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IJER Vol 22-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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7 Articles

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Revisiting Ontario Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of Large-Scale Reform

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Thomas G. Ryan Yee Han Peter Joong

ABSTRACT: Within the following text, educational reform is examined to reveal how and to what extent Ontario secondary teachers (n = 87) have implemented educational changes that had a direct impact on students (n = 396), themselves, and curriculum. Our mixed methods data, while limited in scope, indicated that secondary school teachers were largely content with in-service professional development, resource supplies, and leadership. These new outcomes marked a swing away from the discontent noted in research completed in 2003, as positive indications were found in curriculum planning, teaching, student evaluation, reporting, technology, and the delivery of special education programs. Some areas, such as special education programming, were still viewed as problematic, yet sample teachers were able to support the reforms even though changes required additional planning time and new knowledge in the areas of assessment and technology.

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U.S. Federal Discrimination Law and Language and Culture Restrictions in K–12 Private Schools

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Ralph Mawdsley Joy Cumming

ABSTRACT: Section 1981 prohibits discrimination concerning the right to contract, and Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of the basis of race and national origin. The two cases that form the basis for the discussion in this article—Silva v. St. Anne Catholic School and Doe v. Kamehameha Schools—address whether culture and language can affect the legality of policies that might otherwise appear to be discriminatory.

This article addresses the extent to which K–12 private schools in the United States violate a federal nondiscrimination statute when they impose language or cultural admissions restrictions. The focus of this article is two recent federal court decisions involving private schools: Silva v. St. Anne Catholic School (henceforth, Silva; 2009) where a private school created an English-only language policy for its students, and Doe v. Kamehameha Schools (henceforth, Kamehameha V; 2010),1 where admission to the private school is limited to only those students who are related by blood as Native Hawaiians. The legal theories at issue are Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which accords all persons the same rights to make contracts, sue, and present evidence as “are enjoyed by white citizens,” and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits restrictions and discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. This article examines the facts and court opinion of Silva and the facts and court opinions of Kamehameha, followed by a discussion of the implications of the two cases on private schools in the United States.

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A Slippery Slope: Children’s Perceptions of Their Role in Environmental Preservation in the Peruvian Amazon

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Rebecca Galeano

ABSTRACT: Despite international attention and attempts to preserve the environmental diversity of the Amazon, it is an accepted fact that those who inhabit the forest must be the ones who preserve it. This article presents an analysis of how children in small rural riverine communities along the Amazon understand the importance of environmental preservation and whether they perceive themselves as important participants in the preservation process. Children from two communities in the Peruvian Amazon who have implemented ecotourism projects with international funding were interviewed to understand their knowledge of their lands and their roles in the global environmental crisis.

Despite international attention and attempts to preserve the environmental diversity of the Amazon, it is an accepted fact that those who inhabit the forest must play a role in determining how conservation will occur (Earle & Pratt, 2009; Redford & Stearman, 1993). In recent years many communities have worked with nongovernmental agencies in the Amazon and around the world in an attempt to implement ecotourism programs. The International Ecotourism Society (1990) defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Hutchins (Hutchins & Wilson, 2010) explains that these types of ecotourism for sustainability projects are “part of a growing trend in which communities, principally indigenous, search for alternative development models that protect natural resources and sustain local cultures” (p. 4). According to Walter (2009), this type of “community-based ecotourism operates as a set of principles which combine environmental conservation, education, and livelihood benefits for local people” (p. 513).

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Canadian High School Athletics and the Saga of Continuing Gender Discrimination

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Paul T. Clarke

ABSTRACT: In most Canadian jurisdictions, high school athletics are still governed by outdated and sexist views about participation. The author argues that the current approach is discriminatory and violates human rights laws. In addition, a careful analysis of the jurisprudence reveals a host of specious arguments that keeps athletically talented female athletes from competing with the males. A more progressive response to the current situation is required that embraces an ethic of inclusion and excellence.

On May 8, 2010, one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, carried the following article in its sports section: “The Struggle for Girls Who Can Play With the Boys.” Its author, Hayley Mick, depicts a less-than-flattering portrait of how sport bodies in Canadian provinces, including high school athletic associations, have responded to girls expressing a desire, for competitive reasons, to play with the boys in such sports as soccer and hockey. In fact, according to the article, Manitoba and Ontario are the only two Canadian provinces to allow females to compete on boys’ teams—and this participation has only come grudgingly and as the result of protracted legal proceedings.

