Vol. 6 No. 6 (2011): Gubernatorial Rhetoric and the Purpose of Education in the United States

For decades, scholars have debated the purpose of U.S. education, but too often ignored how power brokers outside of the educational arena define education or the consequences of those definitions. This study examines how one of the most prominent categories of U.S. leaders, state governors, defines education and discusses the policy implications. We examine gubernatorial rhetoric—that is, public speeches—about education, collected from State of the State speeches from 2001 to 2008. In all, one purpose gains overwhelmingly more attention—economic efficiency. As long as governors and the general public, seen enthymematically through gubernatorial rhetoric, define education in economic terms, other purposes will likely remain marginalized, leading to education policies designed disproportionately to advance economic ends.
Published: 2011-09-23