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IJER Vol 2-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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13 Articles

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Of Chrysanthemums and Confucius: Some Impressions of Recent Japanese Educational Reforms

ePub

VALERIE J. JANESICK

Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045

Fix the mind on truth; cling to virtue; give play to loving kindness; recreate yourself with the arts.

Confucius

“The Analects of Confucius”

Introduction

These words of Confucius from centuries past are in many ways imbedded in current Japanese educational reforms and ongoing practice. Confucian influence is strong in the schools, especially in terms of the belief that effort is most important in studying and in perfecting oneself. Perhaps that explains the enthusiasm and joy on the faces of students featured in the photograph that accompanies this article. Ability is not an issue. Students in Japan are not tracked by ability. Instead, they are encouraged to try harder in their school work, for after all, effort means everything. Consequently, to understand Japanese education is to understand an alternative way of viewing the world. It is to think about things that seem contradictory to our Western way of diagraming, rationalizing, and analyzing the world. Likewise, the image of the chrysanthemum, which permeates Japanese literature, art, drama and kimono design, for example, evokes images of the foundations of Japanese education. Again, these foundations include beliefs that are foreign to the Western way of thinking. For example, the Japanese accept the world as it is. Unlike Americans, who constantly talk of change, Japanese people hold firmly to acceptance–they embrace the world as it is. Just as the chrysanthemum has its time in the life cycle, so does all else. Time is elastic. It is there. It is not used against someone like a weapon or as punishment, so common in Western cultures. Indeed, in reading guide books about Japan, there are endless descriptions of Western businessmen who are continually confounded by the length of time devoted to rituals, tea, and presentation of the business card (meishi). Why isn’t the meeting starting on time? When are we going to get to the agenda? For a Japanese person, that is not the question. The question becomes, How can I get to know what kind of person you are in order to do business with you?

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The Reform of Rural Education in China

ePub

YIDAN WANG

University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, 230 South Bouquet Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

STEPHEN L. JACOBSON

Associate Professor of Education, Department of Educational Organization, Administration, and Policy Graduate School of Education, 471 Baldy Hall, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260-1000

Over the past decade, the U.S. has experienced a series of reform initiatives that has placed education near the forefront of the American political agenda. Particularly since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), the general populace has become sensitized to the critical relationship between the quality of a nation’s educational system and its level of economic prosperity. This relationship has not gone unnoticed by other nations, especially among those aggressively seeking a greater share of the world s markets.

This article examines educational reform in China, specifically those reforms directed at schools in the rural countryside. Through the 1980s, the People’s Republic of China initiated a series of educational reforms aimed at promoting increased economic and social development through school improvement. In rural China, the goal of the reform movement has been to universalize basic education by making education more compatible with local needs. In order to accomplish this goal, the reforms implemented have had two distinctive characteristics:

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Reform of Chinese Higher Education in 1992

ePub

XIN ZUO

Division of Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409-1071

A Story as Introduction

Picking up my application for permission to pursue doctoral studies in the United States, Mr. Lin, Chairman of the Foreign Languages Department, remarked to Mr. Wang, the head of the departmental committee of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party): “Well, Xin’s application can have a departmental OK, right?” Mr. Wang, the department Party head, had to give a smile, to reciprocate the chairman’s and my smiles. Then my application was approved by the president of Hunan University, where I had taught for five years, instead of by a leader of the university’s CCP committee (the Chinese Communist Party committees exist in all walks of life and at all levels of administration in China).

I was surprised, because for more than two years, the decision-making authority regarding permission to study in the West had been firmly in the grip of the university’s CCP committee due to a rule issued by the MEC (Ministry of Education of China) soon after that world-shaking and bloody crackdown on the 1989 Chinese student pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. The rule, backed by swords and armored vehicles, was intended to strengthen the Communist power in Chinese universities.

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Educational Reforms and Politics in Connecticut

ePub

PAULA A. CORDEIRO and MARK R. SHIBLES

Department of Educational Leadership
School of Education
University of Connecticut
249 Glenbrook Road, U-93
Storrs, CT 06269-2093

The decade of the 1980s witnessed the enactment of hundreds of state educational reform initiatives. Numerous national reports, such as A Nation at Risk in 1983 and Time for Results in 1986, listed dozens of recommendations, many of which have been adapted and/or adopted by nearly every state.

Yet state educational policymakers continue to believe that considerable improvement in the educational system is crucial. A 1992 Connecticut report entitled From Vision to Reality sponsored by the Connecticut Business for Education Coalition stated, “CBEC is just one of a growing number of voices calling for systemic reform of Connecticut’s public schools” (p. 29).

In this article, we provide an overview and analysis of the major educational reforms initiated in Connecticut during the last ten years. First, we will discuss these initiatives in terms drawn from economics literature. Next we describe selected initiatives from the 1986 Education Enhancement Act, which was the key piece of reform legislation in Connecticut. Then we describe the impact of four state commissions with input from key interest groups on Connecticut educational policy. The conclusion contains several generalizations about the political climate of the state of Connecticut which are related to the momentum for change.

