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IJER Vol 1-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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10 Articles

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If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Reform It: Taking Exception to the Educational Handwringers

ePub

JAMES K. ZAHARIS, JAMES S. DEGRACIE and JOSEPH M. O’REILLY

Mesa Public Schools

549 North Stapley Drive

Mesa, AR 85203-7297

Not since Sputnik launched a drive to improve math and science education have so many segments of society—business people, politicians, citizens and educators—focused so much energy on improving schools. Career ladders, alternative schools, site-based management and many other reforms are hitting our schools. Two questions remain, however. Do our schools need to reform, and, if so, to what purpose? High school completion rates by age 24 exceed 90 percent (Bracey, 1991). ITBS scores are at or exceed scores of past generations taking this achievement test (Hoover, 1990). SAT scores have climbed since the low point in the early 1980s and PSAT scores have shown no decline since they were first normed in 1963 (Bracey, 1991). This is occurring despite the fact that more and more children are living in poverty and more are coming from single parent “non-traditional” families, etc.

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Toward a “Cultural Quota” System in Our Schools?

ePub

LESLEY H. BROWDER, JR.

Professor of Educational Administration

Hofstra University

Hempstead, Long Island, NY 11550

Visiting a high school honor’s class recently, I heard a social studies discussion. It caught my attention. The teacher, an exuberant young woman, asked (possibly for my benefit): “Why is it necessary for us to understand the contributions of women and minorities to American society?”

A litany of predictable answers followed: the contributions of these groups have been long overlooked and undervalued; because these groups now play more significant roles in American society, their earlier contributions should be more recognized; it is important for “oppressed peoples” to have nationally recognized heroes and role models; and finally, too much history of American/Western civilization has been written by/for/and about “dead elite white guys” with long histories of “oppressing women and people of color.” The teacher beamed.

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Structural Changes in Education in England

ePub

DAVID E. HELLAWELL

Faculty of Education

University of Central England in Birmingham

Westboume Road Edgbaston

Birmingham, England B15 3TN

In discussing the various reforms which have taken place in Great Britain over the last decade, it is always a mistake to assume that there is an existing unified nation. Scotland and to a much more limited extent, Wales, always march to different drummers in matters educational; therefore, I shall restrict this article as far as possible to educational events in England.

This early point on differences in Great Britain is not merely pedantic. The Scots, for example, with their different philosophic and ideological backgrounds, have successfully resisted many of the educational reforms implemented over the border in England during this last decade. In the process, many of them have rediscovered their sense of separateness as a nation; this educational gulf has become a not insignificant factor in the current growth in the movement for independent nationhood for Scotland.

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Britain’s Education Officers Look at Reform, the Education Service, and Their Own Jobs

ePub

THOMAS E. GLASS

Department of Leadership and Educational Policy Studies

Nonhem Illinois University

DeKalb, IL 60115

JOHN HOWSON

Deputy Head, School of Education

Oxford Polytechnic, England

The national system of schools in Great Britain has been involved since 1988 in a sweeping series of reforms. Many of these reforms, such as locally-managed schools (site-based management), “opting out,” nationwide testing, evaluation, and standards are familiar types of school reforms to Americans.

The difference between American and British school reform is that the before-mentioned reform measures are mandated and implemented in every educational authority (state) in England and Wales. Whereas some American states have mandated top-down types of reforms similar to those being implemented in Britain, none have adopted such a wide range of reforms.

This article provides a brief view of the progress (or failure) of important elements of British school reform as seen by the key implementers of the reform, namely, the nation’s chief educational officers. The purpose is not to discuss the substantive nature of those reforms but to discuss the reactions of chief education officers at a specific point in time.*

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Reforming Teacher Education: Toward an Alternative Model of Practicum

ePub

GERALD TAYLOR, ANDREA BORYS and LINDA LAROCQUE

Faculty of Education

University of Alberta

5-109 Education Building North

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G5

However disenchanted many educators, teacher trainees and school practitioners may be with the current state of teacher education, few would single out the practicum component as a primary source of their disaffection. On the contrary, student teaching is widely regarded as the most appropriate and important experience in the development of a beginning teacher. Undergraduate teacher candidates are especially appreciative of the practicum, if for no other reason than the element of relevance it brings to a program which they frequently regard as patently out of touch with the realities of teaching. Beyond this, they also share with most teacher educators the view that student teaching affords them invaluable opportunities to make connections between theory and practice, to explore a variety of instructional techniques and teaching styles and, most important, to acquire the repertoire of organizational and management skills that will help them survive the ordeal of their first teaching assignment.1

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Critical Multiculturalism and Democratic Schooling: An Interview with Peter McLaren and Joe Kincheloe

ePub

SHIRLEY R. STEINBERG

Research Consultant

The Rockefeller Foundation

Peter McLaren is a former teacher activist from Toronto, Ontario, where he served as an educational journalist, writing a column entitled “Inner City Insight” for the teachers’ union. In 1980 he published his classroom diary, Cries from the Corridor, which became a national Canadian best-seller. Since coming to the United States, he has gained a reputation as an internationally acclaimed critical educational theorist. He is the author of numerous books and publications, including Schooling as a Ritual Performance, and Life in Schools, which the American Educational Studies Association named one of the most significant educational books of 1989. Forthcoming publications include Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter (Routledge), and (with Colin Lankshear), Critical Literacy: Radical and Postmodern Perspectives. At present, McLaren is Renowned Scholar in Residence, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of the Center for Education and Cultural Studies at Miami University (Ohio).

