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John Maynard Keynes in Modern Macroeconomics Education

January 14th, 2011 Comments off

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It is of interesting note that Paul Krugman and Paul Samuelson, in their dismissal of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The New Industrial State, mentioned that Galbraith was a talented writer (Duhs, 2009, p123). Perhaps it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that such a comment was motivated by the fact that both Krugman and Samuelson were Keynesians. John Maynard Keynes was not known for being an easy read, with scholars and economists alike criticizing The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money for its complex writing despite its largely practical nature. Keynes, whose fame peaked with the publication of The General Theory heralded some sort of revolution in the economics of the late 1930s. The General Theory created a change in the way governments handled the recessions of a post-Depression era. Once economies were lifted out of depressions, Keynesian policies gradually disappeared and in the 1970s were mostly displaced by Milton Friedman’s monetarism (Stewart, 1993). Keynes may have lost his popularity towards the end of the 20th century, but he returned to attention recently in light of the global financial crisis. Seeing as long after his death Keynes remains a big name in economics, it is only natural then to expect his teachings introduced in a standard macroeconomic course. Hence this essay will examine the content of textbook macroeconomics and how much of it agrees with the economics of Keynes, primarily through the analysis of introductory macroeconomics textbooks.

Looking at the history of Macroeconomics textbooks, we can see that Keynesian economics began to saturate economics textbooks since as early as the 1940s. A study of Paul Samuelson’s Economics shows that Keynesian economics was gradually assimilated into mainstream economics syllabus, starting with its first edition which was loosely structured around Keynes’s concepts. Samuelson’s text was the principle introductory economics textbook of the USA and today it is built around ideas from The General Theory alongside other relatively recent economic concepts such as the Phillip’s Curve. Pearce and Hoover (2005, p186) additionally notes that today’s macroeconomics textbooks are mostly Keynesian. However, it is worth mentioning that most textbook Keynesian economics are not necessarily teachings of Keynes but rather other economist’s interpretations or understanding of Keynes. There exists a difference between (as Alex Leojohnhufvud famously put it) “Keynesian Economics and the Economics of Keynes” (Garrison, 1994). Colander observes that textbook Keynesian policies were not exactly Keynes but rather Abba Lerner’s interpretation of Keynes while Caporaso and Levine (1992, p101) notes that economists such as textbook writer Samuelson placed Keynesian ideas into a neoclassically inspired framework. The latter supports the notion put forward by Littleboy that textbook writers merely picked up bits of Keynes that fit into its neoclassical vision.

Things take a fascinating turn when the discord between Keynes’s own teachings and textbook macroeconomics are made visible. A quick review of standard macroeconomics textbooks is sufficient to show that Keynes was not purely “watered down” or “bastardized” as claimed by some economists, but rather eliminated completely in certain crucial parts. The most obvious would be the lack of the political side of Keynes due to the textbook writer’s pursuit of the measurable and results-oriented components of Keynesian economics. Keynes did not trust the market system to perform satisfactorily on its own, and this forms a core section of Keynesian economics. Sharing a similar opinion with Karl Marx (who is completely absent from most modern macroeconomics textbooks), Keynes denied the ability of the market to keep a steady rate of employment and production. However, Marx went on to claim that the free market system is “violently unstable”, a thought that Keynes disagreed upon (Caporaso Levine, 1992, p101-2).

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John Maynard Keynes in Modern Macroeconomics Education (Part 2)

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According to Keynes, too often has Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” been let off with a slap on the wrist despite its ineffectiveness in keeping economies above water and this forms the basis as to why Keynes sees the need for some form of government intervention. Keynes’s pessimism regarding markets was never taken seriously by textbooks, with most writers attributing it to the turbulent period he lived in.

One particularly big predicament for Keynes was the development of the private corporation. A part which the standard macroeconomics textbook fails to give coverage on, the private corporation is to Keynes the cause of faults in the financial market. The distribution of shares as a method enabling individuals to hold wealth in a liquid form generated instability in the accumulation of wealth. Caporaso and Levine (1992, p110) observe that this makes long run commitment to a particular productive enterprise no longer compulsory and places a premium on short term capital gains. As Keynes (1936, p156) put it, those who profit from this are those who best forecast “what the average opinion expects the average opinion to be” a short time ahead of the general public. This in turn encourages speculative activities and in the end results in price instability. Keynes (1936, p159) likens these investors to gamblers, stating that “when the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done”. Keynes advocates share market transaction taxes in order to solve this problem. Simply put, the ultra-short term nature of financial market exchanges would be heavily dampened by a tax that is capable of raising transaction costs. This shifts investor perspectives away from the short run side of the spectrum and reigns in the pace of transactions. This reform along with Keynes’s proposal for an International Clearing Union was never mentioned in textbooks, possibly for their radical nature.

