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IJER Vol 5-N4

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The mission of the International Journal of Educational Reform (IJER) is to keep readers up-to-date with worldwide developments in education reform by providing scholarly information and practical analysis from recognized international authorities. As the only peer-reviewed scholarly publication that combines authors’ voices without regard for the political affiliations perspectives, or research methodologies, IJER provides readers with a balanced view of all sides of the political and educational mainstream. To this end, IJER includes, but is not limited to, inquiry based and opinion pieces on developments in such areas as policy, administration, curriculum, instruction, law, and research.
IJER should thus be of interest to professional educators with decision-making roles and policymakers at all levels turn since it provides a broad-based conversation between and among policymakers, practitioners, and academicians about reform goals, objectives, and methods for success throughout the world.
Readers can call on IJER to learn from an international group of reform implementers by discovering what they can do that has actually worked. IJER can also help readers to understand the pitfalls of current reforms in order to avoid making similar mistakes. Finally, it is the mission of IJER to help readers to learn about key issues in school reform from movers and shakers who help to study and shape the power base directing educational reform in the U.S. and the world.

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16 Articles

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Effective Island, Effective Schools: Repairing and Restructuring in the Singapore School System

ePub

LESLIE SHARPE

Professor, Policy and Management Studies Division, Nanyang Technological University, National Institute of Education, 469 Bukit Timah Road, Republic of Singapore 259756

S. GOPINATHAN

Dean, School of Education, Nanyang Technological University, National Institute of Education, 469, Timah Road, Republic of Singapore, Singapore 259756

The last few years have seen a radical process of “restructuring” of school systems taking place in many industrialised countries (Beare and Boyd, 1993). A major impetus for this restructuring is undoubtedly economic—that schools have been perceived by governments as not serving the needs of the economy and in some ways actually being responsible for economic decline. Countries such as the U.S. and the UK, where schooling and industry had for many years been clearly separated, and where issues of equity and justice had dominated educational discourse, were, in the late seventies and eighties forced to place economic efficiency at the top of their agendas (Silver, 1994). Moreover, in the U.S., the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excel lence in Education, 1983) articulated a causal linkage between economic decline and schooling and provided the ideological justification for education to be taken out of the hands of professional educators. Education had entered the realm of “High Politics” and erstwhile attempts at “repair” were replaced by a fundamental “restructuring” of the internal and external environments of school systems (Guthrie and Koppich, 1993; Murphy, 1991).

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The Past is Still Present: An Interview with England’s Best Known Child-Centered Educator, John Coe, Oxfordshire

ePub

RUSS FIRLIK

South School

New Canaan

Connecticut 06840

John Coe is an experienced primary education specialist, prolific writer, and gifted teacher. After working as a teacher and head teacher in both rural and urban schools, he joined the former West Riding as an Inspector of Schools. Then he moved to Oxfordshire where for sixteen years he led the primary advisory team. In 1980, he helped to establish the National Association for Primary Education. After serving as National Chairman for three years, he accepted responsibility for the Association’s research and development work. Currently, John is directing postgraduate primary education at Wheatly College in Oxford.

Almost two decades ago, Vincent Rogers, a professor of education at the University of Connecticut, who had studied British schools for many years, interviewed John Coe, then senior primary advisor, Oxfordshire County Primary Schools. In 1979, Phi Delta Kappan published that interview with John Coe (Rogers, 1979). In the same spirit of gaining new knowledge from one of the leading educators in England, I had the opportunity during my Fulbright Administrator’s Exchange to England, to interview my colleague of over twenty years. John is still extremely active in primary schools in Oxfordshire and London. The questions used in my interview were interestingly enough the same relevant questions asked by Rogers to Coe almost twenty years ago.

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A Trilogy of Articles on Delaware’s Reform, RE:LEARNING

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ROBERT HAMPEL

Associate Professor. College of Education, University of Delaware. Newark, DE 19716

What does it take to start a revolution? Compelling ideas to rally around are indispensable. In Horace’s Compromise, Theodore Sizer (1984) resurrected old Progressive ideals of lively, flexible schooling. Student-centered classrooms would work on interdisciplinary projects challenging for all ability levels. Collaborating in teams, teachers would be mentors and advisers, not drillmasters. Rearranging the master schedule would reduce student/teacher ratios. A leaner curriculum with clear standards for final “exhibitions” for graduation would promote intellectual intensity. The fragmentation, impersonality, and tedium of most American high schools would give way to a more joyful, yet more thoughtful atmosphere.

