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Education and the Crisis of Public Values

Challenging the Assault on Teachers, Students, and Public Education – Second edition

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Henry A. Giroux

Updated with both a new introduction and a series of interviews, the second edition of Education and the Crisis of Public Values examines American society’s shift away from democratic public values, the ensuing move toward a market-driven mode of education, and the last decade’s growing social disinvestment in youth. The book discusses the number of ways that the ideal of public education as a democratic public sphere has been under siege, including full-fledged attacks by corporate interests on public school teachers, schools of education, and teacher unions. It also reveals how a business culture cloaked in the guise of generosity and reform has supported a charter school movement that aims to dismantle public schools in favor of a corporate-friendly privatized system. The book encourages educators to become public intellectuals, willing to engage in creating a formative culture of learning that can nurture the ability to defend public and higher education as a general good – one crucial to sustaining a critical citizenry and a democratic society.
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5. Dumbing Down Teachers: Attacking Colleges of Education in the Name of Reform

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5. Dumbing Down Teachers

Attacking Colleges of Education in the Name of Reform

As the Obama administration’s educational reform movement increasingly adopts the interests and values of a “free market” culture, many students graduate from public schooling and higher education with an impoverished political imagination, unable to recognize injustice and unfairness. As I have emphasized throughout this book, they often find themselves invested in a notion of unattached individualism that severs them from any sense of moral and social responsibility to others or to a larger notion of the common good. Moreover, they quickly learn that schools should be seen less as a public good than as a private right. At the same time, those students who jeopardize their achievement in terms of the quantifiable measures and instrumental values now used to define school success are often either exposed to harsh disciplinary procedures, driven out of schools, subjected to medical interventions, or, even worse, pushed into the criminal justice system.1 Most of these students are poor whites and minorities of color and, increasingly, students with special needs.

To be sure, the empirical emphasis of conservative school policy has been in place for decades. In keeping with this trend, the Obama administration’s educational policy under the leadership of Arne Duncan lacks a democratic vision or sense of moral direction. Consequently, it reproduces rather than diminishes many of these problems. In addition, these policies bear the trace of the ideological remnants of a...

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