Date of Award

Spring 2012

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Thomas Newkirk


In this project, I propose an alternate rhetorical strategy for literacy educators (K-16) seeking to enter debates over common standards for "college- and career-readiness" in literacy. I argue that the NCTE's current strategy fails to invite public participation in debate, and to remedy this situation, I suggest educators employ Kenneth Burke's pentad to sponsor public inquiry into the standards. When the CCSI claims its standards will ensure that all students "demonstrate independence as readers, writers, speakers, and listeners," I suggest educators ask: in what situations do students demonstrate independence? With whom or for whom? For what purposes? Using what methods? Answers to these questions reveal the diversity of students' literacy experiences and expose the inadequacy of the Common Core standards to encompass teaching and learning. This invitational rhetorical strategy still advances the NCTE's professional values but also allows for greater public participation in debate. I call this strategy "public professionalism" and situate it in the Deweyan tradition of rhetorical action for public engagement. I conclude this project with suggestions for literacy educators seeking to enter public debates over the goals and measures of their practice.