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Article

Federalism, Decentralization, Intergovernmental Relations, and Educational Provision in Five Latin American Countries  

Gilda Cardoso de Araujo

Federalism is a common object of study in various fields, including political science, economics, law, and history. In the field of education, however, the analysis of how educational policies are shaped by federal contexts is relatively recent. Despite the influence of U.S. constitutionalism and federalism, the historical trajectory of both Latin American federalisms and the distribution of responsibility for providing education are characterized by a centralizing federalism. This was the case at least until the final years of the 20th century when decentralizing processes based on cooperative intergovernmental relations, linked to a transfer of authority that limited the equitable provision—both in quality and quantity—of public education began.

Article

Inclusive Education and European Educational Policy  

Amanda Watkins

The concept of inclusive education and the way it is considered within the educational policy frameworks of European countries have changed and are still changing. Inclusive education is increasingly being understood as a systemic approach to education for all learners of any age; the goal is to provide all learners with meaningful, high-quality educational opportunities in their local community, alongside their friends and peers. There is a need to examine the policy of inclusive education, both its recent changes and its future direction, that European countries are undertaking, highlighting implications for both practitioners and academic researchers. Such an examination should not focus on practice—that is, the actual implementation of country policy—or on academic research into policy or practice for inclusive education in countries. Rather, it should focus on recent policy developments that are shaping practice in European schools, as well as potential future developments. The key messages emerging from a consideration of the European experience are highly applicable to other global regions.

Article

Sweden and Education as a Market  

Lisbeth Lundahl

Since the late 1970s, the relationship between the state, the public sector, and the economy has undergone a profound transformation globally toward privatization, commercialization, and market organization. Pronounced marketization of education has occurred even in the Nordic countries, traditionally characterized as having social democratic/universalistic and egalitarian welfare systems, but with considerable national variations. Sweden has caught international attention by introducing unusually far-reaching, state-supported privatization of educational provision and strong incentives for school choice and competition. Central issues addressed include the factors associated with the exceptionally swift and far-reaching market reforms in Sweden, as well as the persistence of the resulting system and its consequences according to current research. A hasty reform decision, paucity of envisioned alternatives, and the appeal of school choice for an expanding middle-class contributed to the neoliberal turn in Swedish education politics. Generous rules of establishment and possibilities of profit-making attracted big businesses, particularly after the decision in the mid-1990s to fully tax-fund independent “free” schools. Within a 10-year period, substantial proportions of the schools were owned and run by large, profit-making companies and chains. Research has shown that the school choice and privatization reforms, besides providing parents and young people in the urban areas with a vast smorgasbord of schools, have fueled growing educational inequity and segregation since the 1990s. Despite increasing criticism of the design of school choice and profit-making in education from many sides, recently even from conservative–liberal media and politicians, the Swedish “market school system” persists and flourishes.

Article

Network Ethnography as an Approach for the Study of New Governance Structures in Education  

Catarina Player-Koro

Network ethnography was first developed for the study of organizations built around digital media, and is an amalgam of different research methods derived from traditional ethnography and social network analysis. It was then further adapted to study contemporary policy mobility and governance structures, and could be summarized as an adaptation of ethnographic methods to the way contemporary organizations and associations are working due to the globalization and digitalization of society. Network ethnography involves a mapping of the policy field under study using techniques from social network analysis. Data production and analysis of mobilities and interactions within the network are conducted with network ethnography, a method that shares the fundamental principle of ethnography as a tradition. This allows the researcher to analyze network activities and evolutions, how social relations are established and performed, and how policy is being moved—and fixed—through these activities.

