Engaging Failure: Probing the Problematics and Politics of Policy

Jill P. Koyama

in Making Failure Pay

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780226451732
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226451756 | DOI:
Engaging Failure: Probing the Problematics and Politics of Policy

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Implementing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) continues to be challenging at the district level because people do not automatically do what they are told. This chapter documents the appropriation of NCLB by tracing the linkages between the New York City school district, public schools across five boroughs, city government, and United Education. Integrating the federal and state actions with the more localized interactions, it traces “policy connections between different organizational and everyday worlds, even where actors in different sites do not know each other or share a moral universe.” The chapter provides an investigation into how NCLB creates circumstances that limit the range of possible reactions and outcomes to school failure—and also how NCLB enables the creative and practical management of problems constituted by the uncertainties of the policy. It challenges conventional educational ethnography and educational policy analysis in three important ways, firstly by reducing the gap between everyday actions and activities and government action. Secondly, the chapter concurrently regards the actions of disparate policy stakeholders, including supplemental educational services managers and politicians who foray temporarily into policy processes, and principals whose policy roles persist, often over years. Finally, it expands the field of study to transactional spaces that transcend physical locations.

Keywords: NCLB; school failure; educational policies; practical management; moral universe

Chapter.  9079 words. 

Subjects: Educational Strategies and Policy

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