Taking things a little further, it is perhaps fair to say that Keynes would not agree to the content of today’s macroeconomics textbook even if they are based on derivations of his concept. Firstly, the way in which textbooks today present content can best be portrayed as being of mainly mathematical and diagrammatical manner. Today’s textbooks are neoclassical, combining Keynesian theory and classical theory. Macroeconomics textbooks take an engineering approach at seeing the world, resulting in society being projected as a highly mechanized structure to ruling technocrats. This is much in line with the Benthamite movement where society’s utility is given a value and governmental decisions are made to maximize collective utility. On the other hand, we have Keynes who was not just an economist, but was additionally a social reformer and a philosopher. He had a more earthly view of the world and concedes that uncertainty remains an integral part in everyday life. He took note of the way people discount what they don’t know from making future decisions, and how this posed a flaw in the decision-making process. Then there is also the concept of “animal spirits” where Keynes believed people are often governed by their whims and fancies rather than cost-benefit calculation. This is perhaps consistent with his personal life in which he was known to enjoy artwork, have affairs with men, and finally marry a famous ballerina. This quirky side of Keynes contrasts sharply from the rigid economics of textbooks.

In the end, Keynes’s writings and beliefs were to guide people towards what he thought would be an ideal state of society. Before The General Theory, he wrote Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren in 1930 which dealt with the potential of future living conditions and society.

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John Maynard Keynes in Modern Macroeconomics Education (Part 3)

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Ohanian (2008, p10-11) notes that Keynes’s 100 year prediction was highly accurate despite the lack of empirical record and insufficient theory at the time he wrote the essay. Keynes wanted a society where production was no longer a problem and there was equal choice for everyone. To put it simply, all wants can be satisfied due to increasing productivity from constant technological progress. Keynes even forecasted that eventually society will reach a point where too much leisure becomes a problem. Ohanian states that Keynes’s forecast of dramatically decreasing work hours in the future was near to that predicted by a modern growth model, and this was a stunning achievement for his time period. However, his prediction of the future state of leisure is still very far off the mark and for the time being does not seem very likely.

Keynes was no doubt a brilliant contributor to economics, and one that was far ahead of his time. The oversimplification and exclusion of much of his work in textbooks could be seen as insulting by some scholars, but perhaps it is of necessity to the technocratic age that we live in. In an era where the focus on results and technology dominate the analytical process, it is most probably best if the neoclassical vision of textbooks remained for the time being. In conclusion, it can be said that the content of macroeconomics textbooks does leave a lot to be desired particularly when it comes to Keynes and in general, the political economy. By reducing macroeconomics to mainly calculations and forecasts to maximize wellbeing, the more thoughtful and challenging side of economics has been left out. If prior to Keynes textbooks were planned around Adam Smith’s teachings, it would be very interesting to know which economist would be the next to mark a revolution in macroeconomics education.

(approximately 1480 words)

References

Duhs, A. 2009. “Course Notes”, Political Economy and Comparative Systems, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia.

Garrison, R. W. 1994. “Keynes was a Keynesian”, The Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 9 No.1, pp. 165-171.

Littleboy, B, Taylor, J. 2006. “Macroeconomics 3rd Edition”, John Wiley Sons Australia, Queensland.

Littleboy, B. 2009. “Commentary on Keynes”, The University of Queensland.

Ohanian, L. E. 2008. “Back to the Future with Keynes”, Federal Reserve Bank of

Minneapolis Quarterly Review, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 10–16.

Pearce, K. A, Hoover, K. D. 2005. “After The Revolution: Paul Samuelson and the Textbook

Keynesian Model”, History of Political Economy, Vol. 27, pp. 183-216.

Stewart, M. 1993. “Keynes in the 1990s”. Penguin Books, Middlesex, England.