Sizer trusted teachers to see secondary education as he did. In his book, Horace and his colleagues are the answer, not the problem. The solutions would have to come from them. Faculty discussions about curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment would drive school reform. He envisioned renewal from within as conscientious teachers scrutinized their work and became “critical friends” to each other. The faculty would know enough to steer its own course without relying on outsiders or following mandates from the state. Sizer was one of the earliest advocates of “bottom up” reform.

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RE:LEARNING: Searching for Allies

ePub

ROBERT L. HAMPEL

Associate Professor

Educational Development

College of Education

University of Delaware

Newark, DE 19716-2915

RE:LEARNING was subtitled from the schoolhouse to the statehouse, but in Delaware this initiative began in the statehouse. If Governor Michael Castle and his Education Advisor Helen Foss had not talked with the President of the Education Commission of the States (ECS) in November, 1987, there might not have been a Delaware RE:LEARNING. The impetus came from the top, not from classroom teachers or local administrators. No Delaware schools had previously applied to join the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), and two national reports in 1986 advocating sweeping changes — A Nation Prepared (Carnegie Forum, 1986) and Time for Results (National Governor’s Association, 1986) — aroused no local or district enthusiasm, which disappointed Foss. In a 1986 meeting with the nineteen district superintendents, she announced that “turf, tradition, and tunnel-vision” hobbled Delaware educators. That startled the local “chiefs,” as they called themselves. So did her claim that the public was not convinced the schools were doing well, a claim that prompted one chief to put his arm around her and say, “Well honey, why don’t you get out there and tell them how well we’re doing?” (Helen Foss, personal communication, March 29, 1987).

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RE:LEARNING: A Challenge to the Culture

ePub

EDWARD E. TAYLOR, II

Principal, West Seaford Elementary School, 511 Sussex Ave., Seaford, DE 19973

ROBERT L. HAMPEL

Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716

A rural community named for the profuse laurel bushes in its woodlands, Laurel, Delaware, exemplifies small town America. The town is rich in tradition, boasting five of the state’s governors, and Victorian homes line several streets. The quaintness and tranquility make it an inviting place to live quietly and cheaply. Like many small towns in Sussex County, the chief means of livelihood in Laurel are farming and the “broiler” (chicken) industry. Industries closely allied to these activities — feed mills, the farmer’s auction market, and fertilizer companies — exist in and about Laurel as well.

Like many small towns, provincialism reigns and affluence quietly rests with a few families. A median family income in Sussex is the lowest of the three counties in Delaware. Sussex County citizens also lag in educational attainment. Migrant workers, immigrants, and low-income housing developments are seen throughout the county and Laurel community. In contrast, many retirees find the low real estate tax appealing. Each year more retirees move to the area; they are not interested in supporting schools with higher real estate taxes.

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RE:LEARNING: Exposing the Culture

ePub

JOSEPH L. FITZPATRICK

College of Education

University of Delaware

Newark, DE 19716

At RE: LEARNING’s beginnings in Delaware, the usual collection of optimists, idealists, and dreamers was there, but so were the somewhat cynical, who questioned the motives of the “pacers” proposing the reform. The cynical were and continue to be well placed — deeply and influentially entrenched throughout the state bureaucracy, in the business community, within the state P.T.A., in district offices, and in offices and classrooms of both RE:LEARNING and non-RE:LEARNING schools. RE:LEARNING would reveal the extent to which these two forces represent or dominate Delaware’s educational culture.

During the spring of 1988, early negotiations in Delaware accurately foreshadowed future struggles. Several of the prerequisites for membership in the national RE:LEARNING effort were relatively easy matters — an appropriation for the effort was secured, schools had been invited to participate, and the Governor, considerably influenced by his educational advisor, publicly endorsed the effort. The selection of a state coordinator and the establishment of a state cadre, an advisory group, remained.

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Organizational Culture in a Mexican School: Lessons for Reform

ePub

ANABELLA DAVILA

Professor in the Graduate School of Management and Leadership

Monterrey Institute of Technology, Sucursal de Correos ‘J,’ Monterrey, Mexico 64849

DONALD J. WILLOWER

Distinguished Professor of Education, Department of Education Policy Studies

The Pennsylvania State University, 311 Rackley Building, University Park, PA 16802-3201

We draw in this article from a study of the organizational culture of a Mexican private high school. That inquiry had three main purposes. The first was to explore from an emic, or insider’s perspective, the organizational culture of a particular kind of Mexican high school, the second was to compare what was found there to a similar study of a “good” American school, and the third was to glean lessons that might be relevant to the processes of school reform and improvement by looking closely at a school organization that seemed likely to exhibit a sense of community and an array of activities and values congenial to student commitment to learning. This paper deals mainly with the third aspect of the investigation.

