Document Type



Doctor of Education


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Charles J. Fazzaro


Sullivan-Brown, Kathleen

Bevel, Mary

Davis, Matthew


Abstract There is a long history relative to the purpose of American public education. Since at least the Founders, in particular Thomas Jefferson, the purpose of public education has been to prepare children to assume the primary political office, that of citizen. The reasoning was that for a democracy to endure citizens would have to make political judgments relative to both preserving the democracy and furthering democratic ideals including equity and access to the ?good life.? This educational philosophy took root more firmly during the 19th century with the advancement of the Common School. The twentieth century saw the dramatic expansion of American public education to include women during the first half and minorities, especially African American children, during the later half. By the third quarter of the 20th century attention was given to the education of mentally and physically handicapped children. This study is a Critical Enquiry to determine if the technologies (methods) of implementation and assessment of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) relative to the amended 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA) are consistent with promoting the American democratic ideals of equity and access. The method of enquiry was through a deconstructive reading (analysis) of policy discourse of two Federal laws intended to improve the academic achievement of students in public schools: 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the 2004 (as amended) Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA). The framework for the enquiry consisted of the historical analytics of Michel Foucault and the language games of Jean-Frangois Lyotard. The Critical Enquiry revealed that the although both Acts have noble intents the methods of implementation and assessment seriously contradict the democratic ideals of both equity and access. Given this fundamental contradiction, the study suggests that all educational policies first be scrutinized through a Critical Enquiry before being fully promulgated and implemented.

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