Taylor, H. 1936. “Mr. Keynes’s General Theory”, New Republic 86 (April 29): 349

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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

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Although education is traditionally a state and local responsibility, the federal government first became involved with its policies in the mid-1960’s and remains an active component even today, thus giving way to a presidential proposal entitled “No Child Left Behind” in 2001. Up until this bill proposal, Washington had spent nearly $130 billion since 1965 and more than $80 billion in the past decade alone in an unsuccessful effort to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers (see “Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability”). A recent study by the American Legislative Exchange Council demonstrated that while per pupil expenditures had increased nationwide by 22. 8% over the past twenty years, little improvement has been made towards equity of education. From this data, it becomes clear that money is alone will not increase achievement, programs must be held accountable to obtain the desired results (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability”). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as proposed by President George W. Bush was designed to reduce bureaucracy, provide additional flexibility to states and school districts to “tailor spending to programs that meet the unique needs of students and eliminate programs that divert resources from school. ” (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap”), and to allow local school districts to transfer up to fifty percent of federal education dollars they receive as long as they demonstrate results in an effort to cut “red tape. ” According to a summary issued by the House Education and Workforce Committee, H. R. 1 (the No Child Left Behind Act) was designed to establish a comprehensive accountability system, asking states to build on their existing assessment tests by designing and implementing annual math and reading tests for students in grades three through eight with an amount of federal money designated to redesign tests already in place. Additionally, this act requires that school districts annually report to the public on academic performance as measured by these assessment tests in each school of their jurisdiction, providing information on how students are doing in comparison to those in other schools in the district and across the state, graduate raters, and teacher qualifications to assist parents in judging how their local school stacks up against others statewide. If a low performing school as defined by the state does not make adequate yearly progress after three years of poor testing, students in the failing school are eligible to receive a scholarship for outside private tutoring to transfer to another public school (“H. R. 1, Questions and Answers. ”). States that also fail to show adequate yearly progress will additionally be subject to losing a portion of their administrative funds. Thus, according to the issue summary “By establishing a system of rewards and sanctions for states and school districts to hold them accountable for increasing student achievement, H. R. 1 would, for the first time, demand real from public schools that receive federal education resources,” (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap”).

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The conception of and pathways utilized by implementing major legislation, one may assume, are labored over desktops in an intellectual public spectacle of a congress chamber; however, one may have never guessed that in reality the key principals of H. R. 1 were first discussed hundreds of miles outside of Washington in an Austin, Texas meeting room, when the President-elect, George W. Bush, invited members of both parties to discuss education reform, a prominent item at the top of his agenda (Lara). Moving away from traditional lawmaking and into a new era of “unorthodox lawmaking” as coined by Barbara Sinclair, the United States government is increasingly establishing foundations for, and resolving disputes on legislation in less formal settings. A statement given to the House floor by John Boehner, further affirms the existence of these surreptitious actions in stating “This process began last December – before President Bush was technically even “President Bush,” (Lara). Although this December 2000 meeting laid the groundwork for the President’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation, two key congressmen, George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education Committee, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Austin) were left out of the proceedings, both of whom would later become significant components in the passage of this bill.

The results from this initial furtive meeting and many others materialized in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 22, 2001 when Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio introduced H. R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by simply dropping the bill into the “hopper” (Austin). Opening with a broad statement of purpose for this legislation, Mr. Boehner articulated a comprehensive legislation which served to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 under the terms specified by President George W. Bush. Also a noteworthy element of his opening speech included ensuring a definitive goal designed by the legislation to, “In short: H. R. 1 will give students a chance, parents a choice, and schools a charge to be the best in the world,” (Boehner). Following the introduction of this bill sponsored by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner and seventy original co-sponsors (Feehery) to the House of Representatives, House rules require that the piece of legislation be assigned a number and referred to a committee with appropriate jurisdiction. As announced on March 22, 2001, the date of legislative introduction, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert stated, “I reserve H. R. 1 for the President’s education proposal because I believe that improving our schools should be a top priority for this Congress. ” (Feehery 1). The following day, as described by Sinclair, the parliamentarian determined a referral for the newly named H. R. 1 to committee under the supervision of the Speaker. In most instances, these bipartisan committees which take on a particular bill act as the primary “shapers” of the assigned legislation, thus placing a relatively high degree of importance on which committee(s) receives the bill upon its final legislative outcome. Rather than being sent to one committee in each chamber, many measures in the House, including H. R. 1 of the 107th Congress was considered by several committees sequentially.

