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ERIC Number: ED568745
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 216
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-61250-973-0
Assigning Blame: The Rhetoric of Education Reform
Hlavacik, Mark
Harvard Education Press
Despite a plethora of opinions on how to improve US education, a remarkable consensus has emerged that someone or something is to blame for the failures of the public school system, argues rhetoric scholar Mark Hlavacik in this new and insightful book examining the role of language and persuasion in the rise of the accountability movement. Analyzing five of the most prominent acts of public persuasion since the founding of the US Department of Education in 1979--Milton Friedman's appeal for vouchers on national television; the National Commission on Excellence in Education's seminal "A Nation at Risk" report; Jonathan Kozol's "Savage Inequalities"; the No Child Left Behind Act; and also its repudiation by Diane Ravitch--Hlavacik concludes that "blame has come to the fore as a chief means by which Americans dispute the future of their public schools." Hlavacik explores the implications of using blame to achieve policy goals, sounding a cautionary note for reformers and educators alike: while blame can be an effective, even positive tool for change, overuse can breed cynicism and undermine faith in the very institution that advocates seek to change. Hlavacik urges policy makers, scholars, educators, and the public to reconsider its favorite rhetorical tactic for pursuing education reform and offers alternatives to the overreliance on blame.
Harvard Education Press. 8 Story Street First Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 888-437-1437; Tel: 617-495-3432; Fax: 978-348-1233; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Books; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001