Gordon, Stephen, Smyth, John and Diehl, Julie (2008) The Iraq war, “sound science” and “science-based” educational reform: how the Bush Administration uses deception, manipulation and subterfuge to advance its chosen ideology. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 6 (2). ISSN 1740-2743

In this article we describe how the Bush administration has used deceptive techniques and subterfuge to force its ideology upon the American people. We provide examples of similar techniques used to manipulate public opinion and national policy in three broad areas: national defense, science, and education. Our example from national defense policy, as one might guess, relates to the centerpiece of the Bush Administration, the Iraq War, and in particular the gathering and presenting of “evidence” on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to gather public support for the war. The build up to the war provides examples of fabricated evidence, dire warnings, and manipulation of U. S. intelligence agencies, all orchestrated by the White House. The breadth of deception and manipulation of science by the Bush Administration is quite amazing, cutting across policy on endangered species, climate change, reproductive health, stem cell research, dietary science, and environmental pollution. This is a story of suppressing and tampering with scientific findings, intimidating scientists, manipulating the membership of scientific committees, and allowing representatives of industry and social conservative groups to write Administration policies or legislative proposals. We go on to show how many of the same techniques used by the Bush Administration in the build up to the Iraq War and in science have been adapted to control education in the U. S. under the guise of “evidencebased educational reform.” We document Administration efforts to “scrub” educational documents to delete content that does not agree with the Administration’s ideology, promote private management and private schools at the expense of public schools, and force schools to adopt commercial curricula favored by the Administration. Bush’s attempts to control public education are explained by his allegiance to two major constituencies, social conservatives and the corporate sector, and his commitment to what we refer to as neoconservative federalism. We show how these three factors merge as the underlying basis of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and an array of other Administration efforts to control education. In a discussion focused on addressing the abuse of education by the Bush Administration, we suggest questions to critique the Administration’s
“evidence-based” initiatives. We argue that the evidence-based approach is a gross oversimplification and misrepresentation of educational research and authentic educational reform. Finally, we agree with Lather (2003) that the evidence-based approach and other deceptive practices of the Bush administration are part of an effort to take control of public education, and we argue for theory-based research as a vehicle for challenging the evidence-based approach.

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email