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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 2)

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In 1975 the House implemented a policy which permitted referral of legislation to more than one committee, either to be examined by two or more committees at once or in a sequential manner, as a result of increasingly complex legislation being proposed which no longer fit neatly into a single committee’s jurisdiction. However, as portrayed in Sinclair’s examination of the legislative process, sequential referrals are no longer common following a 1995 rule, providing an example where H. R. 1 reverted back to a traditional process against the new legislative process featured in Sinclair’s Unorthodox Lawmaking. The first committee in which H. R. 1 received an assignment to was the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and it consequently, had the largest legislative role over other committees of referral. Once assignment has been received, a full committee will most often hold hearings, inviting interested people to testify in person about the issue and proposals to deal with it, as did the House Committee on Education and Workforce with the consideration of H. R. 1 on March 29, 2001 entitled “Transforming the Federal Role in Education for the 21st Century” with a witness list including Mr. Keith E. Bailey, Chair, President, and CEO of Business Coalition for Excellence in Education among others (“Transforming Federal Role in Education for the 21st Century”). Once such hearings have concluded and a subcommittee decides to act on the bill at hand, this legislative body marks it up, drafting it line by line, and reports this to the full committee, which then can accept, reject, or amend the bill. H. R. 1 as approved by voice vote on May 8th as the markup opened May 2nd by subcommittee, created a division among party lines. While Republican conservatives complained of alterations in the legislation departing from the President’s original proposition, Committee Chairman and Sponsor of the legislation, John Boehner agreed to a dramatic increase in authorizing funding for education and toned down a GOP “Straight A’s” proposal that would have let states spend federal funds for nearly any educational purpose as long as these measures achieved better academic results. Frequently in the new legislative process, Sinclair suggests, that after a bill has been reported out but before it reaches the floor, major changes have been worked out through informal procedures, such as was the case of the “Straight A’s” provision in which President Bush assured DeMint, supporter of the provision, that he was “looking at a different strategy to accomplish this,” after its specifications had been removed from subcommittee markup (Austin). Subsequent to surviving markup, one of the few remaining conservative proposals which involved private school vouchers had been stripped from the measure by a 27-2 vote as sponsored by Rep. George Miller within just a few hours of approval. The full committee of House Education and Workforce accepted these modifications and others on May 9th by a reported vote of 41-7 in a delicate compromise worked out by Boehner and Miller (Austin 8-5) with major provisions including an authorization of $400 million to help states design and administer annual tests (“House Approves Landmark Education Reforms”). From here, the adapted H. R. 1 was referred sequentially to the House Committee on Judiciary on May 14, 2001 under specification that the committee must report within one day’s time or face automatic discharge, which is exactly what happened on May 15, 2001 at 4:43pm as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was placed on the Union Calendar No. 38.

As per the basic structure of lawmaking in the House, majority party leadership schedules legislation for floor debate at the bottom of the Union calendar in the instance of major legislation. Sinclair argues however that the House has developed alternate methods of getting legislation to the floor to provide needed flexibility. “The primary ways of bringing legislation to the floor are through suspension of the rules and through special rules from the Rules Committee, both procedures that the majority party leadership controls,”(Sinclair 20), an action which allowed H. R. 1 to be brought to the forefront of House legislative activity during the spring of 2001. The Rules Committee in this instance allowed the measure to be taken out of order as cited in a statement known as a House Resolution, which also set the terms for the floor’s consideration, including how much time was designated for general debate, two hours, issued May 16, 2001 at 11:33pm. Additionally the rule may restrict amendments, waive points of order against what would otherwise be violations of House rules in legislation, and outline other special provisions to govern floor consideration. A restriction on amendments in H. R. 1 in the form of a modified closed rule as implemented in the House Resolution permits only amendments enumerated in the Rules Committee report to be offered (“House Rpt. 107-069: Providing for the Consideration of H. R. 1 The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001”) and falls in line with contemporary House measures which typically are somewhat restrictive to save time, prevent obstructionism, and eliminate uncertainty.

On May 17th, a majority of the full membership of the House approved the resolution specified by the Rules Committee and, thereby, resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole, a legislative body made up of every House member, but with more streamlined rules and quorum of one hundred where debate and amendment of the legislation takes place.

