THE NORMALIZATION OF SCHOOL FUNDRAISING IN ONTARIO: AN ARGUMENTATIVE DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
Fundraising is common in Canada’s public schools despite objections from some parents, educators, and other citizens who argue that the practice perpetuates inequities between schools and communities. In this article I first situate school fundraising in North America within its broader socio-historical contexts. I then describe Hajer’s (1997) argumentative discourse theory that grounds my investigation of the struggle over fundraising policy that has taken place in Ontario over the past 20 years. Drawing on findings from an argumentative discursive analysis of 159 texts produced since 1996, I present the arguments (i.e., the story lines) of two discourse coalitions that have engaged in the struggle over the meaning of school fundraising: the fund-the-basics coalition and the fundraising-is-necessary-and-desirable coalition. I demonstrate the dominance of the fundraising-is-necessary-and-desirable coalition’s argument by showing diverse ways the practice has become institutionalized and highlight aspects of the policy context that have contributed to the normalization of school fundraising. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of the utility of Hajer’s argumentative discourse theory and analysis in education policy research and highlight contributions of the current study to understanding of advocacy, media, and education policy change.
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