The University of Chicago by Elena Aydarova

In the last 5 years, many states have introduced science of reading (SOR) reforms that require increased attention to foundational skills instruction in grades K–3. The fast spread of these policies raises questions about the mechanisms that facilitated their rapid adoption. The purpose of this article is to examine how SOR discourses obscured or legitimated agendas of various policy actors involved in promoting literacy reforms. Research Methods/Approach: Grounded in anthropology of policy, this study examines interactions between legislators, policy makers, and policy advocates in Tennessee. Data sources include video recordings of legislative sessions, policy artifacts, reports, media articles, and interviews. Findings: The study documents how the focus on the “science of reading” disguises pursuits of conservative think tanks and major philanthropies in promoting curriculum reforms. Intermediary organizations’ advocacy for particular instructional materials and consulting services aligned with Common Core State Standards, even in the states that moved away from them, paves the way for greater standardization, centralization, and expansion of private sector involvement in educational services. Implications: Positioned in the wider sociopolitical context of neoliberal education reforms, SOR advocacy becomes a performance that obscures privatizers’ efforts to use literacy legislation as a mechanism for securing a market share for their products and services.

Article here