According to Young, Levin and Wallin (2014), what changes in society are related to the current climate of uncertainty in education?
for society, significant demographic, economic and cultural shifts have led to growing questions about the purposes of schools and how well they are currently being met.
What are the six functions of schools according to Holmes (1986, as cited in Young et al.)?

  • Allocative – determining and ranking students – who gets to go to University
  • Custodial – child care
  • Intellectual/vocational  – developing knowledge and skills
  • Socializing – values and behaviours
  • Aesthetic – arts – culture – beauty
  • Physical – fitness

What is neo-liberalism and how does it relate to globalization?

These questions and issues are connected to changes in Canadian society (we discuss some of these a little later), and Canada’s place in the world. Central to the concept of globalization is the reality that recent changes in information and communication technologies, and the associated practices of intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations have produced an important shift from an emphasis on national economies to a far more open “global economy” accompanied by “worldwide discourses on human capital, economic development, and multiculturalism” (Spring, 2008, p. 1). Very closely connected to this has been the recent growth of government policies across much of the world, generally referred to as neo-liberalism, that support an individualistic rather than a communal vision of society. These policies promote competitive individualism and market competition in all areas of public life, with the role of government substantially reduced. In this new world order of technology, competition, and innovation, education is seen as key to economic prosperity. Indeed, sometimes the only rationale provided for education and schooling is economic success; we are now said to live in a “knowledge society” and compete internationally in a “global knowledge market.”

 

  • ·       Neo-liberalism encourages greater market choice for parents in the selection of their schools
  • ·       Globalization – shift from a traditional “walled economy” of individual countries to a far more open “global economy” – with more demanding competition for jobs – resources – human and otherwise (p. 4) across countries
  • ·       Neo-liberalism – supports more competitive individualism rather than a collective view of society – more market competition and less government involvement is favoured

What is the difference between politics and micropolitics and how do they affect schools?

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Individual schools are not exempt from political issues. Politics within the school are known as micropolitics (e.g., Blase, 1993; Mawhinney, 1999). These issues can be internal or external. Internally, teachers may disagree with one another, or with the principal, on many matters – how to teach, how to deal with student discipline, how to involve students or parents. Or there may simply be personality conflicts—people who do not like each other, or who feel that some colleagues are not doing their fair share of the work. A skilled leader must be able to identify such conflicts and to work to resolve them in ways that respect everybody’s interests yet also give primacy to educational goals and needs. The danger with such conflicts is that avoiding conflict among staff may be given greater importance than providing the best possible learning situation for students. 

  • ·       Politics within schools are known as micro-politics
  • ·       May be disagreements among staff – with the principal
  • ·       Personality conflicts
  • ·       Danger if the focus is on having people work harmoniously at the expense of providing the best possible learning situation for students
  • ·        Pressure from dissatisfied community – re bullying for example

 

What does Young et al. have to say about the nature of teachers’ work?

Individual teachers make many decisions about the nature of their teaching, such as how students should behave, what sort of instruction will be provided, or what kinds of assignments will be given. All of these can be seen as policy decisions in that they shape the actions of people in schools, even though they may apply to only a few students, or may be made informally by individual teachers.

How do argument, persuasion and politics relate to policy?

Argument, on the other hand, has to do with giving people reasons for believing something. Reasons may or may not rest on evidence. Arguments often rest on moral claims about what is worthwhile or important or right. For example, an argument about the importance of strengthening competition in our schools is really an appeal to see the world in a particular way, and therefore to take certain kinds of actions. Political debate is largely an attempt to persuade people to see issues in a particular way (Levin & Young, 2000).Two important vehicles for persuading people are evidence and argument. Although the two are distinct, they are also very much intertwined. Political decisions cannot simply be determined through an appeal to facts, but neither should they be reduced to questions of who has how much power; rather, a combination of evidence, argument, reason, and persuasion are all essential to the political process.

Define the terms compatibility, achievability and shared meaning as they relate to the goals of schools.

Compatibility

 

There is no guarantee that all the goals on any list can be achieved at the same time. It may be that achieving one purpose will necessarily be at the expense of another. There is only so much time, energy, and resources. If one of our goals is to make students physically fit, the time spent on fitness cannot also be spent on, say, reading, yet goal statements rarely suggest any order of priority among their multiple objectives. Most school system goals are very ambitious, and it is reasonably clear that doing them all at a high level would take more time and energy than is currently available. Thus, a school system is always faced with the problem of having to decide which goals should get how much emphasis. For instance, does it place its energy into improving mathematics, expanding multicultural awareness, improving students’ commitment to healthy living, or emphasizing critical thinking? More fundamentally, purposes and goals may be logically inconsistent with one another, such that pursuing goal x means, by definition, not pursuing goal y. For example, one common goal of schools is to teach students to think critically and to make their own decisions, while another common goal is to teach students to appreciate some of the basic values of our society, such as patriotism or respect for others. But what if a student, after thinking about it, decides that s/he does not want to be patriotic or to respect others? Are educators prepared to say that, because the student has formed an independent opinion, he is free to disregard social conventions? Probably not. One of the basic tensions in schooling is between our desire to help individuals learn to think for themselves and our desire to have those individuals develop the same basic attitudes and values as everyone else in our society. It is not possible to maximize both of these goals at the same time; the same logic applies to numerous other mutually conflicting school goals. It is important to know how decisions are made as to which goals will be prioritized, and to question whose interests those decisions serve.

