Fissures in standards formulation: The role of neoconservative and neoliberal discourses in justifying standards development in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

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Abstract

An analysis of English/language arts standards development in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the late 1990s and early 2000s shows a process of compromise between neoliberal and neoconservative factions involved in promoting and writing standards, with the voices of educators conspicuously absent. Interpretive and critical discourse analyses of versions of English/language arts standards at the high school level and of public documents related to standards promotion reveal initial conflicts between neoconservative and neoliberal discourses, which over time were integrated in final standards documents. The content standards finally released for use in guiding curriculum in each state were bland and incoherent documents that reflected neither a deep knowledge of the field nor an acknowledgement of what is likely to engage young learners. The study suggests the need for looking
more critically at standards as political documents, and a greater consideration of educators' expertise in the process of their future development and revision.

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How to Cite
Caughlan, S., & Beach, R. (2007). Fissures in standards formulation: The role of neoconservative and neoliberal discourses in justifying standards development in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 15, 18. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v15n18.2007
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Author Biographies

Samantha Caughlan, Michigan State University

Samantha Caughlan is an assistant professor of English education at Michigan State University. Her research interests include English teachers’ cultural models of their discipline, facilitating teachers’ development of dialogic classroom discourse practices, and the effect of state and local policy decisions on classroom practice.

Richard Beach, University of Minnesota

Richard Beach is Professor of English Education at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of 17 books including A Teacher’s Introduction to Reader Response Theories (1993) and co-author of Inquiry-based English Instruction: Engaging Students in Life and Literature (2001), Teaching Literature to Adolescents (2006), Teachingmedialiteracy.com: A Guide to Web-based Links and Activities (2007), and High School Students’ Competing Social Worlds: Negotiating Identities and Allegiances through Responding to Multicultural Literature (2007). He conducts research on response to literature and the media.

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