberalism (social mobility) to redesign public education. Barkan (2010) conducted a study on corporate influence in current education policy debate and discovered that private foundations were one of the main sources of managerial discourse and policies. She found that three private foundations: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Broad Foundation have donated billions of dollars to fund specific education reforms. These foundations run in part on profits from Microsoft, Wal Mart, and the sale of SunAmerica to AIG respectively. Barkan convincingly demonstrates how the policy desires of these three foundations ha ve come to represent the standing policy of the Department of Education, as well as how Gates himself was directly influential in the implementation of Race to the Top and the appointment of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The dominant influence of the se private foundations leads to a lack of public dialogue surrounding education reform. This is problematic as it reveals a partial collapse of the public down approach by describing the s hort time window it gave for public response following the initial publication of the Race to the Top Summary. The Board on Testing and Assessment (Board on Testing and Assessment 2009), in partnership with the National Research Council, attempted to quic kly review the program before the deadline for public comments. Collectively, they penned a report stakes National Assessment of Educational Progress exam and policies that reward or punish teachers ba sed on their students However, the Board on Testing and Assessment was unable to finish the report fast enough and its widely respected criticisms went unheeded.


28 The Gates Foundation also advocates for what are known as school turnaround pol icies. The solution to bad schools, Gates argues, is to shut them down and distribute the students among better performing schools. The independent research group Communities for Excellent Public Schools (C ommunities for Excellent Public Schools 2010) rep orted that school turnaround policies disproportionately targeted schools with high concentrations of poverty and Black and Hispanic minorities. In the report, they argue that the policies marginalize local discourse because they are imposed on communities rather than developed with communities. In addition, the turnaround policies target structural rather than educational change. Instead of supporting the discourse of social justice, the policies take the managerial approach to social efficiency: if a scho Barkan (2010) cites data showing that school turnaround policies are ineffective and actually produce significant community disruption with little benefit. The policies put fo rth by the three influential foundations described by Barkan (2010) align with five common education policies that, according to Ball (1998) have taken root in post modern countries around the world: Strengthening the connection between education, employme nt, productivity and trade. Enhancing student outcomes in employment related skills. Gaining control over curriculum and assessment. Reducing costs to government and to business. Creating more opportunities for direct involvement by consumers and the mar ket in the form of school choice and vouchers. (122) Ball notes that during periods of global economic adversity, the marketization of education and the raising of standards to increase international competitiveness prove to be politically popular justific


29 he nonetheless attempts to identify the major forces behind this discourse of reform (122). One of these forces, neoliberalism and its concomitant discourses of competition and market forces, has been identified as the primary agent of change in education policy and post modern society in general by social science and education researchers alike (Au, 2009b; Ayers, 2005; Bourdieu, 1998; Fairclough, 2001a; Harvey, 2005; Saunders, 2010). Neoliberalism: Ideology or Discourse? Much of the work in CDA and critical education policy analysis has linked distressing trends in so cial inequality with the rise of neoliberalism. While Labaree (1997) offers one nuanced approach to understanding the competing discourses in education policy, the scholarship on neoliberalism cannot be ignored. Education policy is intertwined with the nat ional economy, and neoliberalism has dominated economic theory for several decades. Immediately following the Second World War, a group of economists led by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman sought to reorganize the principles of capitalism. Up until tha t point, capitalism in the U.S. existed as embedded liberalism in which strong regulation and state intervention kept markets in classical economics and market liberalism, which in its ideal for m works roughly as follows. Every individual is viewed as an autonomous rational actor with unlimited personal freedom. The state guarantees national security and limited social services so that individuals can be free to compete for economic resources in an unregulated market (Munck, 2005). If everyone (who is willing to and can work) acts in their own best interest then the market self regulates and produces the maximum benefit for all. Economists argue that neoliberalism takes advantage of Hobbesian self interest to solve social problems as well as economic ones. Personal wellbeing becomes a market commodity (Ayers, 2005).


30 Neoliberalism did not catch on immediately. From the New Deal until Reagan took office, Keynesian embedded liberalism reigned, delive ring a strong welfare state and heavy regulation to curb market inflation. However, in response to the economic down turn of stagflation in the 1970 s, Reagan in the U.S. and Thatcher in the U.K. began to implement a revised version of neoliberalism, dubbed the Washington consensus (Munck, 2005). In contrast to the utopian promote the growth of large financial institutions and personal wealth for a small group of nouveau riche than solve social problems ( Dumnil and Lvy 2005). The period of neolibe ral hegemony from the late 1970 s until the present has seen a marked increase in economic stratification in the United States and around the world (Harvey 2005). Neol iberalism purports criticism of this bad faith pronouncement. Polanyi described two kinds of opposing but interrelated freedoms. The politically popular version of f reedom is the freedom of conscience, among other things. The other kind of freedom is the freedom to exploit other people, the freedom to make enormous profits without benefitting the community, the freedom to privately control the use of helpful technology and the freedom to profit from disasters. In practice, many of the current proponents of neoliberalism do not distinguish between these two types of individual freed om: need no enhancing, and a mere pittance of liberty for the people, who may in vain attemp t to make use of their democratic rights to gain shelter from the p ower of the owners of property. (Polanyi, 1944 as quoted in Harvey, 2005: 37) This conflation of freedoms happens when liberal, meritocratic ideologies inform public policy in the context of a de facto plutocracy. On the surface, everyone has an equal opportunity to


31 succeed. In reality, a small elite control economic and political power and are loath to give it up ( Dumnil and Lvy 2005). Neoliberalism does not constitute an ideology, but rather a discourse meritocracy while denying the very real structural inequalities that are increasingly being imposed on more and more people in this country and around t Tying Together Educational Philosophy and History How does education policy fit into this economic and political context? According to Labaree (1997), the discourse of education policy in the United States revolves around trying to balance the three goals of democratic equality, social efficiency, and social mobility. These goals also implicate economic and social ideologies, which in turn are expressed through competing discourses and influence policymaking. Based on the theoret ical and applied research I previously discussed, I propose the following model to show the relati onshi p between these constructs (Figure 2 1 ). The goal of democratic equality relates to the ideology of socialism, in which everyone deserves an equal share as well as the ideology of democracy, in which everyone deserves an equal voice. The ideologies of conservatism and plutocracy, essentially keeping the status quo of social stratification for stable economic growth, inform the goal of social efficiency. In turn, social mobility promotes the ideologies of liberalism, that society should maximize individual freedom, and meritocracy, which prioritizes rewarding individuals based on their talent and effort. The discourse of neoliberalism occurs at the nexus o f plutocracy and liberalism, connecting to both the goals of social efficiency and social mobility. With neoliberalism being the dominant hegemony socially and economically, and educational policy deriving historically from the discourse of managerial effi ciency, I predict that the goal of democratic equality and the concomitant discourses of social justice, equality, liberal arts and citizenship will likely be