 

 

Achievability

 

It is one thing to write down a goal, and quite another to be able to accomplish it. It is doubtful that schools can achieve all the goals set for them, even if there is agreement on what those goals are. Knowledge about how people learn and about how to teach them is, and always will be, limited. There are many things schools would like to do, but we don’t know how. As an example, consider the very basic skill of learning to read. Some children learn to read almost effortlessly, while others learn only with considerable difficulty and still others do not learn to read well at all. Learning differences exist not because teachers or students aren’t trying, but because, although we know much about the reading process, we can never fully know which strategies will optimize the learning of particular children, and we are therefore often only partially successful in teaching them. If teaching students to read presents difficulties, it is even harder to teach values, such as an appreciation of the worth of all individuals or love of learning. Of course, just because educators aren’t sure how to accomplish something does not mean they should stop trying. It is important to set our sights high and to expect a great deal from ourselves. But setting many goals we do not know how to achieve is likely to create considerable frustration.

 

Shared Meaning

 

A statement of goals is an attempt to generate agreement among many people as to what schools should do. In education, there is currently much talk about creating a “shared vision,” which also requires agreement on aims and purposes. But, as we have already noted, there may be quite a bit of disagreement among and between parents, students, teachers, and others as to what the schools should do. Some students, for example, especially in secondary schools, place high value on preparing for jobs. Some teachers may place more emphasis on goals such as developing positive personal habits and attributes while others might emphasize post-secondary educational opportunities. Some parents want a great deal of emphasis placed on reading and writing skills, while others want more emphasis on the arts or sciences. Some parents want their children to be exposed to many different ideas, while others want schools to reinforce the values of the home. Such different priorities have significant implications for the way schools and teaching are organized. To place more emphasis on preparing for jobs, for example, schools could increase the amount of vocational and technological education, or provide work-experience opportunities for students. On the other hand, placing more emphasis on academic skills might involve cutting back in the above areas and allocating more time and resources to areas dealing with reading, writing, information search skills, and so on. Different goals should lead to different kinds of activities. One way schools try to cope with the differences in people’s desired goals is to smooth them over with language. Thus, a statement of goals can be worded in such a way as to generate agreement, even if people would not agree on what the statements mean in practice. As long as the discussion stays at the level of words, the disagreement can be hidden. Often this approach works reasonably well in allowing people to move ahead with their work instead of spending endless time debating purposes, but it can also lead to the perpetuation of unfair and ineffective practices.

When governments of primarily Anglophone provinces consider downsizing the number of school boards, why is there little thought given to francophone school boards?
The implementation of provisions for francophone governance of minority language education in English-speaking provinces has been very slow, even when court decisions and commission reports established a path. In Prince Edward Island, francophone parents successfully petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada to have a French-language primary school established in the town of Summerside (Clarke, 2009). The Minister of Education had previously denied approval of the school on the grounds that a minimum enrollment of 100 students was, in his view, necessary for a viable school (Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island, 1999/2000). These differences, Tardif suggests, are rooted in the distinction between “entitlement” and “demand”; that is, whether parents under Section 23 have only to show that they are entitled to minority language education, or whether they are required to demonstrate sufficient demand. Because it fails to take local circumstances into account, the courts have rejected any fixed minimum number of students as defining “where numbers warrant,” and have denied the use of existing school district boundaries to define minimum numbers. However, Tardif notes that the Court of Appeal judgment in Alberta in the case of Mahe et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen (1987) appears to place the burden of proof of demand on the parents. Originally, some jurisdictions interpreted this requirement to be satisfied by the provision of distinct programs for francophone students in existing educational facilities. However over time, all provinces have recognized the argument that only separate francophone schools can satisfy the spirit of the Charter and avoid the damaging effects of linguistic interference and assimilation that could occur in mixed facilities.
How does ideology affect educational decision-making?

Ideology plays a critical role in shaping politics and policy choices. By ideology we mean people’s deep-seated beliefs about how the world is and how it ought to be, beliefs that are held at such a deep level that they are rarely called into question. Everyone has such beliefs, many of which were inculcated when we were young (partly through the schools, it might be added). Although we tend to use the term “ideology” to disparage those with whom we disagree, ideology is what shapes, in large part, the agenda of political parties and of all of us as individuals. If one begins with the belief that people will not work unless they are policed and compelled to do so, then one is inclined toward policies such as more testing of students or closer evaluation of teachers. If one believes that poverty is an underlying cause of educational problems, one will be inclined to support programs and activities that reduce or ameliorate some of the effects of poverty, such as school nutrition programs or preschool programs. The ideology of individuals and groups will have a critical effect on many policy decisions, chiefly by shaping the alternatives that are considered in the first place. Ideology intersects with pragmatic considerations, however. What we want to do has to be matched with what we think can be done. Each of us takes for granted certain assumptions about what is possible, assumptions that also shape our political proposals. Whatever our ideological convictions, we don’t propose what we believe to be impossible. An election commitment to eliminate winter storms in Canada would be popular if anyone believed it could be done, but because it isn’t possible it never gets on the agenda. To take a less fanciful example, a proposal to ensure that all students should take advanced mathematics in high schools, while perhaps seen as desirable, might also be seen as impossible, and hence command less political support. Goals have to be fitted against capacities in designing policies.