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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 3)

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In this setting, a member was recognized to speak for only five minutes with debate equally divided between the proponents and opponents of the bill and controlled by a presiding officer chosen by the Speaker. On May 17, 2001 the Speaker designated the Honorable Doc Hastings as this such presiding officer, and the majority floor manager, John A. Boehner, opened with a prepared statement detailing the purpose of the legislation. Overall throughout these proceedings, twenty-seven amendments were introduced off of the Rules Committee report, five of which failed by record vote, twelve passed by voice vote, and ten passed by record vote. Voice votes in this legislative process most often occur when a floor manager has no objections to the amendment, while a controversial vote will be conducted under recorded vote to obtain a precise ruling. The amendments as introduced to the floor were relatively narrow, contradicting the statement that more often in modern politics to obtain a particular outcome “[A] rule gives members a choice among comprehensive substitutes but bars votes on narrow amendments, to focus the debate on alternative approaches, on the big choices rather than the picky details,” (Sinclair 24). The most difficult challenge presented to the legislation occurred when Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra attempted to expunge annual testing from the bill, and although receiving heavy support from conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the amendment was ultimately rejected as defeat was blamed on intense lobbying by White House officials in another behind-the-scenes maneuver similar to those mentioned prior (Austin). After general debate and amending have been resolved, the Committee of the Whole rises and reports back to the house, where amendments must again be voted on and approved by the House. At this stage, on May 23, 2001, Representative Owens moved to recommit the amended bill with instructions to the Education and Labor Committee in an effort to add money to renovate schools and reduce class size by hiring more teachers, but this proposal was rejected (Austin). The final version of H. R. 1 was passed by a recorded vote of 384-45 on May 23, 2001 with a total of thirty-four Republicans, ten Democrats, and one Independent voting against the package. Once the legislation was passed, a motion to reconsider was made and laid upon the table on May 23rd at 7:24pm to ensure that the issue could not be reopened, and from here, the legislation was then sent to the Senate.

On May 25, 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was received in Senate, read twice, and placed on the Senate Legislation Calendar under General Orders. The Majority leader, by motion as specified by Sinclair, removed the legislation to be considered from the calendar, and the measure was laid before the Senate floor on June 14, 2001. In this instance, legislation reported by the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions had already approved a seven year reauthorization bill (S1-S. Rept. 107-7) in committee which had included Bush’s provisions to test students in grades three through eight in reading and math, a companion to the House-passed bill H. R. 1 and thus allowed for bypass of committee referral, a frequent method of bringing legislation forward more quickly according to Sinclair’s description of the new legislative process. However, the modified measures essential to S. 1 as reported out of committee were not exactly congruent to H. R. 1 as sent out by the House, and therefore, many provisions were made to the House-born bill before full Senate approval could be accomplished. According to Austin, “despite bipartisan spirit, sharp differences emerged between Democrats and Republicans over how much leeway to give states in spending federal money and how many federal education programs should be consolidated,” (8 -3) both important discrepancies that surfaced between the Senate and House version of this bill. During the period in which the bill was being debated on the Senate floor, Senator James Vermont, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the measure’s flood manager, quit the Republican party and thus shift control in the Senate to the Democrats and making Senator Edward Kennedy the new chairman (Austin). As a result of anticipation by Bush and congressional Republicans of a hard fought series of negotiations following this transition in majority leadership, the administration “opened a back channel” and ranking Republican Senators began meeting with centrist Democrats including Joseph Lieberman and Evan Bayh, yet another example of secretive negotiations that have increased in frequency in recent congresses (Austin). After approximately six weeks of floor debate, the Senate passed the No Child Left Behind legislation on June 14, 2001 by a vote of 91-8 after submitting the amended version for its own bill. Five days later, the measure was amended by the Senate by unanimous consent based on the principle that the Senate is not a majority-rule chamber like the House after passage. No holds as an obstacle frequently utilized by a more modern political process as described by Sinclair were enacted, and thus, the Senate was able to do this act of business as with many others by unanimous consent, “both an acknowledgement and an augmentation of the power of senators as individuals” as determined by Sinclair (45). As in this case, unanimous consent agreements have become increasingly individualized pertaining to a specific bill to accommodate individual senator’s demands in the modernized legislative process. Also according to Sinclair, major legislation is particularly likely to encounter an extended debate-related problem, such as a hold or filibuster, in recent decades; however, this did not occur with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Additionally, it is proposed in Unorthodox Lawmaking that in major legislation, a high number of amendments are introduced and voted on by the recorded method, although such actions did not occur in this bill.

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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 4)

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After the bill had been drafted and approved, a conference was requested with appointments of conferees Kennedy, Dodd, Harkin, Mikulski, Jeffords, Bingaman, Wellstone, Murray, Reed, Edwards, Clinton, Lieberman, Bayhn, Gregg, Frist, Enzi, Hutchison, Warner, Bond, Roberts, Collins, Sessions, DeWine, Allard and Ensign, and this message on Senate action was sent to the House on July 11, 2001.

