1. Ethnography as tracing conversations

    In other words these are future dissertation topics in history, sociology, policy studies, anthropology, etc.

    Given something like NCLB, we must imagine that its beginnings, developments, and then implementation, it required many conversations.  For example:

    1. in Washington:
      1. graphic evocation

        conversations between lobbyists for the test preparation industry and various congressmen.
      2. conversation among congressional staff members on how to deal with the lobbyists
      3. conversations within the federal administration
        1. top to top (Bush with Kennedy)
        2. staff to staff (congressional aide with under-secretaries)
    2. in Albany
    3. in the New York Department of Education
    4. in local schools and classrooms
    5. in professional associations discussing NCLB

    Much of the critical discussion about NCLB has focused on the overall organization of the Act summarized as "an emphasis on testing" and the impact of this emphasis on teachers. But the Act is much more complex.

    But the general NCLB conversations also include a set of sub-conversations that are already themselves a product of the people involved in the original process exploring possibilities opened by, precisely, the Act they were designing. This includes, for our purposes, all the conversations that produce SES as a means of helping "failing children" and "faling schools." And also all the conversations that determine that only some schools are eligible for supplemental services, that produce the methods for identifying schools, and then identify the schools

    1. writing the 'Title' in the NCLB Act
    2. and specifically the criteria for the identification of schools and children
    3. which then produces many conversations given to identifying "Schools in Need of Improvement" at the local level and, further, conversations
      1. making the list
      2. notifying principals
      3. making the list available to the media and the parents
    4. And then dealing with the emerging consequences.

    The question then becomes: what do these people talk about? what forms of speech do they use? when? in what media (very much in the plural: glossy publications, e-mails, phone calls, the web)?

  2. Specifically:

    To talk of conversations "in Washington" is, for course, much too general. We must imagine (investigate) further more localized settings. For example:

    1. in other words, we must also consider a corporation as a web of conversations among different people, under different constraints, and at different times.

      Conversations in the national headquarters of the corporations as they plan
      1. how and whom to lobby;
      2. how to organize themselves given the new federal regulations;
      3. how to approach the various local entities.
    2. graphic evocation

      Conversations with local levels officials.
      1. It would include New York State which, as an SEA, develops the list of approved providers for LEAs.  This list incorporates all types of associations and corporations, some of which get added and later substracted.  This implies renewed conversations between each.
      2. In New York City this would also include the mayor as well as the chancellor (and the conversations they would all have had are different now than they might have been years ago, when the mayor did not have administrative control of the NYC schools (thus "culture"). 
    3. Conversations between administrators of the NYC Department of Education and school principals
    4. Conversations between school principals and particular SES providers.
  3. And so, for example:
    1. an assistant principal and a representative from the corporations:
      Assistant Principal (AP): It’s okay. Don’t worry. The kids will go one hour to Great Works and then your teachers can go into the rooms and teach for an hour for SES.
      Field manager 4 (FM4): But our program runs for two hours ... How can that work?
      AP: Well, we don’t have any more rooms and so that has to happen. Don’t worry. ... we’ll work it out. You can bill for two hours....
      FM4: That is not what was agreed upon during our program planning meeting. You knew our program was a sixty hour program split in to two-hour sessions, not one hour and we are not authorized to have other, non-Strategy staff in our rooms. ...
      AP: Don’t worry. Bill them as usual.
      Koyama (2008: 163)

      Note how, in this conversation, the protagonists index various other conversations held in other webs within which both are caught (arrangement with other programs in the school vs. the legal requirements place by NYC, acting on behalf of NY State, acting on behalf of the Federal Governmen).  Note how the conversation is, also, about how to "pass" as doing what one has been told to do (lying to the panoptic warden?).

    2. Ongoing conversations within the SES providers about how to deal with issues arising:
      General manager (GM): The quiz won’t just be normative. We’ll use it to test them, to evaluate their abilities.
      Trainer I (TRI): But, we didn.t tell them that. It's not ethical.
      GM: Well, we don’t have to tell them it’s evaluative. It’s our test. We can use it for whatever we like.
      Academic manager (AM): If we don’t hire them, we do not need to tell them that it’s because they failed the test.
      Field manager II (FMII): Holy shit. We are testing them and not telling them and then not hiring them. ... Sounds like lawsuit territory, huh?
      Trainer II (TRII): Yeah. Let’s just tell them. Be up front and like say we need to test your skills if you’re going to teach kids.
      TRI: And what are we going to tell the DOE when they ask what qualifications our instructors have? They do ask, you know.
      GM: We don’t want teachers who fail the quiz, so it makes sense that we screen. I’m just not sure how legal it is to use the examination across the board to make decisions.
      (Koyama 2008: 172-173)

and thus ... consequences