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Restructuring in the Eyes of Practitioners: An Analysis of “Next Century” School Restructuring Proposals

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DOUG ARCHBALD

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership
College of Education
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 1W16-2915

The Restructuring Movement

“Vision” has been a key theme in the movement to restructure schools. Observers have stressed the role of vision or “organizational mission” in transforming schools and other organizations from failure to success (Fiske, 1988; Peters and Waterman, 1982). Bolman and Deal (1991, p. 411) commenting upon a large body of research on leadership, write, “Vision is the only characteristic of effective leadership that is universal in these reports.” Vision is typically defined as a systematic set of shared beliefs which guides action, integrates organizational activities, provides focus, and sustains commitment (Blumberg and Greenfield, 1986; Herman, 1989; Murphy, 1990a; Nanus, 1992; Peterson, 1985; Parker, 1992).

Vision is crucial to the success of the school restructuring movement because the direction and the will must come mainly from within individual organizations. Schools cannot be mandated to restructure. Policies cannot dictate steps to take, rules to follow, and objectives to achieve to become a restructured school (Elmore and Associates, 1990). Teachers and principals in individual schools have the ultimate responsibility for initiating and implementing restructuring (Carnegie Forum, 1986; Cohen, 1990; Holmes Group, 1986; Lieberman and Miller, 1990). The fate of restructuring depends greatly upon what restructuring means to teachers and principals.

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Toward Reflective Teacher Education: The University of Connecticut Experience

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TIMOTHY G. REAGAN, CHARLES W. CASE and KAY A. NORLANDER

School of Education, Office of the Dean
The University of Connecticut
Room 228, Box U-64
249 Glenbrook Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2064

. . . Reflective teachers are never satisfied that they have all the answers. By continually seeking new information, they constantly challenge their own practices and assumptions. In the process, new dilemmas surface and teachers initiate a new cycle of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. (Ross et al., 1993, p. 337)

An important facet of educational reform efforts in the United States in recent years has been attempts to reconceptualize the way in which classroom teachers are prepared (see Beyer et al., 1989; Gideonse, 1992; Goodlad, 1991a; Holmes Group, 1986, 1990; Soltis, 1987; Sykes, 1992). Although such efforts have been manifested in a variety of ways, in major research institutions, the most significant reforms of teacher education have been guided, at least in part, by the recommendations of the Holmes Group (see Case et al., 1986; Holmes Group, 1986, 1990; Sykes, 1992) and the work of John Goodlad and his colleagues (see Goodlad, 1988a, 1988b, 1991a, 1991b; Goodlad and Field, 1993). In this article, we will provide an overview of the reform of the teacher preparation curriculum at one such institution, the University of Connecticut, where we adopted the goal of “reflective practice” not only as an objective for our students, but also for our own professional practice (see Brubacher et al., in press; Clift et al., 1990; Ross, 1990; Schön, 1983, 1987; Valli, 1992). We believe that the reform of the teacher education program at the University of Connecticut constitutes a compelling example of the sort of on-going effort toward the improvement of practice guided by reflective and action-based inquiry about which Ross and her colleagues were speaking in the above passage.

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Tracking and Research-Based Decision Making: A Georgia School System’s Dilemma

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JANE A. PAGE and FRED M. PAGE, JR.

Professors
College of Education
Georgia Southern University
Landrum Box 8144
Statesboro, GA 30460-8144

In her article “Can Tracking Research Inform Practice? Technical, Normative, and Political Considerations;” Jeannie Oakes challenges researchers and practitioners to engage in a process of inquiry based on new school norms: participation, communication, community, reflection, experimentation, risk taking, and trust. Oakes based recommendations for researchers on three dimensions of change. Using this paradigm (Figure 1), case studies that examine the technical, normative, and political aspects of a range of detracking efforts can be especially useful as other educators attempt to gain insight into this process (Oakes, 1992).

This case study utilizes the described framework in an analysis of early efforts in a Georgia school system’s attempts to move beyond tracking. The purpose of this case study was to analyze procedures undertaken and problems encountered in one Georgia school system as administrators attempted to make research-based decisions regarding reforms related to methods for grouping students for instruction.

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African and African-American Voices on Educational Leadership: Counter Cultural Images and Narratives

ePub

RICHARD W. DONELAN

Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Administration and Supervision
College of Education
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0017

Introduction

Leadership is specific to a given culture. Certain roles–for instance, in religion or in the military–are usually identified with leadership in very different cultures across space and time. Others–for instance, the industrial or corporate tycoon in the nineteenth and twentieth century United States and Japan, the party official or bureaucrat in what was the Soviet Union, the occasional intellectual, artist, labor or civil rights leader–quite clearly reflect a particular culture, a particular moment, or both.

African and African-American ideas are often very different from those of Europeans and European Americans. Africentric ideas about leaders and leadership have remained part of the cultural underpinnings of the African Diaspora over time. This article on leadership, educational leadership in particular, is intended to draw attention to some African-American voices that present the stories of the African-American experience and relate them to education. Such voices have been speaking to us for a long time. We can expect to continue to hear them in the future.

