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IJER Vol 2-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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13 Articles

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An External Evaluation of Systemwide School Reform in Chicago

ePub

D. WILLIAM QUINN, MONICA STEWART and JERI NOWAKOWSKI

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory

1900 Spring Road

Oak Brook, IL 60521-1480

The first external systemwide evaluation of Chicago’s school reform was packed into a three-month period, January through April of 1992. The evaluation, conducted by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory for the 1990-91 school year, presented both practical and conceptual problems in assessing massive school reform. Chicago is the largest city in the State of Illinois, educates approximately one-fourth of all Illinois students, employs over 42,000 persons excluding substitutes, and spends two plus billion dollars annually in educating over 400,000 students.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) evaluation (Nowakowski, Stewart and Quinn, 1992), was commissioned by the Chicago School Finance Authority, a review body charged with statutory oversight of reform legislation.

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Educational Reform in Mexico

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BERTHA OROZCO FUENTES

Professor and Researcher, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico,

Centro de Estudios Sobre la Universidad Centro Cultural Universitario, 4o Piso, Mexico, D. F. Mexico 04510

SANDRA ELIZONDO Y CARR

Translator, Director General, Centro de Aprendizaje y Servicios Tecnologicos de Lenguas Extranjeras, Coyoacan, Mexico

With great fanfare, Mexico’s President, Carlos Salinas de Gotari, acted as Honor Witness to the signing of the act between the Federal Executive Power Representative, headed by the Public Education Secretary, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, the Governors of this country’s thirty-one States, and Elba Esther Gor-dillo, Secretary General of the Education Workers Union in May of 1992 (see National Agreement for the Modernization of Basic Education, 1992).

Once again, a new initiative to reform the educational system at the national level was launched. Such an agreement has never been satisfactorily concluded despite all of the previous political-educational proposals that have been developed to modernize this country’s education.

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Frames of Leadership

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THOMAS J. SERGIOVANNI

Lillian Radford Professor of Education and Administration

Trinity University

715 Stadium Drive

San Antonio, TX 78212

There are many frames for understanding leadership. But in today’s literature of educational administration, only some of these frames are considered legitimate. Further, relying only on these “legitimate” frames can actually work against school improvement. An examination of practice, however, provides a different picture –a picture that includes an enriched view of what leadership is and how it should be practiced. I reach this conclusion after numerous conversations with school leaders.1 Recently, for example, I asked Larry Norwood, principal of Capitol High School in Olympia, Washington to participate in one of my studies on leadership by providing me with critical incidents of his leadership in action. He responded, “Tom-I have wrestled with this-and finally decided to pass. … I can think of nothing of literary significance that I have achieved (in the way of leadership) in the past 22 years. My style is to delegate and empower and my successes have been through other people. If I have a strength it is as a facilitator–that doesn’t make good copy: Sorry, L. N.” Even though Norwood doesn’t think of himself as a leader, I believe he is. I suspect that one of the reasons for Norwood’s success may be because he implicitly rejects leadership as we now understand it.

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Massachusetts Educational Reform at the Crossroads

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PATRICIA G. ANTHONY and GRETCHEN B. ROSSMAN

School of Education

254 Hills House South

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Amherst, MA 01003

The public education system in Massachusetts has a long history of excellence and high regard across the nation. The Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, has retained its strong reputation for over three hundred years while responding to shifts in populations and public policy. Educational leaders such as Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe shaped public education both in the Commonwealth and across the nation during the 19th and 20th centuries. Moreover, a long tradition of local control over education has created schools that are responsive to the variety of communities across the Commonwealth, rural, urban, and suburban alike.

This history, however, is being challenged as we approach the year 2000. A declining economy, changed demographics, and a conservative government have placed the Commonwealth’s schools in crisis. The boom years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, fueled by the growth industries of high technology and biomedical and defense-related research, have been replaced by failed high-tech companies and the collapse of giants in the banking industry, with a resulting dramatic loss of jobs and net population declines. These conditions are reflected in the public schools whose vitality and viability, in many communities, are in jeopardy.