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One Canadian District’s Road to Substantial School-Based Management

ePub

DANIEL J. BROWN

Associate Professor, Educational Administration Program, Faculty of Education

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B. C. Canada V6T JZ4

LLOYD W. OZEMBLOSKI

Principal, Holy Family School

North Peace Roman Catholic Separate School District, Peace River, Alberta

The school district of Langley was characterized by substantial discontent during the late 1970s. Principals complained they had to gain access to many departments in the central office in order to transact school business. Some indicated the lines of communication were not clearly defined, and services were obtained by playing one department against another. A few principals could access services because they were good talkers or “squeaky wheels.” [#34:7]* Not only were resources handed out in a haphazard fashion, but so were directions. One high school principal said, “We had all kinds of people telling us what to do — superintendents here, directors there. They had authority over our decisions.” [#36:12] There were several assistant superintendents, each of whom had jurisdiction on different matters over all principals and teachers. Board members, in turn, were displeased because they had no sense of where district money was being spent, and some were certain it was being wasted. As one mentioned, “Principals were told how much they could spend, so they spent everything whether they needed it or not because if they didn’t, they lost the money.” [#35:1] Dissatisfaction grew. According to the superintendent, “The district was on TV a lot. People were arguing, principals’ homes had been burned and you name it. We had all kinds of ‘history’ here.” [#41:6] A board member recounted the result:

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Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: Order, Anxiety, and Systemic Reform

ePub

JAMES RYAN

Centre for Leadership Development

Department of Educational Administration

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

252 Bloor Street West

Toronto, Ontario MSS IV6

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Many are familiar with this popular childhood riddle. We may recall the first time we heard the news about Humpty. It no doubt saddened some of us. Others were perhaps merely anxious. Yet others may have experienced both emotions, with good reason.

For here, we had what was once a vital, reasoning, functioning — albeit somewhat difficult but personable — egg, in pieces. His parts are strewn carelessly about the terrain and there appears little hope of putting them back together. What was once a smoothly functioning organism, eminently capable of conversing with Alice, fashioning meaning in unique ways, and getting to the heart of difficult riddles (Carroll, 1971), appears destined for the junk pile.

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The Nature of Secondary School Organization and Site Specific Restructuring

ePub

GRAHAM DELLAR

Educational Leadership and Curriculum Studies

Curtin, University of Technology

GPO Box U 1987

Perth 6001, Western Australia

With the number of restructuring and reform endeavors presently confronting education systems in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere, it seems timely to examine the area of educational change management. Understanding the dynamics and complexities of implementing reform appears critical to the success of restructuring and school improvement.

Research was conducted in three secondary schools in Western Australia that were about to implement school-based decision making and planning procedures as part of restructuring and reform. The restructuring program reflected a corporate managerialist perspective that views schools as rational systems.

It was hoped that the research would not only provide insights into the dynamics of the change process, but also provide an opportunity to assess the propriety of viewing schools as open social systems rather than as organizational structures.

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The Effects of Block Scheduling on Student Performance

ePub

GWEN SCHROTH

Assistant Professor of Educational Administration, East Texas State University, Commerce, TX 75429

JEAN DIXON

Principal, C. F. Carr Elementary School, Dallas, TX

Introduction

Public secondary schools are in serious trouble and may be replaced by institutions of choice, both public and private, because our education efforts are failing to produce a work force capable of competing with those of other industrialized nations (Carroll, 1994a). Educators have responded to the call for reform by restructuring and rearranging the curriculum, administration, teaching techniques, and even the school day. Yet, no matter the proposed solution, there is one consistent recurring problem — finding time to restructure. Most cures for education’s ills involve increased time for training, staff development, collaboration, communication, empowerment, and student learning. Concerning the issue of time, Sommerfeld (1993) responds aptly, “We have met the enemy, and they are hours.”

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The Internationalist

ePub

Peter McLaren

Professor of Education

University of California, Los Angeles

College of Education

Los Angeles. CA 90024-1521

Peter: So why don’t you begin by telling us how you entered the field of curriculum, I assume by the back door since your training and earlier interests were elsewhere.

Carl: I like that question as an opener since I can answer it in two enjoyable ways. from how I thought about it when I began working in the area and from the way I think about it now, with a much better sense of the history of the field and my own development.

Peter: Ler’s hear both versions, or either. Maybe the most interesting first.

Carl: Well, as long as my sense of the biography of curriculum studies is taken to be totally personal, an account of what shaped my own professional choices, and not a critique of either where curriculum was or is.

Peter: Right, I suspect the people who read this interview are the least likely to deny you your experience. On the other hand, I’d like your sense of why you think it’s important to establish that you are not representing historical truth.

