Assigning Blame

Assigning Blame The Rhetoric of Education Reform

Mark Hlavacik
cloth, 216 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-973-0
Price: $60.00

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paper, 216 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-972-3
Price: $30.00

Add to Cart

Despite a plethora of opinions on how to improve US education, a remarkable consensus has emerged that someone or something is to blame for the failures of the public school system, argues rhetoric scholar Mark Hlavacik in this new and insightful book examining the role of language and persuasion in the rise of the accountability movement. 


Assigning Blame is an invaluable guide to the rhetoric of educational policy. Whether pushing for privatization, more testing, or greater accountability, advocates in debates about public policy have consistently turned to the rhetoric of blame to animate their arguments and persuade their audiences. But, as Mark Hlavacik notes, this reliance on the rhetoric of blame to shape our understanding of public education has both rewards and consequences. — Kendall R. Phillips, professor of communication and rhetorical studies, Syracuse University, and president, Rhetoric Society of America

Hlavacik carefully intersects the fields of rhetoric and public policy to highlight the critical relationship between political rhetoric and policy making. This important book introduces the concept of ‘public blame’—tracing the persuasive role of calculated accusation as a strategy for garnering support for and against educational change. — Dana Mitra, professor of educational theory and policy, Penn State University

This fresh and provocative book by Mark Hlavacik explores the rhetorical power of blame in contemporary education reform. Using a series of illuminating and richly detailed case studies, he persuasively argues that a different discursive strategy will be required if we want our schools to have a more hopeful future. — Christopher P. Loss, associate professor, Vanderbilt University

Assigning Blame is a contribution that all educational researchers, policymakers, and the public in general need to add to their collections. — Bryan Mann, AJE Forum

And with the debate on 'school choice' set to continue for the foreseeable future, Assigning Blame is likely to remain important, if not essential, reading for those interested in the intersection of rhetoric and policy making. — Stephen Schneider, Michigan State University Press

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About the Author

Mark Hlavacik is an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of North Texas.

Table of Contents


Blog Post: "The Paradox of Public Blame and the Prospects of Public Education"

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