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Article

Sonya Douglass Horsford, Dessynie D. Edwards, and Judy A. Alston

Research on Black women superintendents has focused largely on their racial and gendered identities and the challenges associated with negotiating the politics of race and gender while leading complex school systems. Regarding the underrepresentation of Black female superintendents, an examination of Black women’s experiences of preparing for, pursuing, attaining, and serving in the superintendency may provide insights regarding their unique ways of knowing and, leading that, inform their leadership praxis. Informed by research on K-12 school superintendency, race and gender in education leadership, and the lived experiences and knowledge claims of Black women superintendents, important implications for future research on the superintendency will be hold. There exists a small but growing body of scholarly research on Black women education leaders, even less on the Black woman school superintendent, who remains largely underrepresented in education leadership research and the field. Although key studies have played an important role in establishing historical records documenting the service and contributions of Black women educational leaders in the United States, the bulk of the research on Black women superintendents can be found in dissertation studies grounded largely in the works of Black women education leadership scholars and practitioners. As a growing number of aspiring and practicing leaders who identify as Black women enter graduate-level leadership preparation programs and join the ranks of educational administration, questions concerning race and gender in leadership are almost always present as the theories presented in leadership preparation programs often conflict with or represent set of perspectives, realities, and strategies that may not align with those experienced by leaders who identify as Black women. For these reasons, their leadership perspectives, epistemologies, and contributions are essential to our understanding of the superintendency and field of educational leadership.

Article

Despite the ubiquity of categories of race, sexuality, and gender in K–12 schools in the United States, there is limited research documenting how these categories influence the experiences of students, reflecting constraints on knowledge production, particularly with respect to queer of Color theories in education. Within the research that exists, scholars have used varying paradigms of difference, some of which erase and others of which recognize and theorize the relationships between race and queerness. Many studies have described intersecting structures of domination in U.S. schools and the lack of attention to intersectionality in school-based supports for queer youth. Fewer studies document examples of student resistance and activism, suggesting needs for future theorizing, research, and practice. Although the bodies of students, educators, staff, and family members in K–12 schools have been and continue to be understood through categories of race, sexuality, and gender, there is limited empirical research discussing the ways that race and queerness are co-constitutive of people’s experiences in the U.S. schooling system. In part, scholarly knowledge production has been constrained because of schools’ hostility to queer research and critical projects more generally, with queer research, and especially queer of Color research, often producing oppositional knowledge in tension with schools as state-sanctioned institutions. When research has been conducted about race and queerness in U.S. schools, scholars have used three main paradigms to conceptualize, or problematically erase, the relationship between race and queerness: discrete, additive, and intersectional perspectives. Discreteness suggests that race and queerness are separate, disconnected identities. The other two perspectives recognize interrelationships. An additive perspective suggests that identities are a sum of parts, whereas an intersectional perspective suggests identities as co-constitutive and resulting in unique, qualitatively different experiences. Research attending to the relationships of race and queerness has revealed that U.S. schools are unwelcoming if not outright hostile to queer youth, resulting in negative consequences such as lowered academic achievement and poorer psychological well-being. The particular experiences of and reactions to such marginalization vary with respect to intersections of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and social class. Although school-based supports such as supportive educators, inclusive curriculum and policies, and extracurricular clubs are beneficial, too frequently these supports lack attention to intersections of race and queerness, limiting their beneficial impact. These tensions show the need for intersectional coalition building approaches to a key element of anti-racist queer educational activism. Importantly, queer youth enact resistance and activism in schools in ways that are individualized and collective. Some resistance has been school-sanctioned (such as writing) and other instances beyond what schools sanction (such as violence). Collective forms were most common as queer youth of Color often drew on embodied and community knowledges to advocate for themselves and peers. In the absence of broader support, queer youth often used privilege, such as whiteness, as protection and thus reified oppressive values and practices. Future educational research needs to focus further on the intersections of race and queerness to help inform educational theories and practices to help queer youth, both white and of Color, learn and flourish in U.S. schools.

