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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2009): Education - overseas

Black boys can make it: how they overcome the obstacles to university in the UK and USA

C. Byfield

Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books, 2008

This book aims to dispel the myth that Black boys are underachievers, by demonstrating that many progress into universities. It also discusses the implications of this for policy and practice both in the UK and USA. Part One sets the educational scene in each country; Part Two looks at the obstacles encountered through an examination of social class, racism and racial identity etc; Part Three analyses the factors that lead to success, including how parents steer their sons, the contributions of schools, teachers and community projects and so on; Part Four reviews the processes of choosing and entering university; and the concluding section focuses on the lessons which can be drawn from this research in terms of shaping educational policy and practice.

Preventing truancy and dropout among urban middle school youth

L.F. Rodríguez & G.Q. Conchas

Education and Urban Society, vol. 41, 2009, p. 216-247

This case study explores how a community-based truancy prevention programme mediates against absenteeism, truancy, and dropping out and positively transforms the lives of Black and Latina/Latino middle school youth. Findings suggest that community-school partnerships are critical in the quest to combat truancy and the alarming dropout rate among urban youth. This study also shows how committed individuals can work to engage and empower low-income urban youth who are disengaged from school. Extensive interviews and observations with Latina/Latino and Black youth demonstrate how the intervention programme mediates against social and academic failure. Using grounded theory this article explores four student-identified dimensions that impact re-engagement with school: (a) the importance of space that promotes peer relations, (b) incentive structures within programmes, (c) the need for social networks, and (d) youth advocacy as a mechanism for institutional accountability. Implications for combating truancy, reducing dropout, and promoting student engagement are discussed.

The song remains the same: transposition and the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education

G.D. Beratan

Race, Ethnicity and Education, vol. 11, 2008, p. 337-354

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004 was an attempt by Congress to address the longstanding issue of disproportionate representation of minority students in special education in the USA. Beginning with a deconstruction of the case law, public law and policy interpretations built around IDEA, this paper uses an understanding of the concept of 'institutional ablism' as developed within disability studies, to challenge the widely accepted view of IDEA as civil rights legislation and draws on Critical Race Theory to offer a further deconstruction of IDEA. The analysis of the law illustrates the use of a mechanism that the author calls transposition: the use of the legally accepted segregation of special education to maintain the effects of the unacceptable and illegal separation by race. The author argues that the development of special education in the United States offers yet another example of interest convergence: specifically that of marginal disability rights gained with the creation of special education, converging with the white interest of recouping the losses of the US Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision.

Tertiary education in the 21st century: economic change and social networks

R.C. Strathdee

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

This book explores the networks built by policy makers in New Zealand and England between providers of tertiary education and innovative firms and examines reform of assessment that is conversely destroying networks. The author argues that reasons for both processes can be found in social changes that are driving up the importance of personal and institutional network capital in some fields and in egalitarian attempts to create open competitions for advancement. This book shows that these changes are leading to a reconfiguration of the rules upon which the competition for advancement is organised through tertiary education.

To have and to have not: the socioeconomics of charter schools

K. Bancroft

Education and Urban Society, vol. 41, 2009, p. 248-279

This year-long ethnographic study analysed three Californian charter middle schools: one served mostly low-income, urban African American students; the second served students form working class Latino families; and the third served a middle class, predominantly White suburb. The study illustrates how the socioeconomic context of a charter school's community, combined with charter reforms, affect school operations. Significantly, charters serving poor students lacked resources to fulfill their needs, and teachers lacked necessary professional development. As a result of financial and pedagogical difficulties, some charters took a more selective approach to finding students who would help the school, and its teachers, succeed.

Vocational teachers in the face of a major educational reform: individual ways of negotiating professional identities

K. Vahasantanen and A. Etelapelto

Journal of Education and Work, vol. 22, 2009, p. 15-33

In Finland initial vocational education was mainly delivered in the classroom until 2001. Following a reform in that year, training is increasingly delivered in the workplace outside the schools. Students spend at least six months on work placements. Teachers visit the workplace to guide and evaluate the students, instead of teaching in the classroom. This study explores how vocational teachers negotiate their professional identity in response to this extensive, externally imposed reform using data gathered in interviews with a sample of 16.

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