Apple, M. (2004). Ideology and curriculum. New York and London: Routledge Falmer. Pp. 234 (paper). ISBN 0-415-94912-2.
Questioning the Unquestionable of Schooling and Curriculum
by G Reyes
In an age where federal legislation claims that “no child will be left behind” by imposing requirements, structures, and measurements to hold schools and teachers “accountable”, would it be a shock to hear the statement that “schools do work”(Apple, 2004, p. 55)? Perhaps many practicing teachers, particularly those in districts facing layoffs, budget cuts, school closures, and other disempowering actions, might initially be appalled at such a statement. Let us then take 4 urban schools from a Northern California East Bay district as examples. In 2005, two of these schools were labeled as “dropout factories”, where approximately 20% or less of 9th graders were promoted to the 12th grade 4 years later, as determined by research performed by John Hopkins University. The other two schools displayed the inverse relationship with “promoting power”, as they reported over 90% of 9th graders being promoted to the 12th grade 4 years later. While there are many differences between these schools, let us only look into 1 for the moment: curriculum. For the 2 schools labeled as “dropout factories”, curriculum and instruction information on their webpage only refer to the California Content Standards and mandated district requirements. In contrast, the other 2 schools provide information on classes that include not only standards-based math, science, and language arts courses, but also several Advanced Placement (AP) sections, multiple “Fine Art” courses such as Sculpture and Advanced Photography, multiple Language courses such as Latin and Japanese, and other courses such as Debate, Ethnic Studies, Ethics & Values, and 20th Century Novel.
Contemporary urban folk might dismiss this as another complacent case of “it is what it is”, where material conditions in life are...