32 marginalized in the currently analyzed education policy ( Au, 2009b; Harvey 2005) Harvey suggest s that: [The] values of individual freedo necessarily compatible. Pursuit of social justice presupposes social solidarities and a willingness to submerge individual wants, needs and desires in the cause of some more general st ruggle for, say, social equality or environmental justice. (Harvey, 2005: 41) The educational goal of social efficiency is compatible with the educational goal of social mobility, insomuch as it trains students to be productive in a stable, yet stratified economy that socioeconomic milieu. For my research, I hypothesize that the goals for public education of democratic equality, social efficiency, and social mobi lity are comprised of a field of competing discourses that draw from the ideologies of democracy and social justice, plutocracy and conservatism and meritocracy and liberalism. Previous Studies Using Critical Discourse Analysis in Education Research Resea rchers ha ve successfully used critical discourse analysis ( CDA ) and related critical inquiry to document and contest many aspects of education discourse and policy. I found that many studies focus on post secondary education. This may be due to the close r elationship of academic researchers to universities or the fact that the increased autonomy of public universities has left them open to market forces in a more direct way than primary or secondary schools. Ayers (2005: 538) found that neoliberal discourse in community college publicity and mission Further, he found that college s restructured their curricula to better accommodate the demands of


33 Saunders (2010) documents a sh ift in public universities towards the explicit corporatization of higher education. Saunders agrees with Au (2009b) that the discourse of business and market principles began to influence education policy as early as the 19th century and cautions against subscribing to an idealistic history of universities servi ng civic duties. Saunders hypothesizes that due to lower public funding, public universities now compete at a disadvantage in a deregulated market of private institutions funded by exorbitant tuitio ns and slick technical schools that provide little more than credentials. This uncompetitive position forces the administration to shift funding to departments that produce revenue, such as engineering and business, and away from the arts and humanities. L abaree (1997) wrote about the post secondary credential market in which the intrinsic value of learning is displaced by the are increasingly focused on personal advancement and financial success corroborate the preeminence of this market. In 1966, 80% of students in one study responded that they wanted to develop a life philosophy in college while only 45% cited financial success as a motivation. The results in a similar study in 1996 were almost the opposite, 42% versus 74%. This may, however, be due in part to an increase in the number of students attending college from a background of low socioeconomic status. Self actualization might not be a top priority for s omeone who has never had financial stability. In a volume titled An Introduction to Critical Discourse Analysis in Education, Woodside ) CDA to understand how a small g roup of professionals in California crafted a consensus around reading policy in K 12 education. She found that new, undebated policies and texts were intertextually linked to established texts in order to presuppose audience acceptance.


34 Policymakers refer enced an assumed set of fundamental skills for reading and implemented them in state policy without providing legitimate theoretical or research justification. Woodside Jiron argues that a few policymakers essentially appropriated the pedagogic device to p rivilege a managerial discourse of discrete skills. Through the analysis of the development and instantiation of one policy, Woodside Jiron traces the chain of power as it is enacted through policy and eventually practice. Cochran Smith and Fries (2001) us e CDA to analyze the competing discourses in the debate over deregulation of teacher education. They find that both sides of the debate employ these strategies warrants in that they refer to justification or reasonable grounds to make a claim. The three warrants they identify are the evidentiary warrant, the political warrant, and the accountability warrant. The evidentiary warrant points to the support of resea rch to render its be ideological and not grounded in fact The accountability warrant mirrors the managerial discourse of education policy based on quantifi able outcomes and results as opposed to theories and inputs. The political warrant promotes the values and ideologies of one perspective while marginalizing the values and ideologies of the other. Assessing the use of these warrants by either side, they co nclude that the proponents of deregulation rely more on attacking strategies rather than substantial claims. This rhetoric has proven to be effective, as policymakers have increasingly pushed for deregulation of teacher education. Conclusion of Literature Review In this section I reviewed the philosophical, economic and historical context that shape the landscape for current education policy debate. I constructed a model that tied together the relationship between philosophical goals for education, politic al and economic ideologies,


35 competing discourses, common education policies and the mechanism through which these policies affect practice in schools and districts. I discussed the significant influence that two of the discourses, managerial efficiency and neoliberalism, have had in the development of schools and education policy. Following this contextualization, I surveyed several applications of CDA to education discourse to situate my thesis within current research. Obama and his Department of Educatio n occupy a powerful position in the education policy debate. As Codd (1988) wrote, government policy constitutes the official discourse of the state. The state, in turn, controls billions of tax dollars used to fund public education. To track, therefore, t he effect of this federal money requires a thorough understanding of the discourse of statements and policy proposals regarding education during his campaign and the beginni ng of his presidency. Au found a confusing mix of neoliberal and democratic rhetoric but was unable to discern a clear vision for change. Obama criticizes the educational legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush and No Child Left Behind, but Au points out that Obama publicly targets the most unpopular policies but is silent on many other controversial ones, such as a reliance on high stakes standardized testing and teacher performance pay. Au expresses guarded hope that Obama is actually maneuvering politi cally to pass other more substantial progressive legislation with bipartisan support, but does not put much faith in this viewpoint. In this thesis I examine for sig nificant change has been realized: T he key issue will revolve around two sides of the same accountability coin: how will achievement be measured, and how will failure be defined? But, in answering this question, can Obama give up the tests, the businesslik e accountability, and th e commitment to school choice, competition human capital, and merit pay? (p.317)


36 The answer to the above questions, I believe, is found within the answers to the proposed research questions regarding the order of discourse in Obama the next section I operationalize the tools used to uncover the order of discourse. Figure 2 1 Original model connecting work done by researchers in several fields (Au, 2009b; Ball, 1998; Bernstein 1996; Labaree, 1 997; Van Dijk, 2007)


37 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Choice of Texts education are: ate of the Union (SOTU) address ( Office of the Press Secreta ry, 2011); The Department of E (U.S. Department of Education, 2010); (RTT) Executive Summary (U.S. Department of Education, 2009) Sauer (1997) correctly points out that in the mod ern, media saturated political system, all texts released by a political party can be assumed to represent the party line. Each of the analyzed I refer to auth the Department of Education and a number of other agents. All of these authors represent the administration in power, which in the bicameral political system is also the leadershi p of the Democratic party. The SOTU was televised on January 25th, 2011 at 9 P.M. Eastern Standard time by public and private news television stations. The White House published a transcription of the address online at their website WhiteHouse.gov (Office of the Press Secretary, 2011). Keeping in mind Ochs (1979) notion of transcription as theory, I decided not to transcribe the speech myself; for analyzing t he semantic content of the speech. For analysis along rhetorical dimensions such as speech style and pragmatic emphasis a more in depth transcription would prove useful, main arguments (Sauer, 1997; Van Dijk; 200 1 ).