Article

Professional Standards for Educational Leadership  

Michelle D. Young

Standards are used in a variety of professional fields to identify core elements of practice within the field as well as to describe a desired level of performance. The first set of standards for the field of educational leadership in the United States was introduced in 1996 by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC). Since then, they have become the de facto national standards for educational leaders. The ISLLC standards have been updated three times and were recently renamed Professional Standards for School Leaders (PSEL) under the authority of the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA). Over this same period of time, multiple sets of sister standards (e.g., standards for leadership preparation) have emerged as have evaluation tools and practice resources. Soon after their release, a variety of concerns were raised about the standards and their potential impact on the practice of education leadership, particularly school level leadership. Some argued that the standards were too broad, while others argued that they were too specific. Similarly, concerns were raised about the focus of the standards and what was left out or only weakly included. These and other concerns continued to plague newer versions of the standards. Concerns notwithstanding, today, educational leadership standards are fully embedded in the lifeworld of the educational leadership profession. They have been adopted and adapted by states, districts, professional organizations, and accrediting bodies and used in a variety of ways, including: setting expectations for educational leadership preparation and practice, state certification, leadership recruitment, professional development and support, and evaluating leadership practice.

Article

Professional Political and Contextual Considerations of Policy Borrowing  

Adam E. Nir

We live in a globalized world characterized by rapid changes. These circumstances force public educational systems to innovate and introduce new policies that may potentially enhance the quality of their educational processes and outcomes and increase the relevance of educational services that schools provide to their communities. The complexity of educational policy setting and the constant flow of ideas and information coming from all around the world increase the attractiveness of policy plans that have been proved successful elsewhere. The tendency to learn from the positive experiences of others and use successful educational policies created in one national context in another is termed educational policy borrowing. The cross-national transfer of educational best practices which has become prevalent allows local policymakers a better understanding of their own systems of education. It may also raise the quality of educational policies and encourage the application of specific practices and ideas in local educational contexts.

Article

Critical Qualitative Research and Educational Policy  

Madeline Good and Sarah Diem

Critical qualitative research is full of possibilities and explorations that can assist in transforming systems for social change and the public good. It is an approach to research that at its core is concerned with the role of power; how it manifests in systems, structures, policies, and practice; and how contexts can contribute to and reify power and its deleterious effects. The use of critical qualitative methods and methodologies within the field of education has grown significantly since the 1990s. This is a large area of work that encompasses studies throughout the spectrum of educational topics, from early childhood learning to higher education and beyond. In the area of educational policy, while scholars use a multitude of critical qualitative methodologies and methods, critical policy analysis (CPA) has continued to grow in popularity. CPA provides opportunities for researchers to question policy in general––how it is formed, implemented, and evaluated, as well as its assumed impact. It is appealing because it gives space for scholars to not only critique educational policy issues but also offer new perspectives, approaches, and alternatives to the policy process. Critical inquiry, however, does not occur within a vacuum, so the dynamics of conducting critical qualitative research within a hyperpolarized sociopolitical context must also be considered. Contentious times make it increasingly important for critical qualitative scholars to (re)commit to the work of transforming education with the goal of creating a more just society. There are a multitude of hopes and opportunities for this burgeoning area of critical research, challenging us all to not only look toward creative approaches when studying issues of educational policy but also to persistently interrogate how our own positionalities and relations impact the work we do.

Article

Politics, Policy, and Practice of Teacher Education Reform in India  

Poonam Batra

Educational reform measures adopted in India since early liberalization led to systemic changes in the provisioning and practice of school and teacher education. Despite judicial intervention, the state withdrew from the responsibility of developing institutional capacity to prepare teachers, leading to a de facto public policy that undermines the potential role of teachers and their education in achieving equitable, quality education. The policy narrative constructed around quality and knowledge created the logic of marginalizing the teacher, undermining the teacher’s agency and the need for epistemic engagement. Commitment to the Constitution-led policy frame was gradually subverted by a polity committed to privatizing education and a bureaucracy committed to incrementalism and suboptimal solutions to the several challenges of universalizing quality education. A discourse constructed around teachers, their education, and practice led to narrowing curriculum to a disconnected set of learning outcomes and putting the onus of learning on the child. In the absence of robust institutional monitoring of the Right to Education effort and poor fiscal and teacher provisioning, this act too became a target of neoliberal reform, leading to dilution. The wedge between the constitutional aims of education and market-based reforms has become sharper as the practice of education prioritizes narrow economic self-interest over crucial public and social concerns. This has gradually hollowed out the Constitution-centered national policy perspective on education as critical to the needs of India’s disadvantaged and plural society. A major fallout of this has been the decoupling of concerns for social justice from those for quality education.

