"No one wins. One side just loses more slowly": Schooling, Standardization, and Inequality through the Lens of The Wire.
Phelps, Benjamin R.
- High-stakes standardized tests, which became widespread after the No Child Left Behind legislation of 2001, have come under criticism for their biases and virtual takeover of many school curricula. However, those tests are just one piece of the broader push for school standardization, which has been not only ineffective but has also exacerbated existing social inequalities in its one-size-fits-all ... read moreapproach. My thesis uses existing research to examine how the push for "higher standards" and more accountability in schools has, in fact, resulted in diminished learning, unfair expectations for students and teachers, and a disproportional burden on students of Color. I then use examples from the television series The Wire to illustrate the ways in which standards-based reform methods are producing and reproducing social inequality. Although it is a fictionalized representation, The Wire, with its narrative freedoms, is perhaps more capable than a non-fiction work of depicting the myriad ways in which school standardization results in unbalanced power dynamics and restricts student engagement. Ultimately, through the research and the depictions in The Wire, I conclude that standards-based reform is a strategy that aligns with the American ideal of school as "the great equalizer," but actually serves to heighten the role of schools in the creation of racial, socioeconomic, and other societal inequities.read less