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Forgotten Places

Critical Studies in Rural Education


Edited By William M. Reynolds

Forgotten Places: Critical Studies in Rural Education critically investigates and informs the construction of the rural, rural identity and the understanding of the rural internationally. This book promotes and expands the notion of critical understandings of rural education, particularly in the areas of race, class, gender, and LGBTQ, with conceptualizations of social justice. While there have been many volumes written on critical issues in urban education, only a small number have been produced on rural education, and the majority of those are not critical. By contrast, Forgotten Places not only discusses "schools in the country," but also expands conceptualizations of the rural beyond schools and place as well as beyond the borders of the United States. It also tackles the artificial duality between conceptualizations of urban and rural. Forgotten Places includes scholarly investigations into the connections among the symbolic order, various forms of cultural artifacts and multiple readings of these artifacts within the context of critical/transformational pedagogy. This book fills a significant gap in the scholarly work on the ramifications of the rural.

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Chapter Sixteen: Dumbing Down the Fly-Over State: The Scape-Goating of Education in Oklahoma (Jennifer Job / Kristi Dickey / Susan Kirk / Justin McCrackin / Gina Morris)


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Dumbing Down THE Fly-Over State

The Scape-Goating of Education in Oklahoma


America’s education system is currently undergoing a systematic assault on its status as a public good, led by a conglomeration of neoliberal entrepreneurs, venture philanthropists, and the government entities that cater to both (Kohn, 2012). Media organizations portray America’s schools as failing, parroting political messages, contrary to significant evidence otherwise (Watkins, 2012). “Reformers” have developed a complex system—stemming from the power of No Child Left Behind—of ranking, assessment, and punitive grading systems designed to defund and discredit democratically-run schools. This system replaces locally-designed curriculum with corporate programs and tests, and public administrations with private for-profit businesses. Recent media attention on seemingly-stagnant Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores have convinced much of America that its public schools are just not serving its children, and charter school companies are being hailed in the media and by politicians as the wave of the future. In addition to news reports that laud the work of groups like KIPP and Stand for Children, popular films such as Waiting for “Superman” and The Lottery are furthering market reforms of schools.

However, there are a handful of states that have resisted this trend, and they are suffering a number of consequences. In 2014, Oklahoma made the decision...

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