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A Policy History of Standards-Based Education in America


Boyce Brown

A Policy History of Standards-Based Education in America is a narrative history of the development of standards-based education in the United States over the last several decades, from the perspective of anarchist cultural studies. There have been other books on the evolution of federal education policy, but few have struck the right balance between describing how it actually happened while still providing a theoretical framework, and none have kept the focus specifically on standards-based education. These related books have also rightly noted the great diversity of players, factions, interest groups, and organizations that helped move federal education policy from «equity», to «excellence», to «accountability» over the last four decades. This book goes on to make the original claim (using a rigorous analysis of the historical record) that big business was the primary empirical driver behind standards-based education and «global economic competitiveness» was the primary ideological driver. Finally, the book concludes by interrogating the implicit claims embedded within global competitiveness ideology; that the present international economy will continue as it has indefinitely, which is mathematically impossible. Unless things change quickly, this planet is heading toward economic, environmental, and geostrategic shocks of the very first order of magnitude. An eco-pedagogy for anarchist bioregions might be part of the solution.
The leading markets for this book will be major public and Division 1 research university libraries and university courses in education policy, education law, education history, political science, and public policy.


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7 Conclusion


· 7 · conclusion So far, I have attempted to describe and explain why policy makers and other interest groups came to embrace standards- based education as the key to re- cent educational reform efforts. In chapter 2, I examined how elite business interests made common cause with the leading lights of what has been called the “new right” during the late 1960s and 1970s to create a coalition that, while their interests were sometimes in conflict, was nevertheless instrumen- tal in the eventual creation of standards- based education. During this period, we also saw the beginning of a rightward shift in the Democratic party as well, a faction that would join the business- right coalition on education reform is- sues to later coalesce into standards- based education, making these concerns more bipartisan than they are portrayed in such influential works as Berliner and Biddle (1996) and Apple (2006). In chapter 3, I analyzed a flurry of re- ports on educational policy reform issued during the 1980s and early 1990s, as well as some groundbreaking examples of reform in practice initiated during the same period, with a special focus on the incredibly influential A Nation at Risk report. I chose to focus on these reports because they established much of the rhetoric, proposals, and institutional linkages that would later become standards- based education. Or, more succinctly, “whoever decides what the 150 a policy history of standards-based education in america game is about also decides who gets into the game” (Schattschneider cited in...

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