38 The Blueprint and the RTT Summary exist as downloadable documents on the Department November 2009. Both documents are publicly available and are representative of t most immediate access to information about the programs. Whereas Race to the Top has been enacted as substantive policy, the Blueprint is a description of the policy changes desired by the administration in the current reauthorization of the El ementary and Secondary Education Act. The precise policies enacted in the current budget will need to be analyzed by policy experts after it is passed. Tools present study. Following Wodak (2001) and Luke (2002), I do not rigidly analyze each text according to a set of criteria but rather attempt to apply the most relevant categories where emplified in Taylor (2004) and Woodside Jiron (2004). The interdiscursive analysis looks at the linguistic elements of each text and then attempts to connect what is found linguistically to what is known about the competing discourses present in the wider discourse of education policy. I reference thematically relevant samples from each text in an attempt to balance fair representation with a concise, coherent narrative. The intertextual analysis compares the three documents to find whether they present a u nified order of discourse or if not, to find what is the nature of the discursive shift. The data is categorized within the prev io usly described model (Figure 2 1 ) that shows the connections between educational goals and ideologies, competing discourses, policies and how those policies affect actual classroom practice and discourse. I constructed the model to show that certain policies and discourses within the policies are necessarily related to economic


39 ideologies and philosophical goals for education. I n a policy, when certain discourses are privileged and others marginalized, policymakers reveal the ways in which they believe education should serve society and the individual. These beliefs, represented in the model as goals of education, fit within cert ain ideologies about how the government should interact with economy and society. Consequently, the goals, ideologies, discourses and policies themselves shape the experience of school age children, teachers, parents, administrators and legislators. My the sis explores data at the discursive level in order to make claims about the goals Obama has for federally funded education. The connection I make between certain goals, ideologies, discourses and policies is an a priori theoretical assumption while the ord education policy is based on empirical evidence from discourse analysis. Thus, while the policies Obama promotes for education may (or may not) indeed be effective, the results from this thesis identify the goals Obama has fo r pu blic education in society.


40 CHAPTER 4 CRITICAL DISCOURSE A NALYSIS In this section I use tools f nalysis (CDA) to interdis cursive of each document and then summarize the findings, which make up the order of discourse for the individual text. I then survey the findings from all three documents through education policy. State of the Union Address The State of the Union address (Office of the Press Secretary, 2011) makes up part of a chain of social events in which the President of the United States proposes and promotes a set of policy initiatives that w may or may not come to fruition, but they represent a united front for the administration (Sauer, 1997). While the President is the social actor delivering the text, a head speechwrite r attempts to incorporate the policy plans of all of the departments in the administration while constructing a coherent speech (Shapiro, 2011). Key talking points are given in advance to certain media outlets, which then distribute the points to the publi c in anticipation of the address (Bull, 2011). The White House carefully scripts the speech and immediately uploads a transcribed text to the official web site, WhiteHouse.gov (Office of the Press Secretary, 2011). A multitude of media outlets, including t he White House itself, engage in instantaneous interpretation via blogging and social networking (Gaudin 2011). Given the media hyper attention and the multi dimensional nature of authorship and interpretation, the SOTU can be construed as a hybrid of the political speech genre and the promotional genre (Sauer 1997). Fairclough (2001a) describes the technologization of discourse in political text, in which authors utilize sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic training to carefully design texts in order to promote certain discourses and


41 justify policy decisions to the voting public. Rhetoric has always carried with it motivations of influence and persuasion, but the micro linguistic preparation of speeches marks a new era in the level of sophistication with which texts are planned. Interdiscursive Analysis In the 2011 SOTU, Obama constructs a narrative of the United States as a nation in decline. O ne solution he proposes is education reform. A survey of the rhetorical context is necessary to situate the disc ourse of education withi n the larger order of discourse. All of the following extracts are from the 2011 State of the Union address (Office of the Press Secretary, 2011). Extract 1 Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a g ood always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your paycheck and go the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company. (Lines 67 72) in the past, although the history of marginalized populations that experienced a different employment context is not mentioned. He references an idealized story of industri alization before globalization. He describes it as n was ence without global competition while implicitly framing globalization negatively. Then, he assumes a modalized if/then clause relationship that references the discourse of meri tocracy. The necessary condi tion is hard work while the result is lifetime employment, financial gain and social mobility. In this extract, the United States used to be a place in which life was simple and hard work was rewarded, which constructs an implie d difference from the current situation. Logically, the


42 current situation might be a world in which hard work is not rewarded. In the following extract Obama describes the world today, which is a much harsher world. Extract 2 That world has changed. And f in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on their paychecks dwindle or their jobs d isappear proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game. technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel m ills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever (Lines 74 84) Obama proclaims that the pre globalization w orld of factory jobs for life and hard work being implying that it is the natural evolution of society. Obama juxtaposes the world pre post th the following semantic pairs of sensory experiences he has seen or heard: globalization competition as fair while the new, global competition is unfair. Obama identifies the first agent in bringing about this new, unfair needing less workers because of technology, but does n ot mention the human agents who chose to replace jobs with technologies in order to cut labor costs (Aronowitz 2001). The second Obama set s globalization up as the root problem: that life used to be fair at some point when


43 next extract he offers the logical solution to any difficult competition which is to beat all of the other competitors. Extract 3 industries of our time. We need to out innovate, out educate, and out build the rest of the world. (Applause.) We have t o make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit and reform our e get there. (Lines 114 119, parentheses in original) Obama utilizes the discourse of change and global competition while assuming a consensus for presupposes ag reement with regards to: needing to compete and win globally, taking responsibility for the government and deficit, and knowing how to do so. Here, we see the ti sum global marketplace, necessitating a field of winners and losers and impl ying that all out competition is the only strategy and definition for success. This vocabulary fits into the discourse of resource that not everyone can have. In th is view, any self interested rational actor, such as the United States, would attempt to accumulate as much of that resource as possible before other countries depleted it. Obama subscribes to this worldview, and in the following extract provides some of t he key elements to ensuring that the U.S. is able to monopolize the resource of future success.


