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Education > Education Policy and Reform

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Elusive Equity

Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Edward B. Fiske and Helen F. Ladd

Elusive Equity chronicles South Africa's efforts to fashion a racially equitable state education system from the ashes of apartheid. The policymakers who came to power with Nelson Mandela in 1994 inherited and education system designed to further the racist goals of apartheid. Their massive challenge was to transform that system, which lavished human and financial resources on schools serving white students while systematically starving those serving African, coloured, and Indian learners, into one that would offer quality education to all persons, regardless of their race.

Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd describe and evaluate the strategies that South Africa pursued in its quest for racial equity. They draw on previously unpublished data, interviews with key officials, and visits to dozens of schools to describe the changes made in school finance, teacher assignment policies, governance, curriculum, higher education, and other areas. They conclude that the country has made remarkable progress toward equity in the sense of equal treatment of persons of all races. For several reasons, however, the country has been far less successful in promoting equal educational opportunity or educational adequacy. Thus equity has remained elusive.

The book is unique in combining the perceptive observations of a skilled education journalist with the analytical skills of an academic policy expert. Richly textured descriptions of how South Africa's education reforms have affected schools at the grass-roots level are combined with careful analysis of enrollment, governance, and budget data at the school, provincial, and national levels. The result is a compelling and comprehensive study of South Africa's first decade of education reform in the post-apartheid period.

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Employment Growth from Public Support of Innovation in Small Firms

Albert N. Link and John T. Scott

Link and Scott provide a statistical assessment of the employment growth associated with public support of R&D in small, entrepreneurial firms through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. While on the surface the SBIR program is generally intended to stimulate innovation leading to commercialization, and this is how government and scholars have historically judged the program, Link and Scott suggest that it may be assessed from a different perspective. To them, the extent to which long-term job creation results from public support of R&D should be evaluated.

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The End of Consensus

Diversity, Neighborhoods, and the Politics of Public School Assignments

Toby L. Parcel

One of the nation's fastest growing metropolitan areas, Wake County, North Carolina, added more than a quarter million new residents during the first decade of this century, an increase of almost 45 percent. At the same time, partisanship increasingly dominated local politics, including school board races. Against this backdrop, Toby Parcel and Andrew Taylor consider the ways diversity and neighborhood schools have influenced school assignment policies in Wake County, particularly during 2000-2012, when these policies became controversial locally and a topic of national attention. The End of Consensus explores the extraordinary transformation of Wake County during this period, revealing inextricable links between population growth, political ideology, and controversial K–12 education policies.

Drawing on media coverage, in-depth interviews with community leaders, and responses from focus groups, Parcel and Taylor's innovative work combines insights from these sources with findings from a survey of 1,700 county residents. Using a broad range of materials and methods, the authors have produced the definitive story of politics and change in public school assignments in Wake County while demonstrating the importance of these dynamics to cities across the country.

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Endangering Prosperity

A Global View of the American School

foreword by Lawrence H. Summers. Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann

The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity. In Endangering Prosperity, a trio of experts on international education policy compares the performance of American schools against that of other nations. The net result is a mixed but largely disappointing picture that clearly shows where improvement is most needed. The authors' objective is not to explain the deep causes of past failures but to document how dramatically the U.S. school system has failed its students and its citizens. It is a wake-up call for structural reform. To move forward to a different and better future requires that we understand just how serious a situation America faces today.

For example, the authors consider the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international mathematics examination. America is stuck in the middle of average scores, barely beating out European countries whose national economies are in the red zone. U.S. performance as measured against stronger economies is even weaker —in total, 32 nations outperformed the United States. The authors also delve into comparative reading scores. A mere 31 percent of U.S. students in the class of 2011 could perform at the "proficient" level as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) program, compared with South Korea's result of 47 percent. And while some observers may downplay the significance of cross-globe comparisons, they should note that Canadian students are dramatically outpacing their U.S. counterparts as well.

Clearly something is wrong with this picture, and this book clearly explicates the costs of inaction. The time for incremental tweaking the system is long past —wider, deeper, and more courageous steps are needed, as this book amply demonstrates with accessible prose, supported with hard data that simply cannot be ignored.

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Enhancing Diversity

Educators with Disabilities

Ronald J. Anderson, Clayton E. Keller, and Joan M. Karp, Editors

“This is a unique, timely, and relevant book that addresses the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of persons with disabilities who seek and achieve entry into professional life as educators. The contributors examine the importance of support services, the critical barriers to successful performance, and conclude by recommending actions that, if implemented, have the potential to facilitate entry into the field of education and create more and better opportunities for persons with disabilities.” --From the Foreword by Robert R. Davila, Former President, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC The 43 million people with disabilities form this country’s largest minority group, yet they are markedly under-employed as educators. Enhancing Diversity: Educators with Disabilities paves the way for correcting this costly omission. Editors Anderson, Karp, and Keller have called upon the knowledge of 19 other renowned contributors to address the important issues raised in Enhancing Diversity, including the place of disability in discussions of diversity in education, research on educators with disabilities that validates their capabilities, and information on the qualifications desired in and the demands made of education professionals. Legal precedents are cited and explained, and examples of efforts to place disabled educators are presented, along with recommendations on how disabled individuals and school administrators can work toward increased opportunities. Interviews with 25 disabled educators discussing how they satisfactorily fulfill their professional requirements completes this thoughtful-provoking book.