On July 18, 2001, Sponsor and Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, moved and was later approved 424-5 that the House disagree to the amendment placed on H. R. 1 and thus, a conference was organized. The Speaker of the House appointed conferees for consideration of the house bill and Senate amendment, and modifications committed to conference who included Boehner, Petri, Roukema, McKeon, Castle, Graham, Hilleary, Isakson, Miller, George, Kildee, Owens, Mink, Andrews, and Roemer on the afternoon of July 18th. Between July 19 and December 11, a series of conference meetings were held to reconcile the different bills produced in each chamber. Neither version of the bill as passed would have worked in the current political and education situation, as according to the Congressional Research Service, the Senate passed version would have deemed every school in both North Carolina and Texas a failure and subject to reorganization (Austin). As a result of this complication and based on the fact that while the Senate had voted to significantly increase the overall number of ESEA programs from fifty-five to eighty-none, the House passed version would have streamlined the overall number to forty-seven (“House-Senate Education Conference Approves President’s Reading Initiatives”), instead of melding the two agreements, the conferees were given the task of devising a new one. This particular conference worked in subconferences consisting of a small group of both House and Senate Republican and Democrat members, as specified in Sinclair’s description, due to the unwieldingness of such a large overall conference. By November 30, both houses had worked out all the major issues in dealing with testing, accountability, and financing, but had been encumbered with a small point. Conducted behind the scenes deep within the Capitol building as means of avoiding regulations specified by the Sunshine rules, enigmatic negotiations took place between conference leaders as does often occur when a stalemate often requires leadership intervention in modern politics described by Sinclair. On December 11, 2001, the conferees finally agreed to file the conference report, and two days later, the House passed agreed with the modified bill by a recorded vote of 381-41. The conference report was next considered in the Senate by Unanimous Consent on December 17, 2001 and was agreed to by a Yea-Nay vote of 87-10 the following day.

On January 8, 2002 H. R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was signed into Public Law No. 107-110 by President George W. Bush in a ceremony in Hamilton, Ohio, the home district of Sponsor Rep. Boehner with the four principal negotiators Boehner, Miller, Gregg, and Kennedy on hand. “I decided to sign this bill in one of the most important places in America – a public school,” stated President Bush, pen in hand, “Today beings a new era, a new time for public education in our country. Our schools will have higher expectations – we believe every child can learn. From this day forward, all students will have a better chance to learn, to excel, and to live out their dreams,” (President Bush Signs Landmark Education Reforms into Law”).

Many of the modern lawmaking principles described in Barbara Sinclair’s Unorthodox Lawmaking were evident in the amendment and passage of H. R. 1; however, I feel that my case is a poor example of the new legislative process. Because the Senate is considerably smaller in membership, its less hierarchical and less formal nature, lending individuals great power was evident in this piece of legislation, but there were no threats of hold or filibuster, common obstacles in modern congresses. A sequential committee referral in the House rather than a simple designation of primary committee also diverged from Sinclair’s explanation of current politics. In the Senate, very few amendments were made to their version of the bill, and I did not encounter any queen or king of the hill provisions, and I found no instance of self-executing rule in the House.

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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 5)

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These elements of lawmaking in addition to others previously mentioned provide evidence that although the procedure implemented in the passage of H. R. 1 was that of a modern Congress, it did not fit much of the specific criteria outlined by Barbara Sinclair for her new legislative process.

Works Cited

Austin, Jan, ed. Congressional Quarterly Almanac Plus. Vol. LVII 2001. Washington, D. C. Congressional Quarterly,

Inc. 2002

Boehner, John “Is School Choice the Best Solution to Our K-12 Education Problems? We Must Close Achievement

Gap. ” Roll Call. 26 Feb. 2001. Academic Universe. Lexis-Nexis. University of North Carolina Lib. Chapel Hill. 20

Nov. 2004 <http://www. lexis-nexis. com>

Broder, David S. “Long Road to Reform; Negotiators Forge Education Legislation. ” The Washington Post 17 Dec. 2001,

(Washington, D. C. A-1. Academic Universe. Lexis-Nexis. University of North Carolina Lib. Chapel Hill. 20 Nov.

2004 <http://www. lexis-nexis. com>

Feehery, John and Pete Jeffries, “House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) Endorses President’s Education Proposal. ”

Speaker’s Press Office. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004 <http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/first032201. htm>

“House-Senate Education Conference Approves President’s Reading Initiatives, Other Aggreements. ” News from the

Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

<http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107th/hr1agreements92501. htm>

“H. R. 1, No Child Left Behind: Questions and Answers. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov. 2004.