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Counterpoint

ePub

Henry A. Giroux

An alarming defensiveness has crept into America’s official image of itself, especially in its representations of the national past. Every society and official tradition defends itself against interferences with its sanctioned narratives; over time these acquire an almost theological status, with founding heros, cherished ideas and values, national allegories having an inestimable effect in cultural and political life.1

Disney and the Politics of Innocence

There are few cultural icons in the United States that can match the signifying power of the Disney Company. Relentless in its efforts to promote a happy, kindly, paternal image of its founder, Walt Disney, and an endless regime of representations and commodities that conjure up a nostalgic view of America as the “magic kingdom” the Disney Company has become synonymous with a notion of innocence that aggressively rewrites the historical and collective identity of the American past. As such, Disney productions play an important but often overlooked role in the cultural battles over the present and the future. Behind the ideological appeal to nostalgia, wholesome times, and the land that is “the happiest place on earth”there is the institutional and ideological power of a multinational conglomerate that wields enormous influence pedagogically and politically in a variety of public spheres. Writing about the power of the Disney Company, Jon Weiner illuminates the scope and power of the 4.7 billion dollar company:

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The Internationalist

ePub

Peter McLaren

Translated by Sebastian Figueroal *

Since 1982, Professor Alicia de Alba has undertaken extensive research in Latin American education. Her institutional affiliation is the Autonomous National University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico–UNAM) which is the largest university in Latin America and is located in Mexico City. Professor de Alba has dedicated her life and work to overcoming institutional, social, and economic oppression, especially as these forms of oppression affect the lives of subordinate groups, including the indigenous peoples of Latin America. Her work has a strong social and political component and her books are widely read and discussed in Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Argentina. Her most recent book, Curriculum: Myth, Crisis, and Representation, sold out in only three months.

Professor de Alba has been working in higher education, but she frequently works with Mexican teachers and students from many different cultural environments and socio-economic levels. She also seeks to maintain a dialogue with first world educators, especially with those concerned with social injustice, poverty, and the struggle to build a better world.

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Instruction

ePub

John M. Jenkins

When one analyzes the impact of technology on the contingencies of the workplace, it becomes clear that the old systems of both management and education will not work. As technological advances create new jobs and make others obsolete, the dialectic of destruction and creation is producing a world in which the unskilled worker will become an anachronism.

Our present system of education was designed for a different time and economy. Mass production fashioned on the beliefs of Frederick Winston Taylor assumed that those who assembled the products should follow the lead of their supervisors and not think for themselves. Thinking was the domain of management and not of the worker.

The educational system created to support this model of mass production educated the “brightest and the best” to assume the responsibilities of leadership at the expense of the masses. Similar to the current approach to gifted education, students were separated early in the educational process and provided an appropriately challenging education. The rest, since thinking was not a requirement for placement in the workforce, could be provided with a somewhat lesser education. In fact, if they could be infused with a spirit to do what they were told and follow directions, so much the better.

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Legal

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Todd A. DeMitchell

It takes no intuitive leap or well-reasoned analysis to conclude that children should be able to attend school and be free from sexual abuse visited upon them by their teacher, principal, or school bus driver. Sexual abuse in our schools appears to be a growing problem. Gail Paulus Sorenson (1991), in her research on sexual abuse in our schools, found through an analysis of the Education Law Reporter from 1987 through 1990 that the number of court cases dealing with proven and alleged sexual abuse of students was steadily increasing: 6 cases in 1987, 10 in 1988, 16 in 1989, and 19 reported by the end of 1990 (p. 461). While we can easily reach agreement on the need for our students to attend school without being abused, consensus on the precise contours of a school district’s duty to protect students and a school district’s liability for sexual abuse of students by school employees is less easily attained. This short discussion will be directed toward the duty and liability issues associated with a public school employee’s sexual abuse of students by analyzing a recent federal court of appeals decision, Doe v. Taylor Independent School District, 975 F.2d 137 (5th Cir. 1992), that may be pointing to a new path that educators may have to travel.

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College

ePub

Richard P. Manatt

Joe Drips *

Wow, have we got a fight on our hands! The religious right was supposed to go away with George Bush. He kept the faith with cultural conservatives; he even turned over his nomination convention to them, but only the evangelical Protestants stuck with him on election day. Now school reform could move quickly to Out– comes–Based Education; standards for students; multicultural, nonsexist curricula; pluralism; long–range planning; and carefully selected language that wouldn’t be offensive to any group. Rush Limbaugh and all of the Rush wannabes in each media market would soon be silent.

The right didn’t go away. The liberal lobbying group, People for the American Way, estimates that the religious right made significant inroads in November, winning “hundreds, if not thousands, of seats in school boards, city councils, water districts and the like” (Mydans, Feb. 26, 1993). In 500 races monitored by People for the American Way, fundamentalist Christian candidates won about 40 percent of them because of religious right involvement. Members of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition continue to make inroads in state Republican parties in Oregon, Iowa, and elsewhere. At present, they can’t have their way on their agenda for choice and vouchers, but they can stop things from happening.

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