Political Spectacle and the Fate of American Schools

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"In the first chapter we lay out the theory of symbolic politics and the political spectacle, and illustrate its elements with brief examples. The second chapter presents the case of assessment policy in Arizona. Only political spectacle theory makes sense of these events. Chapter Three presents another case, this one about school choice and how elite parents in a single Colorado school district manipulated public policy for their particular interests. Chapter Four presents a case history of a school in the throes of desegregation and shows how political actors manipulated desegregation policy in such a way that the policy outcomes were nothing like the policy intents. In this chapter we pay special attention to the role of mass media in policy and political spectacle and identify the media as actors in the spectacle, not just observers and reporters of it. Researchers - those paragons of science and objectivity - also turn out, under close scrutiny - to be actors in the political spectacle, as Chapter Five details. In the political spectacle, rationality takes a beating. We show how this happened in research on reading, although we could just as well have taken on research in English immersion, or vouchers, or technology, or social promotion and shown similar actions and events. In Chapter Six, we take a critical look at the role that the corporate world plays in education policy played out in political spectacle. Finally, in Chapter Seven, we sum up the evidence and try to find some reason for optimism - about what might be doen to ameliorate the damage done by political spectacle to schools"--P. xiv - xv.

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Political spectacle and the fate of American schools: symbolic politics and educational policies

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No Child Left Behind. A Nation at Risk. School choice. Tennessee's STAR program and the Texas Assessment and Accountability System (TAAS). Yes, all of these educational policy programs deal with ... Read full review

Political spectacle and the fate of American schools: symbolic politics and educational policies

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

No Child Left Behind. A Nation at Risk. School choice. Tennessee's STAR program and the Texas Assessment and Accountability System (TAAS). Yes, all of these educational policy programs deal with ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Mary Lee Smith is Professor in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State University and the Director of Southwest Education Policy Studies in Phoenix, Arizona. She has spoken at local schools and educational agencies nationwide on the topics of grade retention and mandated assessment.

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