<http://edworkforce. house. gov>

“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov. 2004.

<http://edworkforce. house. gov>

“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap. ” House Education and the Workforce Committee. 22 Nov.

2004. <http://edworkforce. house. gov>

Lara, Dan and Dave Schnittger. “Boehner Praises Education Reforms in H. R. 1 as Education Debate Begins on House

Floor. ” News from the Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

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Schnittger, Dave and Heather Valentine. “House Approves Landmark Education Reforms: No Child Left Behind

Measure ready for Senate Passage, Then President’s Signature. ” News from the Committee on Education and the

Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004 <http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/confrepthousepass121301. htm>

Schnittger, Dave and Heather Valentine. “President Bush Signs Landmark Education Reforms into Law. ” News from the

Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2002. 22 Nov. 2004

<http://edworkforce. house. gov/press/press107/hr1signing10802. htm>

Sinclair, Barbara. Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Process in the U. S. Congress. Washington, D. C. CQ Press.

“Transforming Federal Role in Education for the 21st Century: Hearing on H. R. 1, H. R. 340, and H. R. 345. ” News from

the Committee on Education and the Workforce. 2001. 22 Nov. 2004

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Basic Primer for the Therapeutic Uses of Literature (aka. Bibliotherapy) for Children and Adolescents

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And shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tale which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot. Anything received into the mind at this age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts.                                                                                           

(Plato, 374 B. C. p. 72)

            The idea that books affect people in profound ways has been around for a very long time.   The written word has been honored to point of near worship in its abilities to educate, entertain and transform their readers.   Stories told and stories read have the power to touch us in ways to numerous too list.    Books can entertain and educate.   Books can also heal the soul, promote personal growth and shine a light on those who may have lost their way in life.   It is no surprise then that the field of psychology and the professionals that serve this science have embraced its strength.   The general concept of using literature as a therapeutic tool has been around in one form or another since the earliest thinkers wisely recognized the power wielded by mere words.   This idea was given a modern scientific-credibility boost when Samuel Crothers first coined the term bibliotherapy in a 1916 issue of Atlantic Monthly.   Today, bibliotherapy can be broken into two distinct methodologies:  one in which stories are read and the other in which stories are told.   Mental health professionals who work with children and adolescents frequently use a form of bibliotherapy where no books are used.   A child is first asked to invent a story, create characters and formulate plots that please them. Because of the child’s youth, the story is often a conduit that reaches directly into his/her subconscious mind. The therapist then carefully examines the story and looks for issues that relate to conflicts occurring in the child’s life.     The professional then retells the story, often reframing it just a bit, so that a stronger, more healthy method of coping is demonstrated by the characters or expressed through the plot.   In child psychotherapy, this is a time-honored practice and is commonly called reciprocal story telling.   The other form of bibliotherapy assumes that good literature, when read, can offer the reader both conscious and subconscious insights into their own conflicts and issues.   While reading there is no face-to-face confrontation, there is no psychobabble interpretation to wade through.   Both factors contribute to an environment where issues are more easily processed and reconciled.   There is a large list of benefits that individuals may reap when reading selections of written works that relate to, mime or incorporate the struggles that currently occupy a person’s life.   These two types of bibliotherapy are used to effect positive changes in a child’s, adolescent’s or adult’s life.   These methods are used by a variety of different individuals, covering subject matter that is huge in its scope, and bring as a result, a rich list of potential benefits.

–more–>

Stories Without Books

Books are masters who instruct us without rods or ferules,
without words or anger, without bread or money.
If you approach them, they are not asleep; if you seek them,
they do not hide; if you blunder, they do not scold;
if you are ignorant, they do not laugh at you.

~ Richard De Bury 1286 to 1345

             As the title of this section suggests, bibliotherapy does not always include books.   This form of therapy, commonly referred to as reciprocal story telling, most often involves professionals in the mental health field.   The therapist begins by soliciting a story from the child-patient.   Because children lack the mental maturity that serves to moderate and regulate the subconscious mind, these stories often provide a valuable look into the issues and concerns that have been hidden away in their young brain.   Stories, through the use of metaphors, can store a cash of valuable information that the patient may be unable to express in any other way because he/she lacks the vocabulary or insight that comes with more maturity.   The younger the child, the more likely the story will reflect free flowing concerns or ideas generated from the subconscious mind.    This technique is used with patients ranging in age from 3 to 15 with the median age being 6 to 12.   To understand how this process works is no easy task!   It will help to combine references to theory and studies, then blending that with an individual case history.   To truly grasp this concept is far beyond the scope of this paper.   I am hoping only to provide a simple introduction that might serve as a springboard for further thought on the process.  

