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Standards, Policy Paradoxes, and the New Literacy Studies: A Call to Professional Political Action


  • Leslie David Burns


In this commentary, the author uses New Literacy Studies theories to examine the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). Through analysis and critique of the CCSSI and related reform efforts underway in the United States, the author discusses how policy mandates can and have resulted in paradoxes. Corporate discourses of effectiveness and bureaucracy (intentionally or otherwise) undercut the use of research-based knowledge for literacy education reform. Consequently, professional literacy educators are positioned to subordinate themselves in the governance of their own profession despite statements by reform leaders that they must have the autonomy to make expert decisions that help students learn and practice literacy in contemporary society. The author calls for organizations like the International Reading Association to act politically and strategically, create knowledge, mobilize members, and educate stakeholders so that policy reforms become more equitable, just, and successful for the ends they are intended to meet.