44 Extract 4 success. But if we want to win the future if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas then we also have to win the race to educate our kids. (Lines 187 189) assumes that such a race exi the agent responsible for producing jobs, as opposed to the more traditional job providers of private enterprise or government. The agency of innovation as job producer is found throu ghout jobs both in America and overseas. It is not apparent race in which all children around the world receive education. To justify the charge to win the education race, in the next extract Obama describes some ways that the U.S. is losing the race. Extract 5 The quali ty of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us as citizens, and as parents are necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. (Lines 193 197) ng the global race for education. By explicitly referring to these two dimensions of education, he implies that math and science are the only academic subjects that are important in winning this


45 fined here and indeed unquantifiable, which is problematic for the managerial discourse that reifies the value of data and outcomes. Internationally benchmarked standardized test scores are quantifiable, however, and Barkan (2010) argues that these scores are responsible for the rhetoric of the U.S. falling behind in math and science Obama fills the need for indexical status with the next statistic the extract the ways in which he has defined success so far, winning limited resources so that global competitors lose economic opportunities, the discourse fits more into the neo liberal paradigm failing schools as another way in which the U.S. is losing and therefore needs solutions. Extract 6 When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and called Race to the Top. To all 50 states, we sai innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achieve (Lines 206 211, quotations in original) lled taposes the negative as plans that promote zero sum


46 1 related to the compete in order to win a prize from the federal government. However, due to its nature as a competition, some the previous extracts. Extract 7 If we take these steps if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take we will reach the goal that I set two ye ars ago: By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. (Applause.) (Lines 264 268, parentheses in original) Obama brings the segment on education to a close with a much less substantial c laim then he college graduates in the world. The first assumption is that those two conditions will lead to that result, and the second assumption is that the goal of winning the global competition for proportion of college graduates is a worthy one. As previously mentioned, this goal is misplaced due to the fact that t here may be fewer jobs requiring college degrees in the U.S. than people with college degrees (Aronowitz 2001). Obama pays service to the discourses of equal this refers only to children in the U.S. and explicitly not children in other countries. 1 refers to an NFL player winning a lucrative contract. Several game shows in the U.S. and around the world have used the phrase as a namesake. (IMDB 2011)


47 Discussion of the State of the Union Analysis The speech overall privileges discourses of global and local competition, neoliberalism, national economic interests and inn ovation through math and science education while effectively marginalizing discourses of equal opportunity for education around the world, liberal arts education and democratic or social justice ends. Obama uses the strategy of presenting problems and then way of justification. He begins with the issue of economic insecurity and then presents one of the with regards to education, employment and innovation fits within the goals of both social efficiency and social mobility, in the sense that the nation as a whole is benefitting by competing in a global race for prosperity. Obama does not refer to education explicitly as an investment, but l language of competition. Assuming winning the future translates into economic growth, the question of who benefits is paramount in discovering the ideology behind the discourse. The first, obvious losers are the other competitors in the race, alternately elsewhere specifically China and India. Only residents of the United States constitute the set of potential winners. If the entire population of the U.S. gains equally from increased national prosperity, then it can be argued that this view of education serves the public goal of social democracy and comes from an ideology of democracy in which the public sphere is kept vigorous through a healthy economy. If, however, the gains benefit mostly the rich and powerful as Dumnil and Lv y (2005) argue usually happens, education here serves the goal of social efficiency from an ideology of plutocracy. In this ideology, education benefits the entire public,


48 but it benefits them unequally. Those who control financial institutions and corpora tions benefit proportionally more from national economic prosperity. The second, related problem Obama presents is the demise of American economic and educational competitiveness due to globalization. The new material conditions of massive job exportation and the resulting increase in underemployment motivate very real worries 2 about global economic competition in the voting public (Aronowitz, 2001). Obama neglects to mention the neoliberal policies that have created the conditions for this to happen and a re taken for granted by government economists (Harvey 2005). He again offers education reform as one of the solutions. Thus, education serves superficially to bolster international ranking in standardized achievement and provide high skilled labor to techn ology industry, but is powerless to stem the tide of manufacturing jobs from the U.S. to countries with fewer labor restrictions and poor working conditions. Harvey (2005) argues that competition for international rankings serves a specific purpose: T he ne oliberal state needs nationalism of a certain sort to survive. Forced to operate as a competitive agent in the world market and seeking to establish the best possible business climate, it mobilizes nationalism in its effort to succeed. Competition produces ephemeral winners and losers in the global struggle for position, and this in itself can be a source of national p ride or national soul searching. (85) Obama implores the nation to engage in soul searching in Extract 5, citing statistics showing decline i n educational superiority and asking whether the citizens of the U.S. are willing to do what it takes to rectify the situation. He ends with the incentive of national pride, that if all of the proposed education reforms are followed then the U.S. will once again lead the world in percentage of youth with a college degree. Obama attacks the discourse of neoliberalism, 2 Aronowitz (2001) also argues that in post industrial countries technology has become a proxy for labor in order to reduce costs and reference to the steel mill that matches the productivity of 1000 employees with only 100.


49 blaming both globalization and technology for economic demise. Yet he upholds global and local market competition and an exclusive focus on sc ience and technology education as the solutions Further, only those who a re able to complete higher education and obtain jobs in the technology sector are rewarded with respect and financial gain. Elsewhere in the SOTU, Obama implies that this is the idea America was founded upon. The education policies he promotes in the SOTU fit within this ideology, that of unregulated meritocracy. Only the states, districts and schools that money. Again, everyone else loses. Obama does not delve int o the specifics of education reform in the speech, but rather paints the broad strokes of education as a tool for the nation to win in the global marketplace. The prominence of the discourses of global competition and science and technology innovation not only marginalizes the discourses of education for social justice or democracy, but may be mutually exclusive with the foundation of public education that provides opportunities for success for all people. This contradiction is exemplified next in the order of discourse of the Blueprint for Reform. Blueprint For Reform they would like Congress to pass. It is not a technical policy document, but rather a promotional document with stylized graphic headings and photos of children and teachers throughout. It is, however, the most publicly accessible reference the education policy goal s of the current DOE. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson


