Curriculum control: using discourse and structure to manage educational reform
After more than a year of debate, the Virginia State Board of Education adopted new curriculum 'standards' in June 1995 for elementary and secondary school social studies. The debate over the content and shape of these standards was acrimonious. At odds were twocommunities with fundamentally different conceptions of the nature of knowledge and the purposes of social studies: on one side were the state's conservative Republican Governor and his political appointees to the State Board of Education, and on the other was the professional social studies community, comprising college educators, curriculum supervisors and some classroom teachers. The Governor and his team won this debate by managing both the discourse and also the official structure in ways that largely excluded the professional community from substantive participation in the standards-development process. This episode serves as a case study in the politics of exclusion.