This essay explores the nature of standardized curricula and the ideological motivation behind the standards movement, beginning with President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. It focuses on how the standardizing of curricula and the embedded hierarchy of information and knowledge—produced by few and mandated for all—not only reflects a privileged epistemology but does so with the intention of maintaining a social structure that will continue to serve the elite. We address the deskilling of teachers in the K-12 classroom through centralized, mandated curricula as a means of encouraging teachers' complicity in promoting an anti-intellectual, hegemonizing school structure. In particular we examine how the New York City public school teacher is stifled by such an approach to education. In addition to a critique of the standards movement and the bureaucratized, hierarchical approach to schooling, this essay offers an alternative approach. The alternative we suggest focuses attention on the classroom over the district office. It also privileges the wants and needs of the community over those of the corporate economy and its influence on education policy. The teacher in the classroom should have the authority to engage students in a living curriculum that pertains to their daily lives. The community must determine what this curriculum is rather than federal government officials who lack local knowledge.

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