50 2005). Throughout its history, the ESEA federal funds h ave been used to influence state and local education policy, especially in poorer areas that need the money most. The ESEA was initially intended to rectify financial imbalances between districts with varying tax bases in order to ensure that children in p oorer areas received comparable education to their richer neighbors. Johnson also wielded it as a financial incentive to encourage Southern states to desegregate public schools. However, presidents since the inception of ESEA have viewed it as an opportuni ty to implement specific goals and standards for education, most recently with George policymaker who worked on the 1994 ESEA reauthorization is quoted by Hanna (2005 : np) as there's a level of prescription with respect to implementation that we would have been soundly vision for the reformulation of NCLB back into ESEA. Interdiscursive Analysis The authors of the document support education for the purposes of democratic equality, social efficiency and social mobility. However, Prunty (1985) distinguishes between procedural policy and substantive policy. Procedural policy recognizes the importance of certain discourses but does not necessarily require implementation or institutional support for them. Substantive policy encodes ac tion, either through enforced requirements or financial support. The Blueprint does not support all of the goals equally. The Blueprint references discourses related to the goal of democratic equality, but references are often procedural as opposed to subs tantive. The following extracts demonstrate discourses of social justice, democracy and liberal arts. All of the following extracts are cited with page numbers from the Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).


51 A world class education is a moral imperative the key to securing a mor e equal, fair and just society. ( 1) Students need a well rounded education to contribut e as citizens in our democracy. ( 4) O ur proposal will provide competitive grants to states, high need districts, and nonprof it partners to strengthen the teaching and learning of arts, foreign languages, history and civics, financial literacy, environmental education, and other subjects. ( 28) The Blueprint makes several claims here about education serving the goal of democratic he liberal arts, history and civics. environmental education and oth democracy, equal opportunity and social justice in other sections as well, making statements about the inc lusion of students of all types and promoting community involvement. We must recognize the importance of communities and families in supporting their working in partnership to deliver services and supports that address the f ull range of student needs. ( 1) Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career, regardless of their income, race, ethnic or language backgr ound, or disability status. ( 3) The Blueprint explicitly recognizes traditionally marginalized groups of students and includes them in the benefits of the ESEA. In these extracts several suggestions are made with varying strongly emphasizes the democratic involvement of communities and families, but the verb


52 but does not define what those needs are. Later in the same section, the Blueprint defines its igher education and employment replace the discourses of social justice, democracy and liberal arts. This makes s leading in global college graduation. T hat by 2020, the United States will once again lead t he world in colle ge completion. (1) Obama mentions this goal in the State of the Union address as well, privileging it as the capstone of his section on education. The Blueprint includes the goal of career readiness as well, and these two goals underpin everything from cu rriculum and assessments to the preferential awarding of grant money. Unlike the discourses of social justice and democracy, the Blueprint encodes these discourses with specific methods of implement ation and financial support. Two of the requirements to en sure colle ge and career readiness are : S tates must have data systems in place to gather information that is critical to determining how schools and districts are progressing in preparing students to graduate from high school college and career ready. St ates and districts will collect and make public data relating to student academic achievement and growth in English language arts and mathematics, student academic achievement in science, and if states choose, student academic achievement and growth in o th er subjects, such as history. ( 9 10) States will be required to develop comprehensive, evidence based plans and to align federal, state, and local funds to provide high quality ST EM instruction. ( 26) The Blueprint makes the collection of data a substantiv e policy, requiring it with the strong supporting the specific goals of college and career readiness as well as English, math and science, the Blueprint privil


53 ption, democracy or community involvement. By not requiring attention a nd resources for these other purposes, the Blueprint marginalizes these alternative discourses and makes its goals particularly clear. The distinction can be seen further in a provision for bilingual programs. Grantees may provide dual language programs, t ransitional bilingual education, sheltered English immersion, newcomer programs for l ate entrant English Learners. ( 20) The inclusion of support for English learners is procedural rather than substantial, as shown by requirements for college and career readiness and STEM instruction, bilingual education is won competitive gr ants can provide bilingual programs, but that bilingual programs do not its priorities by linking certain policies with competitive grant money while not linki ng others. Priority will be given to states that have adopted common, state developed, colle ge and career ready standards. ( 2) Our proposal will make available significant grants to help states, districts, and schools implement the rigorous interventions performing Challenge schools under the College and Car eer Ready Students program. ( 12) The Blueprint privileges the discourses of core subjects, assessments, accountability, standards, data collection, school turnaround and competition by giving programs with these policies preferential grant status. States, local education agencies and teachers exist without significant agency in this competitive grant program, which is essentially a system of carrots and sticks that


54 ensure s compliance with federal policy while encouraging competition for scarce resources between individual actors. States will award the remainder of funds competitively to districts or partnerships of districts and nonprofit organizations to implement one of the following intervention models. ( 12) Districts that have put in place the required evaluation systems may gene rally spend funds flexibly. ( 15) Our proposal will continue competitive grants for states and school districts that are willing to implement am bitious reforms. ( 16) Most districts will also be allowed to spend more ESEA program funds flexibly, as long as they continue to comply with the conditions associated with those funds and are improving student outcomes. ( 40) In the above extracts, the Blue print utilizes qualifiers and restrictive clauses to encode the discourse of hierarchical dominance and competition. In the first extract, states do not choose urther characterized the dichotomy of receiving continued support. This implies that states that are unwilling will not be supported by federal funds. In the fo urth extract, the Blueprint utilizes the paternal discourse of permission and offers the same false choice as a strict parent: either the state can unquestioningly agree with the substantive policies or face punishment and sanctions.


