Analyzing Duncan's "Race to the Top" Speech
Gary K. Clabaugh, Ed. D.
Instructions to Dr. Clabaugh's students:
Let's see how well you can distinguish substance from mere rhetoric. I have posted a copy of a speech by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan concerning "Race to the Top," the latest Federal school reform initiative, on this site. (Click the hyperlink.) Use the "tools" listed below from Understanding Controversy (adapted, 2010, from Analyzing Controversy) to decide how substantial his speech is.
Each of these "tools" (techniques of analysis) are carefully explained in Understanding Controversy -- one of the electronic texts included in your class materials CD. Use it as your reference.
1. SLOGANS -- to what extent does Secretary Duncan use slogans (important terms that can be differently understood) in this speech? Count the total occurrences and provide illustrative examples.
2. REIFICATIONS -- to what extent does Secretary Duncan refer to groups of people as if they resembled a living organism devoid of individual differences? Count the occurrences and provide examples.
3. PROGRAMMATIC DEFINITIONS -- to what extent does Secretary Duncan define things in ways that, if you accept his definition, you accept an entire program of action that it implies? Count the occurrences and provide examples.
4. PRESUPPOSITIONS -- what important things must Secretary Duncan presuppose to be true, given the nature of his remarks? Be as specific as you can.
5. THE NATURE OF SOCIETY -- which of the three models of society (individualistic, consensus or conflict) described in Understanding Controversy best supports Secretary Duncan's remarks? Explain.
6. AUTHORITY -- Secretary Duncan makes some "factual claims." But what one accepts as a fact depends on what source or interpretive authority one respects. What authority backs his factual claims?
7. CONSENSUS -- based on your findings above, what sort of consensus (shallow or deep, narrow or broad) is this speech most likely to generate and why?
SUBSTANCE INDICATOR -- USE YOUR FINDINGS, ABOVE, TO COLOR IN THE THERMOMETER STYLE GRAPH BELOW. (THE MORE SUBSTANTIAL THE SPEECH THE HIGHER THE MERCURY SHOULD BE IN THE THERMOMETER.