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School Reform, Educational Governance, and Discourses on Social Justice and Democratic Education in Germany  

Mechtild Gomolla

In Germany, at the beginning of the 2000s, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) not only served as a catalyst for the development and implementation of an overall strategy for quality assurance and development of the state school systems. The school effectiveness movement has also brought the issue of educational inequality, which had been lost out of sight in the 1980s, back on the agenda. In ongoing reforms, the improvement of the educational success of children and young people with a migration history and/or a socioeconomically deprived family background has been declared a priority. However similar to the situation in Anglo-American countries, where output-oriented and data-driven school reforms have been implemented since the 1980s, considerable tensions and contradictions became visible between the New Educational Governance and a human rights- and democracy-oriented school development. A Foucauldian discourse analysis of central education and integration policy documents at the federal political level from 1964 to 2019 examined how, and with what consequences, demands of inclusion, social justice, and democracy were incorporated, (re)conceptualized, distorted, or excluded in the New Educational Governance, which was a new type of school reform in Germany. The results of the study indicate that the new regulations of school development are far from shaping school conditions in a human rights–based understanding of inclusion and democratic education. The plethora of measures taken to improve the school success of children and young people with a history of migration (in interaction with other dimensions of inequality such as poverty, gender, or special educational needs) is undermined by a far-reaching depoliticization of discourse and normative revaluations. In the interplay of epistemology, methodology, and categories of school effectiveness research with managerialist steering instruments, spaces for democratic school development and educational processes, in which aspects of plurality, difference, and discrimination can be thematized and addressed in concerted professional action, appear to be systematically narrowed or closed. But the case of Germany also discloses some opposed tendencies, associated with the strengthened human rights discourse and new legislation to combat discrimination.

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

Parental Involvement in the United States  

Amy Shuffelton

Parental involvement is frequently touted as a key part of any solution to the achievement gap in US schools. Yet the mainstream model of parental involvement has been challenged on the grounds that it neglects parents’ political agency, the cultural diversity of families, and the empirical evidence of limited efficacy. This article argues that to understand parental involvement’s promise and limitations, it is necessary to consider it in historical context. Accordingly, it traces the history of “parental involvement” as a policy goal through the past half century. It provides an account of the mainstream parental involvement research, as well as critiques. Ultimately, the article argues that parental involvement is neither boon nor bane. As an important aspect of the politics of public schooling, parental involvement has diverse effects, which can support or hinder equity and student success.

Article

School Culture  

Diana Gonçalves Vidal and André Paulilo

Over the past several decades, scholars have focused special attention on the relationship between schooling and culture. The first forays focused on curriculum matters, trying to understand how educational policies affected the selection of content and its dissemination in schools. More recently, the concept of school culture has emerged as a frame for researchers, thanks to its ability to problematize how teachers and pupils experience school in terms of time and space. Placing these individuals in the center of the schooling process, the concept of school culture enables scholars to create a more comprehensive analysis of what happens inside classrooms and schoolyards. This tool offers an opportunity for researchers and teachers to debate the merits of tradition and innovation in education, pay attention to material culture as a part of school practices, and consider school community as a social actor. The concept has become commonplace in the academic production in many areas, such as educational sociology, history of education, educational anthropology, philosophy of education, and educational psychology.