55 Discussion of the Blueprint for Reform Analysis The Blueprint does the most out of the three text s to balance the competing goals and discourses of education policy. The authors reference the discourses of social justice, equality and citizenship in several sections, explicitly including disenfranchised parties such as immigrants and people with disab ilities. However, these discourses are for the most part what Prunty (1985) called procedural policy, in that they are simply proclamations of intent rather than action. The actual substantive policies in the Blueprint ar e related to the discourses of coll ege and career readiness, data systems, accountability, and STEM instruction similar to the policies Ball (1998) and Au (2009b) observed as resulting from the discourses of managerial heir own policies receive the that do not include these reforms are punished either by not receiving federal funds or losing the privilege of deciding how those fu nds are spent. While the intention of the ESEA initially was to ensure equity in the provision of education, this equity is threatened by the creation of a competitive system in which states compete over scarce resources. The ideology that competition cre ates success and innovation is distinctly meritocratic. In this ideology, the most successful rise to the top, are rewarded, and become examples for all who did not measure up. However, as Labaree (1997) and others point out, the ideology of meritocracy is in some ways mutually exclusive with the ideology of social equality. Thus, while Obama and the authors of the ESEA consistently reference the discourses of social justice and equal opportunity, the distribution of limited funds through competitive grants contradicts those intentions by ensuring will benefit (U.S Department of Education, 2010 : 7)


56 The other persistent theme in the Blueprint is college and c areer readiness. The Blueprint First, privileging these two goals over all others marginalizes discourse of education for the purposes of democracy, social j ustice or equal opportunity. Second, as Aronowitz (2001) argues, the number of careers that require a college degree is much smaller than the population of working age adults. Obama inadvertently admits this in the SOTU address when he cites the statistic ce of the Press Secretary, 2011: np college degree, than more than half will not require a college deg ree. Due to the increase in technology replacing workers and the exportation of manufacturing to countries with cheaper labor costs, a majority of these new jobs will be in the unskilled service industry, such as fast food or retail (Aronowitz, 2001). The promotion of college and career readiness for every student without employment opportunities to match leads to what Labaree (1997) calls credential inflation. When students compete for limited placement at the top of the social hierarchy, the value of a c ollege degree goes down and is rep laced by m of employment. The Blueprint states: tem is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Every student should have meaningful opportunities to choose from up on graduation from high school. ( 8) These pronouncements should not be conflated. While the ESE A at least has the potential to fulfill the first goal, no education policy is capable of creating substantial amounts of fulfilling employment. Ironically, many researchers argue that the same neoliberal discourse of competition and efficiency that the ES EA utilizes to distribute funds and enforce reform efforts is responsible for the loss of meaningful employment in the United States (Aronowitz, 2001; Au


57 2009b; Ball 1998; Dumnil and Lvy 2005; Fairclough 2001a, Labaree, 1997; Saunders, 2010; Weiner 2007 ). The final document analyzed is from a subprogram of the Blueprint called Race to the Top, a competitive grant program that encodes the underlying reward/punishment system of the Blueprint. Race to the Top Executive Summary While the Blueprint describes the intended design for the reauthorization of the ESEA, Race to the Top (RTT) is a subprogram of the Blueprint and was enacted as law in 2009. According to Obama in the 2011 State of the Union address (Office of the Press Secretary, 2011), the RTT compet itive grant program accounts for about 1% of the federal education budget. However, it affects a larger percentage of the budget by restructuring the distribution of federal funds in the form of competitive grants. The RTT Executive Summary (RTT Summary) i s a short document that outlines the criteria to apply for and potentially win competitive grants. The RTT Summary is not the grant application itself, but is the first representative document ce of the Press Secretary, 2011: np ). According to Obama writing in the RTT Summary RTT works by motiva ting states to implement federal education reforms with the hope of receiving money, even though not all states that apply actually receive grants: Race to the Top will reward States that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement and have th e best plans to accelerate their reforms in the future. These States will offer models for others to follow and will spread the best reform ideas across their States, and across the country. ( U.S. Department of Education, 2009: 2) RTT is substantive policy in that it regulates the flow of federal money to states and school districts. The RTT Summary contains four main sections: the Background and Overview, Priorities, Selection Criteria and Definitions. In the Background and Overview, the RTT explains


5 8 the n competition, states must develop applications that demonstrate the reforms that they have already implemented and plan to implement in the future. The Overview lays out a tableau of possible Priorities section gives minimum eligibility requirements for entry into the competition and then describes six overarching policy goals that significantly influence the awarding of grants. Following this, the Selection Criteria section explains in more detail each of the possible policy changes mentioned in the Overview and what must be done to receive the maximum amount of points. The fin al section takes the form of an appendix that defines many of the terms used throughout the rest of the document. The structure of the program itself positions states in a competition for limited resources which, in order to win, they must adopt the disco urse and policy of the Department of Education (DOE). This conceives of federal education funding as a neoliberal market in which states that act in their own rational self interest are rewarded while states who neglect the market are punished. It is not, however, a truly free market because the DOE artificially determines what constitutes success and what constitutes failure. I address these determinations in the following analysis. Interdiscursive Analysis The appendix of definitions is the final section of the RTT Summary, but the definitions it provides texture the rest of the document. The RTT Summary is a legally binding policy document and in the legal policy genre, the semantic content of individual words is often represented by specific definitions of particular social actors, programs and commonly referred to concepts. In the RTT Summary, these definitions are powerful because they take words with broad semantic interpretations and assign a pre determined semantic restriction based solely on


59 the per spective of the authors. This has the effect of assuming a consensus when in reality the the definition, as opposed to a more restrictive equivalence such as RTT Summary uses its privileged status to redefine general terms such as student achievement and student growth. All of the following extracts are cited form the Race to the Top Executive Summary (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Student Achievement means (a) assessments under the ESEA; and, as appropriate, (2) other measures of student learning, such as those described in paragraph (b) of this definiti on, provided they are rigorous and compatible across classrooms. (b) For non tested grades and subjects; alternative measures of student learning and performance such as student scores on pre tests and end of course tests; student performance on English la nguage proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and co mpatible across 14) could potentially include discou rses of achievement in community involvement or achievement conspicuously undefined in the RTT Summary, and the meaning of these terms is left up for future interpretation. Since the Department of Education reviews all appl ication material, they have the power to define these terms without dialogue or input from interested parties, silencing alternative discourse. The definition of student growth is similarly limited to standardized test scores by means of its reliance on s tudent achievement:


60 Student growth means the change in student achievement (as defined in this notice) for an individual student between two or more points in time. A State may also include other measures that are rigorous and co mparable across classrooms. ( 14) This definition marginalizes the discourse of all other conceivable types of student growth, for example growth in maturity, growth in responsibility to the community, and growth in intellectual curiosity. These two definitions create a ripple effect in the order of discourse and semantics of the rest of the document, as many other definitions and policies rely on these two definitions: student growth (as defined in this noti significant part, by student growt h (as defined in this notice). ( 12) Effective principal means a principal whose students achieve acceptable rates of student growth (a s defined in this notice). ( 12) High qual (as defined in this notice) and student grow th (as defined in this notice). ( 13) Thus, the incredibly complex and contested concepts of what constitutes an effective teacher, an effective principal and a high quality assessment are semantically reduced to the change in standardized test scores over time. While this silences the discourses of education for personal gr owth, liberal arts, democracy or social justice, it is an efficient way to gather data and manage a large federal program for maximum efficiency. These and other definitions delimit the potential for dialogue in the rest of the document, as they pre emptiv ely assume the nature of desired outcomes for students. Other commonly used terms are not defined, however. T f our education reform areas. ( 4) T high quality plan ( 4)


