The Achievement Gaps and Mathematics Education: An Analysis of the U.S. Political Discourse in Light of Foucault's Governmentality



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The research question that I posed for this investigation is how the principles of Foucault?s governmentality can shed light on the political discourse on the achievement gaps (AGs) at the federal level.

The AGs have been for some years now an actively researched phenomenon in education in the U.S. as well as in the rest of the world. Many in the education profession community, politicians, social activists, researchers and others have considered the differences in educational outcomes an indication of a grave deficiency of the educational process and even of the society at large.

I began this work with a review of the educational research relevant to the above mentioned research question. Then I presented my research methodology and de- scribed how obtained my data and analyzed them both qualitatively and quantitatively. The results of the analysis were discussed in the light of federal legislation, the work of Foucault on governmentality, and the relevant literature and woven into a series of narratives. Finally, I abstracted these narratives into a model for under- standing the federal policy discourse. This model consists of an intersection of eight antitheses: (1) the rgime of discipline versus the apparatuses of security, (2) the appeal to danger versus assurances of progress or even success, (3) the acknowledgement of the association between the AGs and the ?disadvantage? of the students and the disregard and even prohibition of the equalization of school funding, (4) the desire for all students to be ?equal,? but they have to be dis-aggregated, the (5) injunction of research based instruction practices imposed by an ideology-driven reform policy, (6) we expect equal outcomes by using market forces, which are known to produce a diversity of results, (7) the teacher is a ?highly qualified? professional, but also a functionary of the government, and finally (8) the claim to honor local control and school flexibility versus the unprecedented federalization and bureaucratization of the schools, which is a mirror of the contrast between the desire to establish apparatuses of security in schools and the means to establishing them through rgimes of discipline.