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Counterpoint

ePub

Henry A. Giroux

After the fires went out in Los Angeles, the Bush Administration once again reneged on its responsibility to address the problems and demands of democratic public life. In the face of escalating poverty, increasing racism, growing unemployment among minorities, and the failure of an expanding number of Americans to receive adequate health care or education, the Bush Administration invoked a wooden morality coupled with a disdain for public life by blaming the nation’s ills on the legislation of the Great Society, TV sitcom characters such as Murphy Brown, or the alleged breakdown of family values. Within this scenario, poverty is caused by the poverty of values, racism is seen as a “black” problem (lawlessness), and social decay can be rectified by shoring up the family and the free market.

The Bush Administration’s response to the Los Angeles uprising exemplifies the failure of leadership characteristic of the Reagan/Bush eras. Abandoning its responsibility for moral leadership, the federal government has reduced its intervention in public life to waging war against Iraq, using taxpayer’s money to bail out corrupt bankers, and slashing legislation that would benefit the poor, the homeless, and the disadvantaged. But there is more at stake here than simply the failure of moral and political leadership; at all levels of national and daily life, the breadth and depth of democratic relations are being rolled back. For example, this is seen in the growing disparity between the rich and poor, the ongoing attacks by the government and courts on civil rights and the welfare system, and the proliferating incidents of racist harassment and violence on college and public school sites.

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Legal

ePub

Todd A. DeMitchell

Background

Tennessee is no stranger to educational reform. In February of 1984, it enacted The Comprehensive Education Reform Act of 1984 (SBl). The act earmarked more than $401 million in new revenues for kindergarten through higher education during the 1984–85 school year, and more than $1 billion for the following three years (School Reform in 10 States, 1988). The heart of the reform package was a five-step career ladder, the first comprehensive incentive pay system in America. In addition to the career ladder, the Tennesseee reform act extended tenure from three years to four years, formulated tougher standards for teacher training, extended the school year by five days, provided over $7 million for textbooks and supplies, purchased computers for school use, and provided money for first grade readiness among other reform provisions.

Tennessee was not alone in passing major pieces of educational reform legislation. So many states enacted education laws in response to a deluge of reform reports, that consequently this period of activity has commonly been called the first wave of reform. As part of this wave, George Deukmejiian, Governor of California, signed into law in 1983 the omnibus education bill SB813. This major reform law made more than 80 changes in the education code. It in part established a mentor teacher program, provided incentives to lengthen the school day and school year, established higher starting salaries for teachers, and installed an accountability program using the California Assessment Program’s multiple matrix test. Similarly, in 1983 and 1984 Florida enacted legislation that provided for curriculum reform, increased graduation requirements, developed performance standards, and extended the school day and the school year.

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Instruction

ePub

John M. Jenkins

Culture hides much more than it reveals and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.

–Edward Hall

The late Marshall McLuhan once quipped that he didn’t know who discovered water, but he was certain that it wasn’t the fish. He elaborated by explaining that fish had no antienvironment which would enable them to perceive the element in which they live. Hence, they are affected by the water daily but are not aware of its impact. He viewed this condition as analogous to the degree of awareness that people have to any new environment created by any new technology (McLuhan and Fiore, 1968). The new technology comes into people’s lives and changes them without their conscious awareness. He used this thesis throughout several of his books to explain sudden changes in values, perceptions, and behavior in individuals and groups of people.

In a related comment, Winston Churchill wrote that “we shape our institutions and then they shape us.” Here, he referred to the fact that the institutions of a society exist to serve various functions within a society. As they are organized to serve those functions, they in turn teach the inhabitants silently and subtley. Their hidden agenda is profound. Schools as institutions of society are created to deliver certain services to children. How they are structured may well contribute as much or more to the education of the children than the stated curriculum. To quote a McLuhanism again, “The medium may indeed be the message.” If one examines the structure and organization of schools in general, there is not much difference between the schools of today and the schools of the past. Students are placed in 750 to 900 square foot rectangular classrooms. Each classroom is assigned a teacher and a number of students, usually between 25 and 30. The furniture is similar, wooden or plastic desks, tables and chairs, all facing in the direction of the chalkboard, overhead, or white board. Instruction for the most part is teacher dominated, with presentations and discussions the main fare. All students are exposed to the same material at the same rate. Homework is assigned for practice, and group tests are administered at the end of units or at the end of the week to determine student learning. The setting and approach are all rather predictable. While the predictability may provide some measure of security, one wonders, in this information age where the central nervous system surrounds the planet in the form of communication satellites, whether such security results in optimal student learning.

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College

ePub

Richard P. Manatt

America’s K–12 schools need fixing, as do the departments and colleges of education (ed schools, collectively). So why not restructure both at the same time? That’s the conclusion of the Holmes Group, a consortium of nearly 100 American research universities committed to making our programs of teacher preparation more rigorous and connected to both liberal arts education and pedagogical research. The Holmes Group believes that Professional Development Schools (PDSs) will do the job.

The Professional Development Schools constitute a ratcheting up of standards as well as a true reform initiative. The PDS is also a “partnership.” The campus changes envisioned by the Holmes Group, e.g., arts and sciences background, knowledge about learning, and in-school practice teaching that is well coached, are joined with research projects conducted at the school or district level to add to all educators’ knowledge about how to make schools more productive.

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