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Education > Education Policy and Reform

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The Seeds We Planted Cover

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The Seeds We Planted

Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School

Noelani Goodyear-Ka'opua


In 1999, Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua was among a group of young educators and parents who founded Hālau Kū Māna, a secondary school that remains one of the only Hawaiian culture-based charter schools in urban Honolulu. The Seeds We Planted tells the story of Hālau Kū Māna against the backdrop of the Hawaiian struggle for self-determination and the U.S. charter school movement, revealing a critical tension: the successes of a school celebrating indigenous culture are measured by the standards of settler colonialism.


How, Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua asks, does an indigenous people use schooling to maintain and transform a common sense of purpose and interconnection of nationhood in the face of forces of imperialism and colonialism? What roles do race, gender, and place play in these processes? Her book, with its richly descriptive portrait of indigenous education in one community, offers practical answers steeped in the remarkable—and largely suppressed—history of Hawaiian popular learning and literacy.


This uniquely Hawaiian experience addresses broader concerns about what it means to enact indigenous cultural–political resurgence while working within and against settler colonial structures. Ultimately, The Seeds We Planted shows that indigenous education can foster collective renewal and continuity.


Social Constructions of Deafness Cover

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Social Constructions of Deafness

Examining Deaf Languacultures in Education

Thomas P. Horejes

Thomas P. Horejes’s new book focuses on revealing critical knowledge that addresses certain social justice issues, including deafness, language, culture, and deaf education. He conveys this information through discourses about his own experiences being deaf and through his research in which he “stresses the contingency of the social” in educational institutions. In Social Constructions of Deafness: Examining Deaf Languacultures in Education, Horejes contends that schools as social institutions play powerful and exacting roles in the creation and maintenance of social constructions such as language and culture for deaf children. He subscribes to Michael Agar’s concept of “languaculture,” defined as the inextricable relationship between language and culture in which a specific language will shape and influence culture. His approach employs other anthropological methodology as he connects his personal experiences as a deaf student (emic) to academic research on deafness (etic) to bring understanding to the multidimensional aspects of his own negotiated identities. Horejes extends his inquiry through his analysis of two kindergarten classes for deaf students, one orally oriented and the other conducted using sign language. His findings are sobering evidence of the myriad challenges educators face in defining appropriate academic, linguistic, and cultural pedagogy for deaf children in schools and other social institutions.

Steady Gains and Stalled Progress Cover

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Steady Gains and Stalled Progress

Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap

Addressing the disparity in test scores between black and white children remains one of the greatest social challenges of our time. Between the 1960s and 1980s, tremendous strides were made in closing the achievement gap, but that remarkable progress halted abruptly in the mid 1980s, and stagnated throughout the 1990s. How can we understand these shifting trends and their relation to escalating economic inequality? In Steady Gains and Stalled Progress, interdisciplinary experts present a groundbreaking analysis of the multifaceted reasons behind the test score gap—and the policies that hold the greatest promise for renewed progress in the future. Steady Gains and Stalled Progress shows that while income inequality does not directly lead to racial differences in test scores, it creates and exacerbates disparities in schools, families, and communities—which do affect test scores. Jens Ludwig and Jacob Vigdor demonstrate that the period of greatest progress in closing the gap coincided with the historic push for school desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s. Stagnation came after efforts to integrate schools slowed down. Today, the test score gap is nearly 50 percent larger in states with the highest levels of school segregation.  Katherine Magnuson, Dan Rosenbaum, and Jane Waldfogel show how parents’ level of education affects children’s academic performance: as educational attainment for black parents increased in the 1970s and 1980s, the gap in children’s test scores narrowed. Sean Corcoran and William Evans present evidence that teachers of black students have less experience and are less satisfied in their careers than teachers of white students. David Grissmer and Elizabeth Eiseman find that the effects of economic deprivation on cognitive and emotional development in early childhood lead to a racial divide in school readiness on the very first day of kindergarten. Looking ahead, Helen Ladd stresses that the task of narrowing the divide is not one that can or should be left to schools alone. Progress will resume only when policymakers address the larger social and economic forces behind the problem. Ronald Ferguson masterfully interweaves the volume’s chief findings to highlight the fact that the achievement gap is the cumulative effect of many different processes operating in different contexts. The gap in black and white test scores is one of the most salient features of racial inequality today. Steady Gains and Stalled Progress provides the detailed information and powerful insight we need to understand a complicated past and design a better future.

