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ERIC Number: EJ1134652
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 25
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-2159-1474
Orwellian Educational Change under Obama: Crisis Discourse, Utopian Expectations, and Accountability Failures
Thomas, Paul L.
Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, v4 n1 p68-92 2011
Beginning with the Reagan administration and perpetuated by Obama's presidency are patterns of public speeches--crisis discourse and Utopian expectations--and educational policy that began with 1983's "A Nation at Risk," accelerated through Goals 2000, and codified without much critical concern as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) under George W. Bush and Secretary of Education Paige. This article explores the neoliberal assumptions driving the language and policies related to education that came from the Obama administration and guided by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The examination unpacks Duncan's speeches and the realities of the ideologies the administration supports through policy and public messages. The dynamic established through crisis discourse about the public education system, combined with Utopian expectations for those schools, helps mask the neoliberal assumptions embedded in what Freire (1998) calls "the bureaucratizing of the mind." The great failure being masked is that bureaucratic calls for school reform are perpetuating the labeling and marginalizing of teachers and students whose conditions in mechanistic schools parallel the inequities that the political elite are willfully ignoring both in their discourse and in their policies.
Buffalo State College School of Education. 1300 Elmwood Avenue Bacon Hall 306, Buffalo, NY 14214. Tel: 716-878-4214; Fax: 716-878-5301; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001; Race to the Top
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A