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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Educators as Optimistic Futurists: A Critical Case Study Investigation into the Takeover of One Middle School in the Southwest United States

  • Author(s): Smith, Matthew David
  • Advisor(s): McLaren, Peter
  • et al.

Advocates of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) often champion a neoliberal agenda of privatization, deregulation, the mass firings of teachers and administrators, and takeovers of schools deemed to be "failing." School takeovers are sanctioned under the No Child Left Behind Act's Corrective Action measures, in which schools that have never made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) are subject to mass firings, restructuring measures, and any other action deemed appropriate at the state and/or district level. The inner dynamics of NCLB function to create a hegemonic state in which the ruling class creates the achievement standards and assessment methods, then makes costly improvement recommendations for "failing" schools. This becomes a form of deregulation in which federal funding is moved from the public sector into private education corporations. Such a system is designed to discipline educational institutions which act contrary to the privatization agenda.

In December of 2008, the Puesta del Sol Independent School District, the largest school district in the State of New Mexico, announced that it would be removing the principals from La Independencia Middle School and Ortiz High School. The justification lie within each school's inability to make AYP. Yet throughout the takeover process questions were raised as to the nature and efficacy of the district's intentions.

In this dissertation, I seek to understand the inner workings, motivations, and consequences of the removal of La Independencia Middle School's leadership, its impact on the remaining faculty and administration, and the changes to the educational realities of the students.

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