Article

Inclusive and Special Education Policies in South America  

Andrés Payà

In the last decade, inclusive education policies have been one of the priorities within the pedagogical and social agendas of different South American countries. However, the great complexity and enormous diversity of both concepts (inclusive education and South America) demand a detailed analysis of what it means to strive for educational progress throughout such an extensive territory. On the one hand, inclusive education encompasses both traditional special education as well as other key issues that are closely linked: equity, quality, diversity, universality, access, participation, intersectionality, rights, individualization, and so on. On the other hand, South America is a real, complex, multifaceted territory in which different countries with very different political, economic, and social situations coexist (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela). As such, it is necessary to begin with comparative education and educational policy in order to understand the different educational priorities of each region as well as the organizations and stakeholders that have an impact. The development of inclusive education has not been uniform. Indeed, because there is no consensus regarding what inclusion means and represents, though there have been correlations, its evolution has been unequal throughout different countries. A study of both national and transnational inclusive educational policies will allow us to better understand and approximate this complex reality, as well as to anticipate forthcoming educational challenges.

Article

Educational Policy and Curriculum Studies  

Pamela J. Konkol, Peter C. Renn, and Sophia Rodriguez

Since 1978, the Committee on Academic Standards and Accreditation (CASA, a standing committee of the American Educational Studies Association) has maintained the Standards for Academic and Professional Instruction in Foundations of Education, Educational Studies, and Educational Policy Studies. The Standards are a policy document intended as a powerful curriculum policy tool for faculty and higher education administrators across North America to use to develop foundations and educator preparation programming with disciplinary integrity and to maintain said programs with fidelity. As pressures to provide accountability and improvement measures or attach outcomes to disciplines in education increase, especially teacher education, foundations faculty and programs are challenged in their efforts to both build strong foundations programming and resist the push to dilute or otherwise embed the intellectual and practical work of the discipline into other, mostly unrelated, courses. The Standards provide language and support for foundations scholars housed in teacher education departments to hone their craft, generate good programming, and develop good scholars and P–12 practitioners.

Article

Inclusive Educational Principles, Policies, and Practices in Italy  

Paola Aiello and Erika Marie Pace

The Italian education system has gained prominence worldwide thanks to its pioneering history in initiating the process of mainstreaming students with disabilities, in providing educational plans tailored to students’ needs, and in the gradual broadening of the vision of inclusion as a means to guarantee quality education for all. At the same time, teacher education programs have reinvigorated their key role in preparing and supporting teachers who are inclusive of all students. Several factors over the past 50 years have been fundamental in shaping the way inclusion is perceived in the 21st century. First, the theoretical frameworks underpinning pedagogy and teaching practices have undergone a complete paradigm shift from an individualized-medical model to a biopsychosocial model, bringing about a new challenge for all stakeholders involved. Second, in line with this evolution, latest reforms and ministerial provisions in initial teacher education and continuous professional development are evidence of the change in perspective regarding the teachers’ pivotal role in promoting and facilitating inclusive practices. However, this shift has not only called for a rethinking of the teachers’ pedagogical and didactic stances. It has also entailed a reconsideration of the necessary professional competencies, understood as a complex interplay of pedagogical knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to be able to implement effective teaching methods and strategies that favor inclusion. Thus, it has placed a heavy responsibility on teacher education institutions to ensure that current and future teachers are ready, willing, and able to face the complexity characterizing 21st-century classrooms. Italian schools have also been doing their utmost to ensure better school experiences for all their students. An array of projects, both ministerially funded and school-based schemes, have been designed and implemented to create universally functional curricula to meet all the students’ learning styles and promote inclusion. One of the most important lessons to be learned from these intricate developments and initiatives is that collaboration among all stakeholders on micro, meso, and macro levels lies at the heart of effective and sustainable inclusive education.

