Thomas J. Fasano, Ed.D.

Welcome to my website. Visit the various folios to view courses I teach at St. John's University, as well as research pertaining to my Doctoral Dissertation.



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Policy Paradox


Every day, certainly in my professional experience, decisions must be made. Some are

instantaneous and purely reactionary. Others allow time for contemplation and

collaboration. In either case, each answer or solution presented for each problem being

addressed actually leads to another question that then needs to be answered. The answer

may also have implications for others that need to be explained or justified. In other

words, every movement is like “knocking down a domino.” You had better be prepared

for the “domino effect.” Once that first domino falls, the others will follow. It is an

inevitable part of leadership. Ignoring the impact of decisions or policies can lead to

counter-productive, if not disastrous consequences.

My interpretation of the title of Deborah Stone’s Policy Paradox centers around the

concept that the answers, (policies), provided for any question or problem are paradoxical

in that they truly present more questions or problems to be resolved. Just when you think

you have “solved the problem,” you must realize the implications of the solution upon

others. This is the challenge for any leader.  


Article A            Boyd A. Loving

“Applause for Porter’s Management Style”

Superintendent of Ridgewood Schools is lauded by district resident for acknowledging school’s deficiencies by including the entire student body in his report as opposed to removing special education students, as was his prerogative.  This of course would have made Ridgewood “look better”.

Pg.  116 of Paradox Policy

“A third kind of non-individual harm, one at the heart of the affirmative action conundrum, is harm to a group that results in harm to individuals.  In the polis, people live and work in groups and the effects of injuries to individuals carry over into those groups.” 

This underscores the need for inclusiveness, where the success of the community is interdependent upon the success of each individual member. By including all children in the report of the scores, the entire population of Ridgewood was impacted negatively, despite the fact that it was only a small segment of the population failing to meet the requirements of the legislation. 

According to Stone, “Arguments that remedies for past discrimination should be available only to actual victims but not to other members of the minority group fail to recognize that discrimination against an individual on the basis of group membership inevitably imposes harm on the entire group.”

Article B

“New legislation is ‘unsupportable”       Joseph Vallerini

“This means that all public school students, black or white, rich or poor, gifted or basic skills, fast track or special ed, male of female, immigrant or native- are expected to be educated such that every single school in America will realize complete and total proficiency in its classroom.”

In summary, No Child Left Behind is an unattainable goal.  Through its mandates, it demeans and devalues the professionals in the field regardless of years of experience and by redefining competence.

Pg. 109 of Policy Paradox

 “The dilemma of liberty surfaces in public policy around the question of when government can legitimately interfere with the choices and activities of citizens. When, if ever, should community or social purpose be aloud to trump individual choice?”

 NCLB is interfering with the rights of teachers, students and the community, which it is meant to serve. Students no longer have the ability to offer input into their course of study, which would serve as intrinsic motivation for their learning. Teachers in addition, are also forced to teach to tests driven by state and federal standards. In essence, as Stone points out, individual freedoms of how and what to teach are impinged upon by government interference. The question or paradox therefore is, is NCLB, in attempting to improve education for all, in actuality, a hindrance to it?

 Artlcle C    

 “Keep an eye on No Child Left Behind”        Edith Fulton 

 Edithe Fulton emphasizes the fact that NCLB priorities are political and idealistic, although its intent on the surface appears to be student oriented. In actuality, it insists upon unfunded mandates with inconsistent parameters that even highly regarded districts such as Ridgewood, with indicators of high success, are in “need of improvement.”

 P 128 of Policy Paradox

 These viewpoints correlate to Stone’s two aspects of control:

 “first, the range of issues or problems over which one can exercise control; and second, the resources, both Material and non-material, that enable one to envision alternatives and carry out one’s will.” 

 P 130 Chart (#3) 

 “Liberty is decreased whenever some people are coerced by public policies aimed at creating more equality for others.”

 Article D       “State’s list of failing schools gets longer”    Maia Davis


Article E       DOE Releases List of 271 “Early Warning” High Schools

                          Commissioner Librera

 New Jersey’s public schools, typically renowned for its quality of education, are in danger of being tagged with the label of “failing” under the NCLB legislation. “Of new Jersey’s 361 high schools, 271 are receiving warnings that they must improve by the spring. Some of the very best schools in the state, let alone in the nation, have been identified.”

 Pp 129-130  Policy Paradox

 According to Stone, “the positive concept of liberty links individual and social freedom. Liberty in the negative sense is the absence of coercion by other human beings. A person’s own physical or mental limitations, not to mention the resources and opportunities of family and community are taken as givens, much like the weather.”

 To correlate to Maia Davis, there are students who are limited and therefore in special education programs in New Jersey. Some New Jersey high schools have more special education students than others. Small schools with fewer than the minimum requirement of twenty students for a test to count therefore, are not as accountable as large schools that have more than twenty students in any subgroup.

 Schools feel that they have always recognized the needs of special populations, but in a more realistic way have addressed their learning and progress. If NCLB is going to coerce school districts including students with physical and or mental limitations, and not provide the necessary resources to aid in their success, the legislation, at the very least should be enforced equitably across small and large schools within all states.

 P 130   Policy Paradox

 (chart):  Is there a liberty-equality trade-off?   Yes

 #1. To maintain equality, government has to take away from the better off, thereby restraining their liberty.

 #3. Liberty is decreased whenever some people are coerced by public policies aimed at creating more equality for others.

 Article F     “No Child Left Behind turns Progress to Punishment”

 Twenty-five years ago, in an effort to integrate and have school environments that are more diversified, bussing policies were enacted. At the time, this appeared to be a worthwhile endeavor. However, under NCLB, these same districts are experiencing difficulty in meeting the many requirements and standards of the legislation. This is because these diversified schools contain a vast number of subgroups in which any one of them could identify the school as under academic review or failing. Had the rezoning not occurred, fewer subgroups would have developed. Here is the paradox.

 P129 Policy Paradox

 “Power, wealth, and knowledge are thus prerequisites to liberty in the positive view, because they are sources of capacity to exercise choice. Liberty in this view is a matter of degree: those with more power, wealth, and knowledge have more freedom than those with less. In the negative view, by contrast, liberty is often treated as an all-or-nothing concept. It is imagined as a space or territory within which the individual resides and around which there is a fence to prevent intrusion.”

 Had the boundaries within the Delaware school district not be realigned, the mandates of NCLB would be easier met.  Unfortunately discussions such as these regarding loopholes or luck to be in compliance appear to be the center of discussion as opposed to what can be done now by all school districts to maintain high standards while at the same time, realistically, meeting the needs of all of its students.  If  we can and are expected to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of students, why can’t we exercise liberty within each school to meet its needs as an individual school?  Too much of NCLB seems to be “an all or nothing” negative approach.


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Last Modified : 03/24/12 08:16 AM
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