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Obama’s American Graduation Initiative: Race, Conservative Modernization, and a Logic of Abstraction

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 86, No. 5

Aaron M. Kuntz, University of Alabama
Ryan Evely Gildersleeve, The University of Texas at Arlington
Penny A. Pasque, University of Oklahoma

The American Graduation Initiative stands as the cornerstone of the Obama administrations higher education agenda. To investigate the state of the politics of education in the Age of Obama, this article employs critical discourse analysis to unveil the hidden meanings and ideological commitments inherent in Obama's policy discourse. Read within and against the backdrop of what Apple (2006) called the era of conservative modernization, Obama's policy discourse relies on a logic of abstraction that serves to promote a falsely "postracial" society in which hegemonic notions of education are perpetuated.

Aaron M. Kuntz is Assistant Professor of Qualitative Research Methods at the University of Alabama. His research interests include critical geography, academic citizenship and activism, materialist methodologies, and critical inquiry.

Ryan Everly Gildersleeve is Associate Professor of K-16 Education and Director of the Center for K-16 Education Policy and Research at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research investigates the social and political contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized communities. He is the author of Fracturing Opportunity (Peter Lang, 2010), an investigation of Mexican migrant students' college access. Gildersleeve is a graduate of Occidental College.

Penny A. Pasque is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her research addresses in/equities in higher education, dis/connections between higher education and society, and complexities in critical inquiry. Her latest book is American Higher Education, Leadership, and Policy: Critical Issues and the Public Good (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).