"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Critical Discourse Analysis Close to Home

Hi All: this Washington Post article was brought to my attention as a good piece of text for us to critically analyze. I'd be pretty upset if my child were enrolled in one of the failing schools about to be taken over by the state, then again, I would probably remove him and enroll him in private school. That not being an option for the real world students in these failing Virginia schools, I agree the status quo is unacceptable. Consider that my attempt at transparency.

 I think the issue here is state government intervening in local government jurisdiction. There is also a historical context of big government intervention in education, with "separate but equal" school systems for black and white children. Then there was forced integration. Don't y'all have that famous "Remember the Titans" school here in VA? In grew up in suburban Detroit; our "forced integration" issue was city kids being bussed out to the suburban schools. I remember how upset my parents were, I remember neighbors moving "further out" to get away from "inner-city Detroit." I was a little too young (sheltered?) to fully understand all the fears and concerns.

The issue of state take-over of failing schools as outlined in the article below seems like a 2013 version of some of the issues I described above. Won't we be creating a government bureaucracy to oversee a "separate but equal" school system of the 6 failing schools? This action was modeled on something similar in Louisiana, called the Recovery School District. Geez, the name alone will probably destine it to fail. I don't think that program has proven itself a success. Honestly, did the Gov come up with this plan on his own or is he getting his education advice and guidance from VDOE? Who, exactly, are the stakeholders in this plan?

Back to the schools, what about the teachers and students at the 6 schools in question? They've already been labeled "failures." I haven't followed this issue to know if the parents, teachers, or students have been given a voice in the process, though it seems to have been ongoing. Is it "common sense" that we want our children to have a fair and equal (what are the Constitutional words?) education? Even though I don't know the details of this issue, I feel like I'm "joining the bandwagon" that something must be done. Beyond that, I'm at a loss.

That's all I have for CDA so I'm turning this over to you, colleagues. Thanks for listening, and help me out here! Susan

Governor’s bill to allow Va. to take over chronically failing schools wins final approval

RICHMOND, Va. — Legislation pushed by Gov. Bob McDonnell to allow the state to take over chronically failing schools received final General Assembly approval Wednesday.

The House of Delegates voted 64-34 to pass the bill, a major component of the Republican governor’s education reform agenda. The Senate previously passed the measure on a tie-breaking vote by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. It now goes to McDonnell for his signature.

The legislation will take effect only if the state budget — now the subject of negotiations — includes the $600,000 McDonnell proposed to get the program started.
Louisiana’s statewide Recovery School District served as the model for McDonnell’s proposal to create an Opportunity Education Institution to take control of failing schools. The Virginia legislation establishes an 11-member board to try to turn around schools that repeatedly fail to meet accreditation standards.
Six schools currently meet the criteria for state takeover, but none will be transferred until after the 2013-2014 school year.
Proponents of the legislation said those few schools have been allowed to fail for too long, shortchanging students who are entitled to a quality education.
“With today’s vote in the House, Virginia sends a message that the status quo is not acceptable in chronically failing schools,” McDonnell said in a statement. “We have laid out a clear path to turn around those schools and provide the students who attend them with the world-class educational opportunities they deserve.”
Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, complained that parents and other residents would be excluded from efforts to improve the schools.
“This bill is an outrageous intrusion into local governance,” she said. “Six schools being taken over with this process is six too many.”
Organizations representing Virginia teachers, school board and administrators opposed the bill.
Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, said student performance has improved in Louisiana’s Recovery School District. Several legislators visited that state last year for a firsthand look at the program, which Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal touted at a news conference with McDonnell earlier this month. Jindal said 77 percent of students in New Orleans were attending failing schools in 2005. That’s been reduced to 29 percent, he said.
However, New Orleans schools run by the Recovery School District still have a D grade on average while those outside of New Orleans received an F in the latest round of grades released in October. Sixty-eight of the 80 schools overseen by Louisiana’s statewide system are in New Orleans.
The Senate, meanwhile, voted 32-7 to pass a competing plan to deal with failing schools without a state takeover. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Kenneth Alexander of Norfolk, would require intensified efforts by state and local school officials to turn around failing schools.
“This gets at the same problem without turning the school system upside down,” said Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax.
Republican opponents of the bill argued that it wouldn’t do much that can’t already be done.
Alexander’s bill also hinges on funding and faces an uncertain fate in the heavily GOP House.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  1. Susan, I admire your effort, and I am no fan of our current governor, or this plan. I agree with your general worries about removing control of schools even further from the local communities. And you raise good questions that would be important to follow up on to get a bigger and more complete picture.

    It's tricky to do CRA, to keep our passions transparent and yet strive for openness and understanding. At times your language feels more like an opion than an analysis: "big" government; "forced" integration. These phases suggest a stance that you did not disclose up front!

  2. I have mixed feelings on this one. I know local government should be the best equipped to 'school' children, but sometimes the best equipped aren't in the geographic area. How do we help failing schools without going outside the arena that hasn't worked? How do we critically analyze why the school is failing and try to solve the problem without looking to others that succeed? Throwing money at the problem has never resolved an issue. I guess it's a question of how to bring in success without usurping anyone.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.