23 SES 01 B, Authority and Politics
Parallel Paper Session
Social critic and philosopher Salvoc Žižek (2003) points to an international need for a shared rethinking of politics. This need is prompted by a desire for dramatically different solutions than those promoted by either the 21st Century web of finance and policy elites or the 20th Century fascist communist ideologies. Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to offer those concerned with the inequalities that exist in education policy with a different vocabulary. In order to do so we call upon the work of political philosophers - Alain Badiou and Jaques Rancière – as their ideas about a radically re-imagined democracy allows for a critical re-reading of today’s educator who is sits in a strange position within the “heterarchy” (Ball 2009) of the policy field. The hierarchy in which they work implicates them as they implement to varying degrees the policies that fail to adequately address issues of educational equity while also being asked to actively participate in networks of deliberative policy making.
In this position the educator must enact their identity within a society that often privileges individuals who are able to promote solutions to a “fixable” system’s failures rather than those choosing to critique the “flawed” constructs of a system. For, example, in the U.S., under the current configurations of school governance, the educational leader/team player is expected to “turn around” a historically low-performing campus while dutifully implementing state and/or federally sponsored accountability policies without necessarily addressing the historical inequality that has shaped educational opportunities. In such cases, this caricature is complicit with policies requiring the closure of low-performing public schools, the voiding of teacher and staff contracts, and the outsourcing of education functions to private entities.
In direct opposition in the U.S. is the caricature of the educator renegade: individuals who question such policies, thus choosing to openly criticize the federally mandated policies targeting school turnaround. The term renegade is a person who “deserts, betrays, or is disloyal to an organization, country or set of principles” (Oxford, 2012). In this light, educators who inhabit the renegade identity, are individuals who betray the country (and by implication its children) by choosing to openly critique policy. The acceptance of this dichotomy rhetorically and ideologically structures the democratic possibilities of educators. These dichotomies should be considered even more inadequate when situated amongst the emerging map of policy networks that develop and enact education policy (Ball 2008; 2009; Goodwin 2009).
This paper examines the difficult position of the educator whose advocacy-related actions all to often give birth to the caricature of the team player/renegade dichotomy. Theoretical in nature, this paper focuses on the ways in which political theory shapes how educators are able to realize their identity as advocates within a democracy organized through the deliberative engagement of contested opinions. Accordingly, our investigation of the political theory of Badiou and Rancière offers an alternative language for educators who seek to escape the limited understandings of what it means to be an advocate within today’s field of education policy.
Badiou, A. (2003). St. Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. Trans. R. Brassier. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Ball, S. J. (2008). New philanthropy, new networks, and new governance in education. Political Studies, 56 (4), 747-765. Ball, S. J. (2009). Beyond networks? A brief response to 'which networks matter in education governance?' Political Studies, 57 (3), 688-691. Oxford (2012). "Renegade, n, adj." Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/162410?rskey=TxKcQ7&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid. Rancière, J. (1991). The ignorant schoolmaster: Five lessons in intellectual emancipation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Rancière, J. (1998). Disagreement: Politics and philosophy. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press. Žižek, S. (2002). Introduction: On ideological antioxidants. In S. Žižek, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the (mis)use of a Notion (pp. 1-7). New York, NY: Verso.
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