61 not defined or explained reserves the powe r to define them for the Secretary of Education and the interpretation. A p quality restrict the discourse of acceptable applications. A participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) seek to create the conditions for reform and innovation as well as the conditions for learning by providing schools w ith flexibility and autonomy. ( 5) reform and innovation as well as the specific set of reforms proposed by RTT. Through this language, the RTT Summary construes of these are empirical questions. The RTT Summary restrictive clauses in order to construe its own proposed reforms as successful and effective. In th e following extract, the RTT Summary supports: I nvestments in innovative strategies that are most likely to lead to improved results for students, long term gains in school and school system capacity, and increased productivity and effectiveness. ( 2) Desig n and implement rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation systems for teach ers and principals that (a) take into account data on student growth (as defined in this notice) as a significant factor. ( 9) ed in terms of leading to these four outcomes. In the second extract, the


62 RTT Summary presumes a consensus that this type of Summary adopts language with subjective semantics and then The first reform is shown in the extract below. 1. Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in a global economy. ( 2 numbering in original ) and a assessments exists and can accomplish those goals. The other implicit assum ption is that this is an exhaustive list of ways in which students can succeed in the world. The second core reform 2. Building data systems that measure st udent growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how t hey can improve instruction. ( 2 numbering in original ) Summary. I and holistic assessments and must refer to test scores as well. The second restrictive clause assumes that these particular data systems are indeed capable of helping tea chers and principals improve instruction. The last two reforms include semantically restricted terms but that are


63 according to the given definitions relates to i tests. 3. Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially whe re they are needed most. ( 2 numbering in original ) 4. Turning around ou r lowest achieving schools. ( 2 numbering in original ) correction must be made, and then traveling bac k to a known location to begin the journey again the RTT Summayry is specifically defined, however, with four models that involve firing various percentages of teachers and administrators or closing In addition to constructing power through explicitly and implicitly assigning semantics to broad concepts, the RTT Summary represents various social ac tors within a power hierarchy enforced through grant distribution. The RTT Summary positions Arne Duncan as the most powerful figure in this vertical hierarchy by giving him the final review of each application. Each of five priorities begins with the foll owing phrase, conjuring imagery of a paternalistic secretary that does not consult involved parties to make decisions. The Secretary is particularly interested i n applications. (4 5) cies in order to apply for federal grants. In contrast, Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) hold positions of relatively Participating LEAs means LEAs that choose to work with the State to implement all or significant portions of the State ( 15)


64 The Summary represents LEAs in the dichotomy of willing or unwilling participants. LEAs that eive a portion of the federal grant if the state wins. In the following extracts the LEAs exist in various grammatical formations that reduce their agency. The State must demonstrate in its application sufficient LEA participation and commitment to succes sfully implement and achieve the goals in its plans ( 4) A nd it must describe how the State, in collaboration w ith its participating LEAs. ( 4) 6) In the first extract, the state i s responsible for the app sufficient and sufficient is not defined. In the second and third extracts, states are fronted as the l ead agent mplement the required federal reforms the managerial discourse of contracts is involved as shown in the following extracts. Terms and conditions that reflect strong commitment by the participating LEAs. ( 6) Scope of work descriptions that require participa ting LEAs (as defined in this ( 7) the managerial discourse of accountability ensures that they have only themselves to blame. The Summary makes no mention of federal or state responsibility for the efficacy of policies, only Supporting participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) in successfully implementing the education reform plans the State has propos ed though such holding participating LEAs (as defined in this notice) accountable for progress and performance, and intervening when necessary. ( 6)


65 The ext that constructs power throughout the RTT Summary. Discussion of Blueprint for Re form Analysis The Race to the Top Executive Summary (U.S. Department of Education, 2009) promotes the managerial efficiency discourse with an emphasis on standardized tests and data collection and the discourse of neoliberalism by structuring the program a s a competitive market of scarce program itself invoke competition; states must race to change their education policy according to the desires of the federal admini stration in order to get to the top of the non inclusive list of candidates for competitive grants. Schools compete against each other in arbitrary measures of performance as well as for funding with the looming threat of closure under the euphemism of than other students on high ourse of neoliberalism, which RTT debatable policy reforms, RTT only encourage s its own hegemony. In addition, RTT does not mention the potential social cost. Earley (2000) warns of the dangers in competitive allocation of resources: A market policy lens is based on competition, winners and losers, and finding culprits. Yet teachers must assume that all children can learn, so there cannot be winners and losers. Market policies applied to public education are at odds with 37) Informed by neoliberal discourse on discourse depersonalizes the involved social actors, defining them by test scores and other data


66 based outcomes and representing them as either passive cogs in the machine or obstacles to be removed. By defining success for students, teachers, principals and schools as the change in standardized test scores over time, RTT marginalizes any measure of success that cannot be quantified and stored in a data system. These alternative measures of success in clude the discourses of education for social justice, democracy, liberal arts and personal growth and and career principals are fired, money or flexibility in spending is taken away or through refusing to award a competitive grant that money is not given in the first place. States that agree with the primacy of standardized testing and assessment linked to accountab ility reward systems are themselves rewarded by the RTT, while quality Intertextual Analysis In the analysis of each text, I focused on themes that I thought characterized the texture of each document. In the State of the Union (SOTU), Obama used semantic juxtaposition and a problem solution narrative to represent America as losing the global competition for scarce reso urces. He cited one of these scarce resources as employment, and proposed that specifically competition. Using the discourses of neoliberal competition as well as n ational economic prosperity, Obama positioned education as serving the goals of social efficiency and social mobility. He argued that education was a way to ensure both personal success and national success in the face of globalizati on. In the Blueprint fo r Reform Obama and his administration laid out a plan for the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure that all and career


