Monday, September 24, 2007

NCLB and Ritual Performance

I recently moved our daughter to West Hollywood and her new post-college life. After wrestling 4 pieces of luggage, 3 of them overweight, and a cat, on and off an airplane and into our rental car, and then schlepping out to buy a car in 106 degree Montclair/Pomona, I needed a break.

I tooled west down Sunset in my rented Prius to have lunch with Peter McLaren. I hadn't met Peter, but he was the major professor of my new colleague, Nathalia Jaramillo, and she said he lived near where our daughter would be. I figured, yes, what a perfect break from the chores of moving!

The lunch was delightful, full of good conversation and delicious food. I found Peter warm, open, and a good listener. I have written on hospitality and can vouch for such in this encounter with a true compañero. He gifted me with some of his books (not all, thank goodness, or I would have had overweight bags going back too!), and we have exchanged emails since then.

Just a few days ago, he sent this link from DailyKos after I had informed him about the "Hoover in the Heartland" initiative at the University of Illinois and the leadership of our mutual friend, Nick Burbules, in that situation.

The author uses Peter's "ritual performance" trope as a lens to open up a conversation about contextual issues surrounding NCLB. With Peter's okay, I have posted it here for discussion.

Here is a snippet from the end of the DailyKos essay that captures what the author is trying to weave together:

Peter McLaren himself, along with Nathalia Jaramillo, has in their latest co-authored book offered a summary criticism of NCLB:

Our claim is that NCLB is a historical apparatus that serves to exert control over the largest and most vulnerable segments of the population in the interest of promoting capitalist consumption and the reproduction of the law of value and the value form of labor. (74)

This, it seems to me, is the summit at which criticism of NCLB, following the lines drawn out by McLaren himself in
Schooling as a Ritual Performance, should attain with effort. A "ritual performance" documentation of how NCLB operates on the ground level would be most useful to all who wish to understand how NCLB really works.

But, most effectively, such a study might (if written in a non-elitist, understandable prose) persuade the parents of public school students that the regime of high-stakes testing is not worth the easy convenience of test score reports for all the damage it does to schools and children.


Cassiodorus said...

Hey! That's me! I wrote that!

And I live pretty near "Montclair/Pomona"... drop by sometime...


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