Article

21st-Century Skills and Current Nordic Educational Reforms  

Gunn Elisabeth Søreide, Hanne Riese, and Line Torbjørnsen Hilt

Twenty-first-century skills are a global network of corporate and governmental influences that promote competences suited to fit the future knowledge economy. The competences described as 21st-century skills vary across frameworks and initiatives, but the emphasis is predominantly on metacognitive, social, and emotional skills. Some of the most prevalent capabilities are learning to learn, self-regulation, in-depth learning, creativity, innovation, problem solving, critical thinking, ethical and emotional awareness, communication, and collaboration. Research tends to portray 21st-century skills initiatives either as evidence-based knowledge based on the latest research or as part of an economization of the learner to the interests of the market economy in line with neoliberal ideology. The ideas associated with the 21st-century skills movement have nevertheless become part of educational reforms worldwide and are currently also translated into a Nordic education policy context. When global ideas such as 21st-century skills are taken up and used, they are colored by national concerns and consequently change as they travel across contexts. The Norwegian LK-20 reform for compulsory and upper secondary school is an example of how policymakers include global educational ideas in the national curriculum and educational policy, by balancing core 21st-century skills elements with national cultural sentiments about assessment, childhood, educational purposes, and schools’ responsibilities. The balancing of global and national educational ideas can be done by promoting 21st-century skills as a solution to specific national challenges and thus urgent for pupils’ and the nation’s future. A more sophisticated technique is when policymakers frame 21st-century skills by familiar concepts and language associated with existing traditional national educational values, thus seemingly promoting change and continuation simultaneously. In such an intersection between global educational ideas and national educational sentiments, both core elements of the 21st-century skills as well as the more traditional educational concepts and values can be adjusted and altered.

Article

Postwar School Reforms in Norway  

Harald Thuen and Nina Volckmar

Comprehensive schooling has been a cornerstone in the development of the Norwegian welfare state since World War II. Over the years it has been extended, initially from 7 to 9 years and later to 10-year compulsory schooling, since the late 1990s including virtually all Norwegian children between the ages of 6 and 16. In education policy, the interests of the community versus the individual have played a key role, reflected in a line of conflict between the political left and right. During the first three to four decades after the war, through the Labor Party, the left wing was in power and developed education policy according to a social-democratic model. The ideal of equality and community in schools had precedence. The vision was to create a school for all that had a socially and culturally unifying effect on the nation and its people. Social background, gender, and geographical location should no longer create barriers between pupils. Ideally, school was to be understood as a “miniature democracy,” where pupils would be trained in solidarity and cooperation. Compulsory schooling was thus regarded as an instrument for social integration and for evening out social inequalities. But one challenge remained: How could a common school for all best take care of the individual needs of each pupil? The principle of individualized teaching within the framework of a common school was incorporated in the education policy of social democracy and was subjected to experimentation and research from an early stage. But with the political shift to the right toward the 2000s, a sharper polarization can be observed between the interests of the community versus the interests of the individual. The political right profiles education policy in opposition to the left-wing emphasis on the social purpose of the school system. In the early 21st century, the interests of knowledge, the classroom as a learning arena, and the performance of each pupil take precedence. Based on the model of New Public Management, a new organizational culture is taking shape in the school system. Where the political left formed its policy from the perspective of “equality” during the first postwar decades, the right is now forming it from the perspective of “freedom.” And this is taking place without significant opposition from the left. The terms “equality” and “equity” provide the framework for the analysis of the changing polarity between collective and individual considerations and between pupils’ freedom and social solidarity in postwar education.