A Study from the 1930’s

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen
from one to another mind.

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Basic Primer for the Therapeutic Uses of Literature (aka. Bibliotherapy) for Children and Adolescents (Part 2)

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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~ James Russell Lowell 
1819-1891

            A study conducted by Louise Despert and H. W. Potter in 1936 offered several conclusions after working with twenty-two institutionalized children ranging in age from four to thirteen.

· The story is a form of verbalized fantasy through which the child may reveal his or her inner drives and conflicts.

· A recurring theme generally indicates the principal concern or conflict, which in turn may be corroborated with other clinical evidence.

· Anxiety, guilt, wish fulfillment, and aggressiveness are the primary trends expressed.

· The use of the stories appears to be most valuable when the child determines the subject matter of his or her own story.

· The story can be used as both a therapeutic and an evaluation device.

            These generalizations are still viewed as valid today.   From this early study and others like it, the uses of reciprocal storytelling has continued and flourished to the point where it is considered a valuable professional tool.   Free flowing ideas coming from a child’s subconscious mind, in the form of a story, often provides the mirror that can reflect the complexity of a life that the child can barely begin to grasp.   Essential information is often garnered from this glimpse into the inner world of the troubled child.

The Use of Props

The books we read should be chosen with great care,
that they may be, as an Egyptian king wrote over his library,
"The medicines of the soul. "

             Younger children, whose expression is limited by verbal abilities, may use props to enhance their stories.   These props often include items such as dolls, puppets or crayons. Gardner commented on the use of these devises when he said, “Although drawings, dolls, puppets and other toys are the modalities around which stories are traditionally told in child therapy, these often have the effect of restricting the child’s storytelling or of channeling it in highly specific directions. ”  (p 25)  In contrast Brandell cites numerous sources that have used adjuncts, such as puppetry, finger painting, drawing, costume play, clay modeling and doll play with success. (p 4).    Brandell does qualify the use of play techniques with the statement that “ at times, the traditional therapeutic play modalities simply cannot provide the child clinician either with sufficient, dynamically meaningful information about the child or with an effective vehicle for conveying both therapeutic understanding of the child’s narrative and therapeutic communications of a more specific nature.   “Accordingly, children’s autogenic stories have long been recognized as an important source of clinical data. ”  (p 86)  Toys are used alone in play therapy but are merely an adjunct when used in conjunction with stories made up by the child-patient.   In the end, it is the story that provides the rich store of potential information and the props merely a means to that end.    

In child therapy the conduit created for these stories to flow through is safe.   Because the child feels safe his ability to express disturbing wishes, fears and conflicts become less encumbered.   The subconscious narration takes form through metaphor.   This metaphorical story now gives the therapist a rich volume of information to utilize when helping his patient to move towards stronger mental health.   Play therapy also engages in the use of props and toys.   Many of the toys are specially designed to be flexible enough to allow the child’s play to take many different forms.   In this environment it is not necessary to solicit a story of make believe to accomplish therapeutic goals.   When props are used there is a thin line between play therapy and reciprocal storytelling.   Knowing when one begins and the other ends would be difficult to clearly define, however, it is easy to see how one can bleed into the other!  

            The problems that affect children are often common with those that afflict adults.   Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive behavior can be explored using reciprocal storytelling.   Occasionally the after effects of emotional neglect and physical and/or sexual abuse is exposed.   But topping the list of those situations that are most effectively treated by this type of therapy are those children troubled by environmental causes such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or serious illness.  

An Example of Reciprocal Storytelling

Storytelling reveals meaning without

committing the error of defining it.


~ Hanna Arendt ~

1906 1975

            Dr. Richard Gardner uses case histories to illustrate and help therapists learn to ply their talents.   By Dr. Gardner’s own admission the soliciting and the evaluation of stories is “is not an easy technique to learn.   Proficiency may require months and even years of practice. ”  From the narrative the practitioner must tease out the ideas, emotions and issues that are being brought forward from the child’s subconscious mind.   Case histories can help fill the gap that the lack of experience creates.   To learn vicariously through an accomplished therapist is one way to understand how reciprocal storytelling works.

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