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Shifting to a New Paradigm: School Reform in the Republic of Belarus

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IOURI L. ZAGOUMENNOV

Chair of Educational Administration

Department Belorussian Institute for Upgrading Educational Administrators and Specialists

4 Korolya Street

Apt.13 Minsk

Belarus 220004

The uniform educational system in the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former USSR) doesn’t exist any more. The independent states declared their wish to build up their own independent educational systems. We attempt to describe and to analyze the educational “perestroyka” in one of the former Soviet Social Republics– the Republic of Belarus, the capital of which, Minsk, hosts the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

According to the recently adopted Belorussian Act on Education, the Republic of Belarus, as a sovereign state, has an educational and training system of its own and grants each of its citizens an opportunity to develop his or her personality, to be educated in accordance with his or her choice and ability, and to be introduced to the cultural and historic heritage of the Belorussian people, as well as of other communities in the Republic. The right of equal opportunity for access to the national educational system is ensured by free-of-charge education at state basic schools for a specified term, or in other state educational establishments for those who either have passed tests on a competitive basis or those who have enjoyed privileges provided by law.

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Principals as Evaluators: Limiting Effects on School Reform

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WILLIAM K. POSTON, JR. and RICHARD P. MANATT

Department of Professional Studies

College of Education

Iowa State University

N229 Lagomarcino Hall

Ames, Iowa 50011

Introduction

Efforts to reconceptualize teacher performance evaluation have been the focus of school reform since 1979, when the Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll discovered that “improving teacher quality” was the respondent’s first choice for improving public schools. In today’s reform movement, teacher performance and school restructuring are key phrases used to describe efforts for the improvement of quality in learning. Although the importance of teacher quality persists, the means for achieving quality may be ineffectual in practice. This article enumerates findings that present-day practices do not mirror state-of-the-art knowledge. Administrators are accountable for delivering sound and appropriate teacher evaluation, but this article shows that without evidence of proficiency and skill on their part, any improvement in instruction may be jeopardized. This article also explores and reports some important findings on the relationships and effects of administrative competency in teacher evaluation and school reform.

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Education for Human Rights: Demythologizing Dysfunctional Qualities of Myths

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NELSON L. HAGGERSON

Professor Emeritus of Education

College of Education

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ 85287-1911

The major premises of this article are that (1) recognition, understanding, and implementation of human rights (inherent dignity and equality of all members of the human family) on an international scale is an idealized goal. A philosophical world view based on human discussion and consensus regarding our belief in the nature of human beings is a goal for which all nations and all people should strive; this goal has been accepted by the United Nations, by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, by UNICEF UNO 1989 (UNESCO in Education in Asia), by the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP) (Harris), and by the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction (WCCI) (Floresca-Cawagas). (2) Some myths and traditions that characterize many cultures and subcultures are antithetical and dysfunctional to a consensual version of human rights. (3) Education is one form of demythologizing traditions that are not in keeping with human rights as put forth by various world organizations and educators around the world. Education is a major form of intervention used to take persons and societies away from myths, laws, policies, actions, and ideas antithetical to human rights in order to point them toward myths, laws, policies, actions, attitudes, and ideas that are in keeping with the consensual forms of human rights. (4) The fact that myths regarding human nature are so powerful, so ingrained, and so much a part of everyday human actions makes education for human rights an incredibly slow and tedious job. But, progress is being made; there is hope, and the world is probably more ready for a major leap forward than at any other time.

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Structural Change and Curriculum Reform in an Australian Education System

ePub

DAVID G. CARTER

Senior Lecturer, College of Education

The University of Notre Dame, Australia

13-19 Mouat Street, P.O. Box 1225

Fremantle, Western Australia 6160

The economy of Australia, reflecting current difficulties evident in the operation of the global economy, is in recession. “The Lucky Country” has become “The Unlucky Country,” so our politicians would have us believe as they seek to locate the origins of the country’s economic malaise on forces substantially outside the control of policymakers and their stewardship of the national economy. The natural resource endowments of Australia fuel the popular belief held by its citizenry that we should be doing a lot better with respect to the reduction of a large balance-of-payments deficit, reducing the rates of inflation and interest down to levels comparable with those of our major competitors, and reversing trends in falling productivity and rising unemployment. The dilemma of fulfilling public expectations for the maintenance of high standards of living and adequate social service provisions, while concurrently reducing costs, places politicians and their economic advisers in a “no win” position with the public at large. The largest budget allocations for provision of health, education and social welfare services have seemingly taken the brunt of the push for cost efficiencies and the pruning back of public expenditure. An offshoot of the redistribution of resources in line with revamped federal policies has been that associated responses in the contemporary social and economic climate have encouraged education to be redefined in instrumental terms inter alia to better serve the needs of the labour market.