Article

Since the 1980s there has been significant reform in the development, delivery, and evaluation of all areas of public policy and services provision, including schooling. The reforms are prompted by a general “turn” from direct government determination and provision of public services to indirect governance undertaken by a mixture of public, private, and philanthropic actors. Orthodoxies about public sector governance and schooling system reform have shifted over this time from a preference for bureaucracy to preferences for markets, contracts, and most recently social networks. Schooling system governance in many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries has seen devolution of substantial statutory powers, responsibilities, and accountabilities to local parent communities or shared-interest coalitions, both for-profit and not-for-profit. Schooling policy, governance, and services provision work is now distributed across multiple state, parastatal, and nongovernmental actors. Trust in the actions of others within devolved and distributed systems is identified as an essential social lubricant of contemporary schooling governance and reform. Studies of the role played by trust in schooling systems remain relatively rare.

Article

In an age of increasing automation, what separates a human process from automation is the flexibility and autonomy human beings have and operate with in real time. Despite the fact that humans are driven by autonomy to operate and process things, such autonomy is often taken for granted and at times is only alluded to as an afterthought. But what is autonomy? How does autonomy make a person’s actions differ from those of an automated, inanimate being? Autonomy is often talked about as synonymous with freedom. This basic characterization partially responds to the fuller meaning of autonomy. This is the case when freedom is confined to freedom from, which is most often how this concept is used. Autonomy as an internal drive to determine one’s actions necessarily combines both freedom from as well as freedom to. It is no simpler to discuss or pin down “autonomy” within the context of university traditions and practices. The variability of practices and traditions has resulted in different formulations of what autonomy would mean in a university context. Similar to what determines autonomy as concept at an individual personal level, the autonomy of the academic or the academic institution, in this case the university, also brings forth specific understandings of life and its processes. Just as autonomy cannot exist without any forms of life to exercise it, the conditions in African universities today mean that neither traditional communitarian positions nor liberal conceptions are necessarily amenable to the progress of autonomy within these institutions. A neo-communitarian position serves as a more tenable concept that can represent forms of autonomy that are neither alienating nor too deterministic.

Article

Christopher B. Crowley

The study of the curriculum and educational knowledge is a study of ideology. The curriculum is never neutral. It always reflects or embodies ideological positions. Ideologies present within the curriculum are negotiated and formulated through multilayered processes of strategic compromise, assent, and resistance. And as such, the curriculum ideologies become operationalized in both overt and hidden means—constructing subjects and objects of knowledge in active as well as passive ways. Teaching is always a political act, and discussions and debates over curriculum ideologies have a long history within the field of curriculum studies. In terms of its function related to the organization and valuing of knowledge, it remains important to recognize not only the contested nature of the curriculum but also how such contestations have ideological dimensions in the framing of the curriculum. Curriculum ideologies manifest in terms of what might be thought of as values, visions of the future, and venues or forms. This is to say, the curriculum is imbued with processes for valuing assumed choices related to its design, development, and implementation. These choices draw from ideologically based assumptions about the curriculum’s basis in political, economic, historical, sociocultural, psychological, and other realities—whether they be discursive or material in effect. Additionally, these curriculum choices also pertain to the means by which the curriculum achieves these goals or objectives through the formulation of designed experiences, activities, or other forms of learning opportunities. The curriculum—in certain regards as finding principle in the conveying of knowledge through a system of organization related to an outset purpose—has, as a central component to some degree, a vision of a future. The curriculum is something simultaneously constructed and enacted in the present, with often the expressed purpose of having implications and ramifications for the future. The curriculum’s role and purpose in constructing both tested and untested or imagined feasibilities again has to do with some type of vision of learning inflected by ideology. This may even take the form of envisioning a future that is actually a vision of the past in some form, or perhaps a returning to a remembered time that may have existed for some but not others, or by extension a similarly romanticized remembering of a mythic past, for instance. Ultimately, the curriculum, whether translated into practice or in being developed conceptually, is in all likelihood never exclusively one of these, but instead is in all probability an amalgamation of such to differing degrees wherein a multitude of possibilities and combinations exist. Among the key questions of curriculum studies that remain central in terms of both analyzing and theorizing the curriculum are: Whose knowledge counts and what is worthwhile? These questions help to raise to a level of concern the ideological underpinnings of all curricula in ways that through sustained critical dialog might work to collectively build a more sustainably just and equitable world.

