Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.
Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez
As Japanese society diversifies with an influx of foreigners, multicultural education has a critical role to play in achieving educational equity and affirming cultural diversity of students from various cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Since the 1980s, Japanese scholars and educators have introduced, interpreted, and reappropriated multicultural education from the West, and have developed the field in conjunction with different education genres (e.g., human rights education, Dowa education, Zainichi Korean education, and education for international understanding). Scholars often use the term multicultural coexistence education (tabunka kyosei kyoiku) to discuss the role of education to realize a society of multicultural coexistence. Contemporary debates and controversies regarding multicultural education focus on the “3F” (namely, food, festival, and fashion) approach, the absence of social justice perspectives, its narrow scope, and the invisibility of majority Japanese. Although the concept of multicultural education was imported from the West relatively recently, when the number of newcomer students increased in public schools during the early 1990s, Japan has its own versions of multicultural education, such as Dowa education and Zainichi Korean education. These forms of multicultural education policies and practices, which were primarily developed in the Kansai area, take a somewhat progressive approach toward achieving educational equity and reducing discrimination against minorities. Today, multicultural education is often associated with education for newcomer students. Although the national government has provided remedial education (e.g., Japanese language and adaptation classes) under the notion of equal treatment, numerous nonformal education sites have played critical roles in achieving equity and empowering newcomer students. Multicultural education policies and practices remain peripheral in Japan at the national government level; nevertheless, grass-roots movements have emerged where local governments, nonprofit organizations (NPOs), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), concerned teachers, researchers, minority youth and parents, and community organizers are attempting to transform assimilative education policies and practices into more equitable and inclusive ones. With the rise of multicultural coexistence (tabunka kyosei) discourse, Japanese society is taking incremental steps toward achieving the goals of multicultural education.
The neoliberal revolution negatively impacted the American society and educational system. Several major contributors to neoliberal thinking helped develop the theory. Two examples of utilizing neoliberal principles are the Sears corporation and the nation of Honduras, both teetering on the brink of collapse. The GINI Index can be used to provide insight into American economic inequality. Neoliberalism as a social movement and its impact on the American educational system are analyzed. Major conceptual components of neoliberalism, including competition, choice, privatization, standardization, accountability, marketing, and deregulation, are presented. Legislation using these principles include No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). The testing, voucher, and charter movements are discussed. Three kinds of charter schools together with their academic and segregating results are analyzed. Charter and voucher supporters have become active in the political process to increase the charter component of public education. Corruption in charters and vouchers and neoliberalism’s undermining of public support for public education is treated. Online education’s positive support for small and rural schools, particularly for high schools, is noted, as is online education’s assistance for credit recovery. Another impact of neoliberalism on public education is noted, that is treating charters and vouchers as commodities which provide opportunities for private investment.