67 inclusion, equity, social jus tice, liberal arts and citizenship but did not include substantive policy that funded efforts to promote these discourses. The substantively supported discourses in the Blueprint include the discourse of neoliberalism in the form of competitive grant progr ams, meritocratic high stakes standardized tests and punishment reward systems of accountability and the discourse of managerial efficiency with an emphasis on the construction of data systems and STEM instruction. The Race to the Top (RTT) Summary exhibit ed a hierarchical power distribution from two sources, the Secretary of Education and high stakes standardized tests. In overseeing the distribution of competitive grants, the Secretary and Department of Education hold the power to define what constitutes high quality education reform and innovation. By defining the fundamental concepts of student growth and student achievement in terms of the change in test scores over time, the RTT Summary defines success in a way that marginalizes alternative views of le arning and assessment. These three documents constitute a genre chain of interrelated texts. Each document has varying types of power. The SOTU is the most publicly visible text and holds rhetorical power. The Blueprint is a superficial policy brief that h olds potential power if it is incorporated whole or in part into law. The RTT Summary holds actual power as it has already been enacted into law and controls the distribution of federal money to states for public education. The three documents privilege an d marginalize various discourses with regards to education, and due to the power each document wields the order of discourse has implications for policymaking as well as the students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and states that live with the p olicies. The order of discourse in these texts also provides evidence to further understand the ideologies and goals that the authors have for education and society in general. Obama and his administration believe that education should serve the meritocrat ic ideology of competition and personal


68 advancement while also serving the plutocratic ideology of advancing an unequal national social efficiency respectively. Educa tion for democratic equality is included in non binding ways throughout each document but does not influence substantive policy in a significant manner. These findings fit within what Au (2009b) and Ball (1998) describe as the global movement towards educa tion policy based on neoliberal competition and data drive managerial efficiency. T he key issue will revolve around two sides of the same accountability coin: how will achievement be measured, and how will failure be defined ? But, in answering this question, can Obama give up the tests, the businesslike accountability, and the capital, and merit pay? (2009b: 317 quotations in original ) For states and districts, Obama defines success as conforming to federal policy guidelines in order to win competitive grants, while he defines failure as a refusal to adopt federal policy with the punishment being de facto economic sanctions. For students, Obama defines success as the improveme nt in standardized test scores over time with the reward being ephemeral employment and higher education opportunities and failure to improve leading to firing teachers and school closings. Accountability, school choice, competition, human capital theory a nd merit pay are all explicitly encoded in both the Blueprint and the RTT Summary and are characteriz ed as being bold and innovative reforms As shown throughout the analysis, the discourse works to represent these policies as consensus opinion, inherently effective and the keys to success in public education. But the success Obama envisions for education may not be the same success parents, teachers and students want for education. The overall order of discourse of the analyzed texts delimits the discourse in schools and turnaround policies and accountability systems work at the level of distributive rules to


69 determine who is and is not able to teach and the funding they re ceive. Emphasis on English language arts and STEM recontextualizes English, math and science as the most valuable subjects while devaluing the discourse of other learning. Finally, as described previously, the use of data from high stakes standardized test ing to make important decisions operates at the level of evaluative rules to control the possibilities for curriculum and pedagogy. Simply put, the order of discourse in this education system is that achievement is important but learning is not, teachers a nd schools are held responsible for all achievement regardless of outside factors and if students do not perform well than they risk losing human and financial resources. When standards and assessments are designed without the input of students, teachers, parents or community leaders, the public sphere collapses and democracy is impossible. As Labaree (1997) argues, deciding what education policy should look like is not a technical matter but a political matter; that is, deciding what purpose education shou ld have. It seems fairly clear that education is important to the Obama administration, but perhaps not for the same reasons that education is important to other groups such as teachers or students in low income communities. As opposed to the ideology of s ocial democracy that many supporters hoped Obama would represent, with regards to education policy he seems to be not only continuing the conservative status quo of his much maligned predecessor but also injecting a neoliberal doctrine of competition that further stratifies winners and losers (Au, 2009a). That Obama is informed by the ideology of meritocracy is no secret, but that he supports similar education policies to neoconservatives seems unthinkable to many of his progressive supporters. Referring to admit it.


70 Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or t he permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be ) guardian of the status quo. (Greenwald, 2011 np ) Regardless of whether Obama falls on the left, center or right in Am erican politics, the fact remains that his vision for education marginalizes the discourses of social justice, equity, democracy, liberal arts and personal growth for the discourses of managerial and financial efficiency, neoliberal competition for scarce resources, and supporting a stratified employment system for national economic growth that benefits the wealthy elite.


71 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION In my study, I first surveyed the theoretical and historical landscape of critical research into education policy an d then constructed a model connecting work done in educational philosophy, history, economics, critical discourse analysis and critical education policy analysis. I conducted a critical discourse analysis on each of three texts that represent Obama and the found that while the texts made reference to discourses such as social justice and liberal arts in procedural policy, the texts enforced and financially support ed discourses of neoliberal competition, managerial and financial efficiency and national economic interests as substantive policy. By applying my model to these findings, I argued that Obama and the Department of Education view public education as serving primarily the goals of social efficiency and social mobility. Further, I argued that Obama can be characterized as utilizing discourses stemming from the ideologies of meritocracy and plutocracy by proposing an education system that encourages competition for scarce resources but does little to rectify socioeconomic inequality and in fact may reproduce it. How could public education be different? Defenders of the types of reforms Obama promotes may argue that an efficient, data driven system is necessary for the large scale operation of public education in a nation of 400 million people. They might also argue that the market forces of competition for scarce resources constitute a healthy dose of reality for a bloated government agency and that if the real world is not fair and just than public education should not be either. However, despite the pessimistic findings of my study I submit that alternatives exist. They must exist, if we are to believe that we have any say in the future direction of society. In stead of asking the question of what education policies and systems


72 provide the best results, we should be asking the question of what results do we want. What is it that students should get from public school, and what values do we as a society want to ex emplify? So far, people like John Bobbitt and Friedrich Hayek have dominated the answers to these questions, but we could potentially see a constellation of truly progressive thinkers shaping the debate around public education policy. My thesis is a remind er that just because a politician looks and sounds progressive on a certain issue does not mean that they really are. With further research into policies that promote education for democratic equality without alienating the pragmatists, centrists and manag ers whose opinions carry significant weight, we might be able to steer the federal education system in a more just and democratic direction.


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77 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Kyle Freeman was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and moved to Gainesville, Florida for undergraduate studies He obtained a high school diploma from the St. Petersburg High School International Baccalaureate program. He Florida in 2008 with majors in both Linguistics and Spanish Durin g this time he studied Spanish in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina. Following a one year hia tus studying French in Paris he returned to obtain his m He graduated in Summer of 2011. Kyle is engaged t o be married and currently resides in Leadville, Colorado where he leads mountaineering trips for Outward Bound.