Accentuating Failure: Emphasizing the Need for “Help”

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:
Accentuating Failure: Emphasizing the Need for “Help”

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While concerns about addressing school failure were ubiquitous throughout the New York City's public schools, the administrative staff—principals, assistant principals, parent coordinators, and deans—of certain schools expressed great alarm and called for more immediate action. In schools where failure was made to matter excessively, through exaggerated actions and discourses of despair, the activities of supplemental educational services were translated as necessary “lifelines.” This chapter illustrates the urgency and the problems that resulted when schools and tutoring companies partnered to fix school failure as quickly as possible. It focuses on interactions between MS 532's principal, assistant principal, and parent coordinator, each of whom expected United Education to be the school's “lifeline,” and the education manager, who was given the ominous task of “saving the school” in sixty program hours. The tensions, complexities, and contradictions in the appropriation of No Child Left Behind at MS 532 demonstrate how language is repeatedly used as a norming agent. Attending to failure with (hyper)urgency led to the construction of yet more failure.

Keywords: supplemental educational service; school failure; norming agent; MS 532's principal

Chapter.  8227 words. 

Subjects: Educational Strategies and Policy

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