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Streetwise for Book Smarts

Grassroots Organizing and Education Reform in the Bronx

In Streetwise for Book Smarts, Celina Su examines the efforts of parents and students who sought to improve the quality of education in their local schools by working with grassroots organizations and taking matters into their own hands. In these organizations, everyday citizens pursued not only education reform but also democratic accountability and community empowerment. These groups had similar resources and operated in the same political context, yet their strategies and tactics were very different: while some focused on increasing state and city aid to their schools, others tried to change the way the schools themselves operated. Some coalitions sought accommodation with administrators and legislators; others did not.

The events Su describes began with a series of stabbings in Bronx high schools during the 2003-2004 school year. After this rash of violence, several grassroots groups cited the need for additional safety patrols. Mothers from one school spoke of how they had previously protested until they got extra officers, a fairly scarce resource in New York public schools, at their local elementary school. Others asserted that not all the safety patrol officers already in place were treating students humanely. Parent organizations and school officials battled over who was to blame for the school violence. Did a police presence solve the problem, or did it exacerbate the schools' violence-prone conditions? Members of different groups proposed and mobilized behind a range of remedies. These divergent responses shed light on the ways in which the choices made by each organization mattered.

By learning from Su's close observation of four activist groups in the Bronx, including Mothers on the Move and Sistas and Brothas United, we can better understand strategies that may ultimately lead to better and safer schools everywhere and help to revitalize American democracy.

Surgical Consent Cover

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Surgical Consent

Bioethics and Cochlear Implantation

Linda Komesaroff, Editor

With the rate of cochlear implantation reaching 80% to 90% of all deaf children, some as young as five months old, Surgical Consent: Bioethics and Cochlear Implantation arrives at a critical juncture. This comprehensive collection features essays by Priscilla Alderson, Inger Lise Skog Hansen, Hilde Haualand, volume editor Linda Komesaroff, Paddy Ladd, Harlan Lane, Karen Lloyd, Eithne Mills, Paal Richard Peterson, Gunilla Preisler, Kristina Svartholm, and Michael Uniacke. These worldwide renowned ethicists, educators, and Deaf leaders express their diverse perspectives on the bioethics of childhood cochlear implantation according to their discipline and a number of themes of inquiry: human rights, medical and social ethics, psychology, education, globalization, identity, life pathways, democracy, media, law, and biotechnology. Drawing on current research, this volume presents the varying reactions around the globe to the high rate of implantation. These views contrast sharply with the medical perspective of deafness overwhelmingly promoted through the media and by the cochlear implantation industry. At the same time, the contributors aim to disrupt the binaries that have long dominated the field of deafness — speech versus sign, instruction through speech and sign systems versus bilingual education, and medical intervention versus cultural membership in the Deaf community. Surgical Consent begins and ends with the voices of Deaf people. Their articulate and, at times, raw insights clearly delineate the issues of power, positioning, and minority-majority group relations that are inherent in the dominant hearing culture’s understanding of diversity and globalization.

Talking about a Revolution Cover

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Talking about a Revolution

The Languages of Educational Reform

Talking about a Revolution tells the story of school reform from the perspective of teachers engaged in it, illuminating the complexity of teachers’ roles in transforming policy into practice. Al, Brian, and Camille teach at a large, comprehensive high school in a suburb of a major mid-western city. They use the languages of educational reform to inspire new ways to think about teaching, to shield themselves from the confusion of contradictory understandings of reform, and to construct a shared understanding of what reformed teaching might mean.

The Teacher's Attention: Why Our Kids Must and Can Get Smaller Schools and Classes Cover

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The Teacher's Attention: Why Our Kids Must and Can Get Smaller Schools and Classes

The Teacher’s Attention is a fresh take on relationships in schools. Looking beyond our obsession with raising test scores, this book recognizes that education is a key partner in raising children. Garrett Delavan contends that allowing students, educators and parents to navigate a smaller number of relationships—a concept he calls "relationship load"—provides many benefits, including a better chance at achieving equal access to a good education for all children.