Article

Teacher education regulation in India is generally perceived as an apolitical technical domain that operates on a set of given norms. In principle the regulatory instruments are believed to be pursuing the goals of professionalizing and enhancing quality in teacher education, which have been longstanding issues in the country. Given this perception, teacher education regulations (and policy) remain much understudied by educationists and social scientists. However, an analysis of the developments and debates in the regulatory policy points otherwise. A critical analysis of the successive national regulatory frameworks and norms which consists of tracking changes and reforming ideas highlights that policy and regulatory decision making in teacher education is highly contested, with different coalitions of scholars and practitioners claiming stakes in the domain. These contestations are inherently connected with the tensions that underlie or constitute the “discipline” of education. These contestations and dynamics allude to various issues of which at least three need much greater attention. The first among these concerns is the centralization of regulatory powers and standardized regulatory norms for different kinds of institutions in teacher education, which makes it difficult to allow for diversity in the domain. The second issue concerns limited autonomy of university departments of education and of location of teacher education in the university space that has its own regulatory frameworks. The third issue is the lack of dialogue between research, policy, and practice in teacher education that makes it more challenging to arrive at “generally-agreed-upon” rational bases for regulating or policy thinking for quality in teacher education. These issues have been persistent in the grammar of the regulatory instruments and illustrate the peculiar challenges of imagining and implementing “reform” in a praxis-based nationally regulated domain.

Article

Yariv Feniger, Yossi Shavit, and Shir Caller

Education in Israel is compulsory and free, from the age of three to the end of secondary school (12th grade). Compulsory education culminates in matriculation examinations that serve as the main criterion for enrollment in higher education. Although Israel is geographically small, and ethnic and religious subpopulations live in close proximity to one another, they are highly segregated both residentially and in schools. The Jewish and Arab school sectors are almost completely separate. Most Arab students study in Arab state schools, where the language of instruction is Arabic and the staff are Arab. Jewish students study in state, state religious, or independent ultra-Orthodox schools. The high degree of economic inequality in Israel is reflected in educational inequality, which is the highest among the countries participating in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Inequalities between social strata are affected in part by the economic circumstances of families in early childhood. Inequality in educational achievement is particularly evident between Jews and Arabs but it is also prominent within each of these two societies. The public educational system is centralized and curricula are standardized, but religious Jewish groups enjoy considerable organizational and curricular autonomy. Arab state schools, in contrast, do not enjoy similar autonomy. Rapid expansion of higher education has contributed to a dramatic increase in graduation rates in all social categories but large gaps remain, especially along ethnoreligious lines, in graduation rates, fields of study, and quality of institutions attended.

Article

The mid-20th century marked the birth of higher education systems in the majority of the 22 Arabic-speaking countries. Driven by post-independence nationalism, ruling elites deemed education, including higher education, as a crucial part of nation-state building, next to the development of the army, bureaucracy, and economy. With government funding, new public universities were established throughout the region. Enrollment steadily increased as governments expanded access to higher education through lax admission and free or highly subsidized admission, and often guaranteeing employment for university graduates in the public sector. By the end of the 20th century, higher education became widely accessible in most Arab countries, but decades of neglect have led to a crisis in quality and research. Academic quality has deteriorated under the weight of decades of neglect from overcrowded classrooms, outdated curriculum, poor pedagogy, underpaid faculty, lack of quality mechanisms, strapped budget to limited autonomy. No more encouraging is the universities’ role as a center of knowledge discovery and innovation, given their lack of adequate qualified human and necessary physical resources. The low performance of public universities on the global ranking systems and the high unemployment rate among university graduates sums up the Arab higher education system’s inauspicious condition. During the last two decades, governments enacted various reform measures. To relieve overcrowded public universities and reduce public finance burden, countries in the region authorized private higher education. Consequently, the number of private universities has mushroomed, many of which are for-profit and exclusively focused on teaching. However, a shortage of cash and limited freedom to manage academic and administrative affairs continue to beset most public institutions. Some countries have made incremental changes, such as introduced measures to increase equity, endorsed new admission policies, and established accreditation and quality assurance bodies. The Gulf countries undertook far-reaching measures to transform the system. Cushioned by oil and gas revenues and a relatively small population, the six Gulf countries have invested considerably in upgrading public universities’ infrastructure, hiring faculty and administrative staff from abroad, and developing a research infrastructure including establishing new research-oriented universities. Consequently, the Arab higher education landscape has become increasingly diversified and with growing differences among countries. To compare the Arab countries on their current state of their higher education system, the countries are ranked on an index composed of three key aspects: access to higher education (gross enrollment ratio), equity (gross enrollment ratio for female), and publication intensity (citable documents per million inhabitants). The ranking shows the Gulf countries vying for the top spots. At the low end of the rank are countries which have been conflict-ridden or poverty-stricken.

