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IJER Vol 8-N1

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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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MIMI WOLVERTON*

Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology, Washington State University, Box 642136, Pullman, WA 99164-2136

WALTER GMELCH

Dean, College of Education, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

An educated workforce has been the United States’ number one asset in the past and must remain so in the future—in part because knowledge has become a central resource of society (Drucker, 1993; Kanter, 1989). This cannot be done “with policies, programs, and expectations rooted in a traditional system that is rapidly disappearing” (Kanter, 1989, p. 365). The general populace no longer automatically accepts what schools offer as adequate. In fact, today’s citizemy “expects from schools what it expects elsewhere: better service, lower cost, and higher quality of a mix of products that satisfies its senses of what a good education ought to provide” (Zemesky, Massy, and Oedel, 1993, p. 56).

To say that schooling is increasingly becoming a joint venture between schools and the workplace understates the magnitude of recent shifts in public opinion. Educators can no longer continue to do what has always been done in a vain attempt to preserve what has always been. The majority of Americans believe that education is the most important issue facing the country. Only 5 percent believe that external constituents, like business, should not play an active role in determining the future of education (Kanter, 1997). Many advocate a higher level of community responsibility for education (Kanter, 1997; Popcorn, 1992). Drucker goes so far as to say that those involved in schools must believe that “education is the one absolute good” (Drucker, 1993, p. 100). Indeed, everyone must take responsibility for the objectives, contributions, and behaviors of schools (Drucker, 1993, p. 108; Kanter, 1997).

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Peter McLaren, Jumara Novaes Sotto Maior,* Cláudio Orlando Costa do Nascimento,* and Rebecca L. Holt*

Professor of Education

University of California, Los Angeles

College of Education

Los Angeles, CA 90024-1521

Peter: Becky, you are translating this interview, and I’m grateful. I’d like to begin by asking you if you would be kind enough to share your introduction to the work of Desafio, and your meeting with Cláudio and Jumara.

Becky: My introduction to Desafio is a moment which stands out in my mind and demonstrates Desafio’s theory-to­practice approach to education.

I was living in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and was passionate about issues of social inequality and breaking down the white dominant ideology. My interest in working with children led me to Projeto Axé, a project in Salvador which educates and empowers street kids. Despite my limited language skills, I taught origami at Projeto Axé using paper the kids had made themselves at Axé’s paper recycling center. Several times, I heard firsthand how economic hardship had forced these children to the street to make money, in a city where children earn up to 30 percent of the household income. When my six-month internship ended in September 1993, I was still looking for answers. One day while enjoying a beer with some friends, I was introduced to Cláudio, who encouraged me to visit the Desafio center. It was there that I met my greatest educational mentors.

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