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Counterpoint

ePub

Henry A. Giroux

Waterbury Chair Professorship in Secondary Education

College of Education

Pennsylvania State University

Chambers Building

University Park. PA 16802

Uncolored Teachers in the Hollywood Imagination

Dangerous Minds (1995). a Hollywood blockbuster. starring Michelle Pfeiffer. was produced for a mass. general audience. and grossed millions for its producers within its first week. The film’s popularity. in part. can be measured by the appearance of a pilot television series called “Dangerous Minds” that will premier in the fall of 1996. While some may argue that Dangerous Minds is too popular and too unoriginal to be taken seriously as a cultural text. it is precisely because of its popularity and widespread appeal that it warrants an extended analysis. Like many Hollywood films. Dangerous Minds is not only offensive in terms of its racial politics. but also in its fundamentally debased depiction of teaching and education. The 1995 summer hit is also symptomatic of how seemingly “innocent” entertainment gains its popularity by taking part in a broader public discourse on race and “whiteness” largely informed by a right-wing and conservative notion of politics, theory, and pedagogy.

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Instruction

ePub

John M. Jenkins

6211 NW 93 Terrace

Gainesville, FL 32653

The very act of observing disturbs the system.

–Werner Heisenberg

The purpose of supervision is to improve instruction. Educational leaders face the challenge of engaging others in the work of the organization. Helping people align their personal needs with the needs of the institution is a major step toward improving their effectiveness as professionals. But research fails to show that supervision makes a difference in how teachers behave. Unfortunately, their perception of supervision tends to be negative.

Teacher perceptions often stem from experiences that confuse supervision with evaluation. Building-level administrators have helped create this misconception by hurried classroom visitations, mechanistic implementation of procedures, and feedback often consisting of a completed form in a teacher’s mailbox with directions to sign and return. It is small wonder that supervision is looked upon with suspicion. Another contributing factor may be the term supervision itself. Checking a thesaurus, one finds synonyms such as “to boss,” “oversee,” and “superintend.” The dictionary refers the reader to the word “oversight.” These definitions assume the supervisor knows more than the persons being supervised and must watch and direct them. Historically, supervision was the role of the superintendent who was directly responsible for teaching teachers how to teach. Later as school districts grew in size, supervision was delegated to other district level staff and to the building principal. Additionally, by defining supervision narrowly, the focus was placed on classroom visitation, observation, and summative evaluation. A broader definition might have included selecting and developing curricula, providing inservice courses and workshops, and determining the effectiveness of instructional materials.

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Legal

ePub

Todd A. De Mitchell

Associate Professor and Associate Chair

Department of Education

University of New Hampshire

Durham, NH 03824

Federal laws provide legal relief for teachers, secretaries, and custodians who are sexually harassed at school by their peers. Both Title VII and Title IX provide a remedy for a sexually hostile environment created by coworkers.1 While the adults in the school have available a legal remedy for the discriminatory conduct of their peers, the students in the same school may have no such judicial protection from their peers’ severe or pervasive behavior that forces them to run a gauntlet of abuse in order to receive their education. Students are not entitled to protection under Title VII because they are not employees. However, both students and school employees are protected under Title IX. But, adults receive legal protection under Title IX for peer sexual harassment that may be denied to students.2

Sexual harassment is a real specter that haunts the lives of most school­children. A national survey conducted by the American Association of University Women in 1993 found that 85 percent of the girls and 76 percent of the boys reported being sexually harassed in their public school: 70 percent had been the victims of harassment by other students. It is no coincidence that the title of their report is Hostile Hallways. Noted authority on sexual harassment in our public schools. Nan Stein, retold the story of a fourteen­year-old girl from New Hampshire:

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College

ePub

Richard P. Manatt

Professor of Educational Administration

College of Education

Iowa State University

N225 Lagomarcino Hall

Ames, IA 50011-3190

Jackie Manatt*

During the 1996 presidential campaign. Bob Dole ratcheted up the debate over (and desire for) vouchers, stipends which would allow parents choice of schools for their children. One very select group of families already has that privilege, families of upper-echelon executives serving multinational corporations when the executive is sent overseas. The choice isn’t as broad as Bob Dole envisions, but the privilege has the dollars to make choice very satisfactory.

Because celebrity-label clothing and athletic shoes are very much in the news, suppose you or your spouse works for a company that makes a popular line of signature clothing for women or for Nike or Reebok. After years of working your way up, it’s now your turn to run a factory in a “developing nation”1 : The salary raise is welcome, the promotion is long overdue, but now what about your spouse and kids?

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