Article

Lesson study (jyugyo kenkyu) is an approach to professional development that originated in Japan 150 years ago. It was first introduced to the United States in the late 1990s and is now widely practiced in over 50 countries. Lesson study is often perceived as an effective form of professional development aiming to improve mathematics and science instruction, motivated by the high performances of Japanese students as evaluated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, lesson study is more than a model for professional development. Lesson study has developed dynamically over time, accommodating educational contexts and the needs of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. Nowadays, lesson study is used as an approach to lesson analysis, curriculum development, practice-oriented research, demonstration lessons, and various forms and levels of professional development. Lesson study continues to be practiced in the early 21st century as the practice is socially constructed and context-dependent; thus, lesson study is flexible in adapting to the local system. This flexibility and adaptability make it difficult to grasp the comprehensive picture of lesson study. Understanding the unique Japanese educational contexts that have supported lesson study is essential for foreign practitioners and researchers of lesson study as the lack of the necessary supporting conditions often poses challenges for implementing lesson study abroad. Lesson study continues to exist in the early 21st century as it has been facilitated by sociocultural norms in a Japanese educational context and has built upon the professional traditions of Japanese teachers. The focus is on discussing the sociocultural contexts that have supported the dynamic development of lesson study since the late 19th century. For this purpose, “sociocultural” refers to the theoretical space of social relations and cultural practice (Dowling, 2009). For example, a collaborative school culture is not a fixed state or end-product but negotiated through the social relations of the school system that regulates the daily responsibilities, actions, and interactions among managers, teachers, and students around the shared goals. Lesson study has developed under the influence of various factors, including educational theories, approaches, and ideologies, both domestically and abroad. Lesson study is supported by a holistic approach in terms of many aspects such as student learning, teacher-initiated inquiry centered on student learning, the culture of collaboration in professional development, collaboration between teachers and researchers, personal, contextual, and narrative reflection on teaching experience, and flexibility in the learning system that works to address the needs of the educational issues of the time. Nonetheless, contesting forces have contributed to the diversification of lesson study: (a) policymakers’ efforts to standardize lessons and bottom-up initiatives of teachers to experiment with practice; (b) top-down efforts to institutionalize professional development and bottom-up efforts on the part of teachers to work together to realize their educational ideals; and (c) scientific investigation by researchers and narrative, descriptive and subjective reflections on practice by teachers.

Article

Michelle Parker-Katz and Joseph Passi

Special education curriculum is often viewed as an effort to provide ways for students with disabilities to meet specific academic and socio-/behavioral goals and is also heavily influenced by compliance with multiple legislative policies. Critical paths forward are needed to reshape a special education curriculum by using a humanizing approach in which students’ lived experiences and relatedness to self and others is at the core of study. Intentional study of how students and their families draw upon, develop, and help shape local supports and services that are provided through schools, along with community and governmental agencies and organizations, would become a major part of the new curricular narrative. However, the field of special education has been in large part derived from an epistemology rooted in science, positivism, and the medical model. The dominance of these coalescing epistemologies in educational systems has produced a myriad of structures and processes that implicitly dictate the ways special educators instruct, gather data, and practice. Core among those is a view that disability is synonymous with deficit and abnormality. What emerges is an entrenched and often implicit view that the person with disabilities must be fixed. In adopting a humanistic approach in which we value relationships, the funds of knowledge families have helped develop in their children and the identities individuals shape, and the linkages of persons with multiple community networks, the groundwork could be laid for a new curricular narrative to form. In so doing, the field could get closer to the grounding principle of helping all students with disabilities to thrive. For it is in communities that people can thrive and choose to participate in numerous life opportunities. In such a way curriculum is integral to lived experience, to the fullness and richness of lived experiences—lived experiences that include the study of academic subject matter along with the development of social and emotional learning.