Making Failure Pay, with Jill Koyama

| January 6, 2011

A little discussed aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a mandate that requires failing schools to hire afterschool tutoring companies, the largest of which are private, for-profit corporations, and to pay them with federal funds. In this book talk, Jill Koyama, author of Making Failure Pay: For Profit Tutoring, High-Stakes Testing, and Public Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2010) examines and interrogates the implications of this new blurring of the boundaries between government, schools, and commerce in New York City, the country’s largest school district. Drawing from her revelatory book, Koyama explains that NCLB, a federally legislated, state-regulated, district-administered, and school-applied policy, explicitly legitimizes giving private organizations significant roles in public education. Drawing on her three years of ethnographic fieldwork, she leads a discussion about the ways in which America’s treatment of school failure is political, problematic, and ultimately, highly profitable. Koyama will situate the book’s findings within a broader discussion of educational reform, privatization, and federal government intervention into public education.

With good humor,  Dr. Koyama begins with a review by Jack Schneider in Teachers College Record and discusses the three types of failure–  extenuated, neglected, and fabricated — using SES (supplemental educational services) as a prime example.

Jill P. Koyama, an educational anthropologist, is Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Jill Koyama earned her Ph.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2008; is the co-editor of School Connections: U. S. Mexican Youth, Peers, and School Achievement (Teachers College Press, 2004); and has written numerous articles, book chapters, and policy briefs.

This book talk was co-sponsored by the Society for Anthropological Studies and Gottesman Libraries.

Referencing Our Book Talk, Making Failure Pay, with Jill Koyama, on Wednesday, 11/10

Video by Michelle DeLateur