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“The Great Equalizer": The positioning of children in federal education policy in the United States
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The United States subscribes to the narrative that education is a social equalizer, and prioritizes an educational system in which all children are afforded an equal opportunity to achieve success. A commitment to this belief is evidenced through policy attempts to enact this equality narrative: eliminating gaps in achievement between children from different social groups (race, socioeconomic status, English language proficiency, and ability level) is the stated objective of federal education policy legislation. This research aims to interrogate the ways in which children are positioned through this narrative by examining the problematization of ‘achievement’ in Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015). It is guided by two research questions: how is the concept of ‘achievement’ presented and used in federal education policy, and how does this problematization position children and childhood with respect to their role in education? To investigate these questions, this research employs a policy analysis guided by Carol Bacchi’s (2009) “What’s the Problem Represented to Be?” (WPR) approach. This methodology emphasizes a contextualized analysis, which explores policy through its historical and theoretical context. In light of the strong neoliberal commitments evident in the United States since the 1980s, a frame of neoliberalism is thus essential to this analysis. This research argues that the problematization of achievement advances a scientific and standardized concept of ‘achievement’ that positions children as de-situated. This positioning effectively positions children as singularly culpable for their own failure, without acknowledging the role of the child’s context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 42
Keywords [en]
neoliberalism, achievement, policy, equality, education
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-148810ISRN: LIU-TEMAB/MPCS-A--18/008—SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-148810DiVA, id: diva2:1221297
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Child Studies (120 ECTS credits)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-20 Created: 2018-06-19 Last updated: 2018-06-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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