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Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-first Century

Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model

Edited by Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey

The institution of tenure—once a cornerstone of American colleges and universities—is rapidly eroding. Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century weighs the concerns of university administrators, professors, adjuncts, and students in order to investigate whether there are ways to modify the existing system or promote new faculty models without shortchanging students or cheapening the mission of academia. It also examines the opportunities these systemic changes might create, offering universities a guide for responding to the rapidly evolving needs of an increasingly global society.

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Ethical Considerations in Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Kathee Mangan Christensen, Editor

The education of deaf or hard of hearing children has become as complex as the varying needs of each individual child. Teachers face classrooms filled with students who are culturally Deaf, hard of hearing, or postlingually deaf. They might use American Sign Language, cochlear implants, hearing aids/FM systems, speech, Signed English, sign-supported speech, contact signing, nonverbal communication, or some combination of methods. Educators who decide what tools are best for these children are making far-reaching ethical decisions in each case. This collection features ten chapters that work as constructive conversations to make the diverse needs of these deaf students the primary focus. The initial essays establish fundamental points of ethical decision-making and emphasize that every situation should be examined not with regard for what is “right or wrong,” but for what is “useful.” Absolute objectivity is unattainable due to social influences, while “common knowledge” is ruled out in favor of “common awareness.” Other chapters deal with the reality of interpreting through the professional’s eyes, of how they are assessed, participate, and are valued in the total educational process, including mainstream environments. The various settings of education for deaf children are profiled, from residential schools to life in three cultures for deaf Latino students, to self-contained high school programs. Ethical Considerations in Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing offers an invaluable set of guidelines for administrators and educators of children with hearing loss in virtually every environment in a postmodern world.

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The Ethics and Politics of Speech

Communication and Rhetoric in the Twentieth Century

Pat J. Gehrke

The Ethics and Politics of Speech interrogates the ethical, political, and philosophical assumptions of American communication studies.  It examines essays, conference proceedings, and archival documents across the 20th century to generate a new approach to the ethics and politics of communication. 

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Excellence and Equity

The National Endowment for the Humanities

Stephen Miller

Since its establishment in 1965 the National Endowment for the Humanities has distributed many millions of dollars in grants. Has the money been well spent? What impact have the Endowment's programs had on the academic community, the schools, and the public at large?

In this first book-length study of the Endowment, Stephen Miller offers a trenchant analysis of the agency's origins, its accomplishments, and the criticisms leveled against it. In the political maneuvering that led to its establishment, Miller sees a basic misunderstanding between those in academia who lobbied for NEH and those in Congress who were its most enthusiastic supporters. The inevitable result was a confused mandate that has made the work of the Endowment and the policies of its four chairmen the focus of congressional and public criticism.

One group of critics has found NEH too elitist -- awarding too many grants to scholars at a few major universities. Others have regarded it as too populist -- expending too much on organizations that have little to do with the humanities. Still others regard its programs as simply a waste of the taxpayers' money.

Excellence and Equity explores the continuing political controversy surrounding NEH and its chairmen and assesses in detail its impact on the humanities in four major program areas: research, teaching, preservation, and public programs. The book concludes with recommendations for restructuring the Endowment, for revising its review procedures, and for improving the process by which its chairman is selected. Only through such changes, Miller argues, can we hope to foster humanistic scholarship in the coming decades.

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Excellence for All

How a New Breed of Reformers Is Transforming America's Public Schools

Jack Schneider

By the early twenty-first century, a startling consensus had emerged about the overall aim of American school reform. In an era of political discord, and in a field historically known for contentiousness, the notion of promoting educational excellence for all students was a distinct point of bipartisan agreement. Shaped by a corps of entrepreneurial reformers intent on finding “what works” and taking it to scale, this hybrid vision won over the nation’s most ambitious and well-resourced policy leaders at foundations and nonprofits, in state and federal government, and in urban school districts from coast to coast. “Excellence for all” might, at first glance, appear to be nothing more than a rhetorical flourish. Who, after all, would oppose the idea of a great education for every student? Yet it is hardly a throwaway phrase. Rather, it represents a surprising fusion of educational policy approaches that had been in tense opposition throughout the twentieth century—those on the right favoring social efficiency, and those on the left supporting social justice. This book seeks to understand why the “excellence for all” vision took hold at the time it did, unpacks the particular beliefs and assumptions embedded in it, and details the often informal coalition building that produced this period of consensus. Examining the nation’s largest urban school districts (Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York), the author details three major reform efforts in chapters titled “The Right Space: The Small Schools Movement”; “The Right Teachers: Teach for America”; and “The Right Curriculum: Expanding Advanced Placement.”

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