 

o   Ideological  – deep seated beliefs about how the world is

What are some of the major competing tensions of thought in education?

Several ongoing tensions or dilemmas characterize Canadian education politics. Centralization versus decentralization has to do with where authority over educational decisions will be located. Will it be at the local level—the school or school district—or will provincial governments take on a greater degree of control? Should curricula be set locally or provincially? Should students be evaluated within the school or through provincial examinations? Should schools be able to hire whomever they want as teachers, or must all teachers meet certain provincial requirements? Professional authority versus lay authority deals with the amount of control over schooling exercised by teachers and administrators as opposed to parents and community members. Examples of this tension include debates over the degree of freedom teachers should have to control their own subject matter and teaching style, over whether hiring decisions should be made by school boards or by superintendents and principals, over whether parents should have a role in evaluating school programs, and so on. The tensions between uniformity and diversity concern whether the school system will be standard in its operation across communities, regions, and even provinces, or whether schools will vary across settings because the Canadian population is so diverse. Historically, language and religion have been particularly prominent aspects of the struggle over diversity. Some of the most vociferous debates in Canadian education continue to revolve around the issue of how and to what degree we as a society are prepared to accommodate a diversity of linguistic and religious views. The varying arrangements across Canada in regard to religion and language show how differently these questions have been answered depending on circumstances. And Canadians still face many unresolved issues concerning diversity. Do we provide separate Aboriginal schools in our cities? Do we teach primary level students whose first language is not English in their mother tongue? Do we produce textbooks and teaching materials in languages such as Italian, Hindi, and Chinese as well as French, English, Inuktitut, and Cree? What does it mean to provide equal opportunities in schools for girls and women in areas such as science and technology? How do we safeguard the rights of minorities while seeking to maintain essential elements of a common curriculum? These tensions run through many aspects of educational policymaking and politics, as will be illustrated in the remainder of this chapter.

 

Tensions and dilemmas in Canadian education: p. 12

1.       Public accessibility – all persons of school age have a right to an education

2.       Equal opportunity – all children should receive equal opportunity to benefit from schooling regardless of their personal social or cultural attributes

3.       Public funding – costs of schooling should be paid by the government – all can receive an education regardless of income

4.       Public control – public political processes control spending – by persons elected to carry out this responsibility

5.       Public accountability – schools act in the interest of the public and are accountable to the public for what and how curriculum is taught


Uniformity and diversity –

·       Schools produce uneven results where some succeed and others don’t – not accidental – school has an allocative role – socio-economic and education background of parents influence how successful students are.

What are five attributes of public education as described by Young, Levin and Wallin (2014)?
1. What is the issue and how is it being defined? (Issues) 2. Who is involved in making the decision? (Actors) 3. Through what decision-making process will a decision be made? (Processes) 4. What factors might influence the decision? (Influences) 5. What are the outcomes of a political process? (Results)
What are the means by which provinces may influence what school boards do?

The predominant vehicle that has been developed for this task is a publicly funded, provincially controlled school system. It is this system, prescribed in the British North America Act, 1867 and detailed in the various education or public school acts and regulations of the provinces, that houses some 92 percent of the country’s student population (see Table 2.1). all provinces have created some form of local educational body, usually called school boards or school districts, with legally defined powers delegated to them by the province. These bodies, however, exist only at the discretion of the provincial government, and final authority over most areas of educational decision making remains at the provincial level, with a minister of education. the struggles to define what would constitute an appropriate structure for the governance of public education involving competing versions of democratic participation, professional authority, and efficiency continue to resonate into the twenty-first century. In this debate the divisions of power and institutional forms developed in Ontario during the middle of the nineteenth century continue to provide an important backdrop for public school systems across Canada.

 

·       All provinces have school districts or school boards – legally defined roles given by the province and exist at the discretion of the province which has the final say over educational matters ( Ministry of Education)

What is policy? According to Young, Levin and Wallin (2014), what factors influence policymaking? You can describe a policy as: A constitutional directive A general guideline or rule that shapes decisions or actions that is subject to provincial and federal laws A provincial statute that describes the role of teachers and principals A federal law that governs all schools

political, economic, ideological, and pragmatic.

 

Education Policy

·       Policies shape the structure of schools , the resources available, the curriculum, the teaching staff, the routine activities of the school p. 68