Delavan shows how class size, school size, and longer-term student-teacher relationships are all equally critical components for educating our children ethically and successfully. After examining these proposed reforms in detail, Delavan also considers counterarguments and provides a detailed projection of costs and savings, putting to rest the assumption that smaller classes and smaller schools are necessarily more expensive. Finally, the book discusses possible steps toward implementation, showing how the author's proposed reforms are remarkably practical.

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Teachers Learning in Community

Realities and Possibilities

Raises provocative questions about the efficacy, viability, and sustainability of professional learning communities. This book raises provocative questions about the efficacy, viability, and sustainability of professional learning communities given the present political and structural realities of public schools. The culmination of six years of research in five states, it explores real world efforts to establish learning communities as a strategy for professional development and school improvement. The contributors look at the realities of these communities in public schools, revealing power struggles, logistical dilemmas, cultural conflicts, and communication problems—all forces that threaten to dismantle the effectiveness of learning communities. And yet, through robust and powerful descriptions of particularly effective learning communities, the authors hold out promise that they might indeed make a difference. Anyone persuaded that learning communities are the new “magic bullet” to fix schools needs to read this book, including teacher educators, educational leaders and practitioners, professional developers, and educational leadership faculty.

Teachers versus the Public Cover

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Teachers versus the Public

What Americans Think about Schools and How to Fix Them

Paul E. Peterson, Michael Henderson, and Martin R. West

A comprehensive exploration of 21st Century school politics, Teachers versus the Public offers the first comparison of the education policy views of both teachers and the public as a whole, and reveals a deep, broad divide between the opinions held by citizens and those who teach in the public schools. Among the findings:

• Divisions between teachers and the public are wider and deeper than differences between other groups often thought to contest school policy, such as Republicans and Democrats, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, or African Americans and whites.

• The teacher-public gap is widest on such issues as merit pay, teacher tenure reform, impact of teacher unions, school vouchers, charter schools, and requirements to test students annually.

• Public support for school vouchers for all students, charter schools, and parent trigger laws increases sharply when people are informed of the national ranking of student performance in their local school district.

• Public willingness to give local schools high marks, its readiness to support higher spending levels, and its support for teacher unions all decline when the public learns the national ranking of their local schools.

• On most issues, teacher opinion does not change in response to new information nearly as much as it does for the public as a whole. In fact, the gap between what teachers and the public think about school reform grows even wider when both teachers and the public are given more information about current school performance, current expenditure levels, and current teacher pay.

The book provides the first experimental study of public and teacher opinion. Using a recently developed research strategy, the authors ask differently worded questions about the same topic to randomly chosen segments of representative groups of citizens. This approach allows them to identify the impact on public opinion of new information on issues such as student performance and school expenditures in each respondent's community.

The changes in public opinion when citizens receive information about school performance are largest in districts that perform below the national average. Altogether, the results indicate that support for many school reforms would increase if common core state standards were established and implemented in such a way as to inform the public about the quality of their local schools. These and many other findings illuminate the distance between teacher opinions and those of the public at large.

About the Research: In partnership with the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal, Education Next, authors Paul E. Peterson, Martin West and Michael Henderson surveyed nationally representative samples of teachers and the public as a whole annually between 2007 and 2013.

Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam Cover

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Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam

Public Education, State Centralization, and Teacher Unionism in France and the United States

Nicholas Toloudis

Offering the first systematic, comparative examination of the origins of teachers’ unions in two countries—France and the United States—Teaching Marianne and Uncle Sam shows how teachers’ unions came into existence not because of the willful efforts of particular actors, but over the course of decades of conflict over the proper role of professional educators in public politics.

Nicholas Toloudis traces teacher unionism back to the first efforts of governments to centralize public education. He carefully documents how centralization created new understandings of the role of teachers in their societies and generated new sources of conflict within teachers’ corps. Using rare archival source materials, Toloudis illustrates how these internal conflicts became salient in teachers’ battles with governments over their legitimate right to exist as collective claim-makers within the polity.

In the series Politics, History, and Social Change, edited by John C. Torpey

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