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Policy Issues and Options When States Take over Local School Districts

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THOMAS R. GUSKEY

Professor, Department of Educational Policy

College of Education

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY 40506

This article outlines a series of issues that become crucial when state authorities move to take over a local school district. Its purpose is not to justify such takeovers, nor is it to defend the position of local school officials who must contend with the takeover. Rather it is to make clear the educational and political conditions that have led to such takeovers, and what is at stake when a takeover is proposed and then carried out.

Three major questions are addressed in this discussion: (1) What developments have led to state intervention in the operation of local school districts? (2) Is such intervention a legitimate use of state power? and (3) Under what conditions might intervention by state authorities truly enhance the quality of education students receive?

What Developments Have Led to State Intervention in the Operation of Local School Districts?

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Counterpoint

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Henry A. Giroux

Since the early 1980s, big business has attempted to play a vital role in redefining the purpose and meaning of public schooling. Rejecting a concern with issues of equity, racial justice, sexual equality, and cultural democracy, conservatives reasserted the debate over making schools relevant to students’ lives by reducing the language of relevance to little more than job preparation. In part, this meant educating the vast majority of students for a type of functional literacy in which they would be educated to read, write, and possess skills for specialized employment while simultaneously being provided with a curriculum in which they would learn how to be efficient consumers. Within this educational scenario, schools would produce workers who could willingly perform the specialized tasks required by an economy facing a high level of increased competition from abroad.

The dual emphasis on training and consumption that characterized the early stage of the conservative reform movement is worth elaborating. In the first instance, conservatives and corporate executives redefined the meaning of “excellence” by which they usually meant that schools should offer a more rigorous science and math curriculum–a notion that was in keeping with the conservative idea that the mastery of techniques was equivalent to progress. In this discourse, terms such as “achievement,” “excellence,” “discipline,” “values,” and “performance” in practice meant a return to the authoritarian classroom where transmission, standardization, and control become the defining principles of the curriculum.

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Legal

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Todd A. DeMitchell

What role will collective bargaining play as the current wave of reform attempts to reshape education? With its legitimate concern for the collectivity, can it provide for the professional autonomy of teachers? Can the centralizing tendency of collective bargaining accommodate the decentralization of restructuring? These questions are important as educators nationwide grapple with reform issues. The link between collective bargaining and the current reform agenda is particularly salient now (McDonnell and Pascal, 1988). Myron Lieberman (1984) argues that “teacher unions and teacher bargaining either frustrates most reforms or would be sufficient to frustrate them, regardless of the presence or absence of other barriers to reform” (p. 54). Yet, other observers (McDonnell and Pascal, 1988; Shedd and Bacharach, 1991) contend that teacher unions and collective bargaining have not been major obstacles to reform and may have strengthened school management. Regardless of which side is correct, both sides agree that the process of reform clearly intersects the process of collective bargaining. Reform efforts must come to grips with collective bargaining. Collective bargaining cannot be ignored or wished away.

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Instruction

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John M. Jenkins

The year was 1880. The author was the philosopher Herbert Spencer. The essay was entitled, “What Knowledge Is of Most Worth.” Spencer criticized the schools for their emphasis on curricula that were cosmetic, fashionable, and ornamental at the expense of what was practical. He called for an education that prepared students for “complete living,” a term which he defined as encompassing five major activities.

Activities for self-preservation were primary for they positively impacted all the subordinating ones. Here, he explained the importance of subjects that contributed to a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle. Activities for making a livelihood were next in importance. Here, he referred to those subjects that provided the knowledge and skills for students to take their place in the workforce or, in Spencer’s words, subjects which “helped secure necessities of life.” In his mind, the most likely subjects to contribute to this end were mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology (Spencer, 1880).

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College

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Richard P. Manatt

There is a strong paradigm shift at the federal, state, and district levels to focus on educational outcomes, on what graduates should know, be, and do, not simply what they have been taught. At first, the changes were a bit of tinkering here and there. Some said it was just the Bill Spady “after effect.” Spady would do a seminar on Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) and several local education agencies would form a “success league” to “design down and build up” their outcomes curriculum. Professors of supervision and curriculum at first dismissed OBE as the next fad, a hula hoop that would fade away when Total Quality Management became Total Quality Improvement under the auspices of the American Association of School Administrators.

It didn’t work out that way. Numerous states are now developing learner outcomes and assessment strategies that require students to apply that learning to a task or to create a product. At this writing, just before the national election, ten states are using Spady’s approach, vis., Oregon, Vermont, California, Maine, Connecticut, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

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