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National Assessment and the Opportunity to Learn in Educational Reform

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Conrad Wesley Snyder Jr. Kofi D. Mereku

Francis K. Amedahe Kofui Etsey

John Adu

ABSTRACT: Over two decades, national assessments in Ghana have revealed generally poor performances across curriculum-based tests for primary school (Grades 1–6). Various reform agendas have been applied to the education system, sometimes with isolated success, but the overall performances remained stable and low. Surveying teacher mentors in schools revealed that only some of the curriculum was taught and not a high percentage was ever taught. The students faced national tests that reflected only a portion of what they were taught; they did not have the opportunity to learn the curriculum material on which the tests were based. The problem is that schooling is not happening.

Education is a complex endeavor, and although no assessment technique—no matter how well conceptualized and constructed—reflects the comprehensive qualities of learning, assessment is essential to estimate school effectiveness and accordingly manage the complexity. Tests approximate performances in a narrow band of the intended domains, and they are incomplete pictures of an education system. Various types and levels of assessment are required to illuminate schooling accomplishments and fill in the understanding of system effectiveness. Other forms of assessment provide some guidance in the classroom for those teachers who implement a systematic grading approach, but they are localized information and not easily used for general conclusions about system quality, even though they contribute to understanding local effectiveness. In Ghana, the range of abilities and achievement that can be assessed is even narrower because the needed hierarchy of assessments—from the national survey to the diagnostic school assessment to the detailed instructional and continuous student assessment—has not been fully operationalized. Over the years, the main evidence of system quality has come from a national assessment program that samples both schools and the curriculum. Ghana has one of the few longitudinal national assessment programs in existence, and although it cannot address all issues about Ghanaian schooling, the program is very informative, even suggesting an important link between performance and the opportunity to learn (OTL).

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Education in a Diverse Society Necessitates the Implementation of an Equitable Language Policy: The Russian Experience

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Ilghiz M. Sinagatullin

ABSTRACT: Russia’s secondary school populations are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity, culture, language, and religion. The growing diversity makes a considerable impact on the functions and goals of schools, the realization of which requires the implementation of an equitable language policy. In this article, I briefly represent Russia as a diverse society, examine a range of important functions of the secondary school, introduce the language situation being unfolded on a nationwide scale, and capture the essentials of a language policy that young graduates need to productively function in their own community, the mainstream society, and in an interdependent global space.

Diversity incorporates a whole range of ethnic, linguistic, religious, economic, and rural/urban variables. On a closer scale, it encompasses phenomena such as age, value systems, styles of clothing, cuisine, customs, traditions, and other overt and covert aspects of human existence. Human diversity is continually changing. Owing to migration, some people acquire new languages; others lose their indigenous tongue and start conversing in the mainstream language of a given society. Still others change their religion, ways of life, and cultural assets.

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Book Review

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(Lanham, MD: Lexington Books), $79.99 (hardcover), 321 pp.

Joseph D. Massucci

The state of education in today’s society is one of turmoil. All schools, public and private, face enormous challenges regarding financial stability. Aging facilities are in need of major renovation or replacement. Some academic programs are becoming obsolete in today’s world, and the need for new programs and technology place a heavy strain on already overextended budgets. Established faculties may not have the expertise needed to provide these new programs and the implications—reduction in force, eliminating teachers who can no longer serve the needs of the school, acquiring faculty with more diverse talents—affect relationships with teacher unions.

In his recent book Closing Chapters, author Thomas G. Welsh focuses on and examines the rise and decline of 18 urban parochial elementary schools in the diocese of Youngstown in northeastern Ohio. The diocese was established in 1943 and soon thereafter began to open schools that would safeguard the faith of Catholic children of immigrants to the United States and preserve their ethnic heritage. Welsh focuses on the period beginning with the Vatican Council II, specifically 1960 to 2006. He contends that during this period, urban Catholic schools—and I would add all urban schools—began to decline due to what he identifies as “demographic change, deindustrialization, and urban depopulation.”

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