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Article

Reimagining University Partnerships with Local Schools in the United States  

Karen L. B. Burgard and Melissa M. Jozwiak

Developing a successful university–school partnership has been a topic for research since the early 1900s. In this case study, faculty members at one university in the southern United States believes they may have found one possible answer. This university has been working toward forming a partnership with three local schools to bring about transformative change to the schools and the community. Through this collaboration, faculty members sought to intentionally trouble the pervasive top-down approach many universities take when communicating with schools and to disrupt the savior complexes that often center on these efforts. Instead, by starting to identify the community needs, listening intently to the community desire for future changes in local schools, and working in solidarity with the community, sustainable partnerships were formed, and meaningful change has already happened in the short term. Creating multi-layered relationships rooted in a commitment to culturally relevant/responsive and sustaining pedagogy, the partnerships began with a shared vision between the university and the schools to work collaboratively, responding to the individual needs of each school and the surrounding community. The university faculty members committed to working in and with the community understand that centering the culture of the community in all partnership discussions was tantamount to their success, demonstrating that cultural relevance should not be confined to the walls of the university classroom, but rather, should be a guiding principle in all interactions between universities, local schools, and communities. The success of these partnerships, and the strong relationships built as a result, has created a possible model for future university–school partnerships.

Article

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

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

Transformational School Leadership to Dismantle Inequitable Systems  

Deirdra Preis

A key reason for the failure of U.S. school leaders to challenge systems of inequity is the lack of exposure to the theory and skill development needed to manage the resistance and political challenges that inevitably occur when interrogating unjust traditions of practice. As preparation programs aim to improve their candidates’ future success in addressing inequitable educational access, it is critical that they develop in their students the self-efficacy around relational practices and strategies needed to manage the micropolitics of transformative work. Examining how transformative K–12 school leaders effectively challenge structural inequities and manage to sustain their leadership positions during turbulent times can help to inform such curricular and instructional revisions. Some of the key practices identified by successful transformative K–12 leaders include engaging in reflection around their positionality, developing racial literacy, effectively facilitating shared visions and collective responsibility for social justice advocacy, building the capacity of stakeholders, developing critical alliances through transparent and authentic community involvement, and participating in supportive professional peer networks that offer ongoing reflection, study, and support. By providing such content and skill practice, and ensuring that instruction and mentoring are provided by faculty who are experienced in transformative leadership, leader candidates can be better prepared for the realities of this challenging work, increasing the likelihood that they will act transformatively upon assuming school leadership roles.

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.