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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2010): Education - overseas

A turning-point or a backward slide: the challenge facing the Swedish preschool today

I. P. Samuelsson and S. Sheridan

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 219-227

Thirty years or more of striving for a coherence in the educational system from preschool to gymnasium might now be at an end. Millions of Swedish kronor have been spent on projects concerning cooperation between pre- and primary schools. The curricula for preschool and the gymnasium are similar in structure, and they are connected with each other through the goals that children and students are expected to achieve. Teacher education has so far been one integrated programme with different orientations and specialities, and the basic knowledge that teachers require has been largely the same from early childhood education (ECE) to adult education. The political winds are, however, blowing in another direction. A question to ask is whether Sweden is changing its holistic and social-pedagogical approach to ECE and teacher education towards a more traditional academic one. It is this change that will be discussed in this article, although one has to bear in mind that nothing is fixed and stable, so the article is a snapshot of an ongoing process.

Critical perspectives on Danish early childhood education and care: between the technical and the political

A. S. Jensen, S. Brostr m and O. H. Hansen

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 243-254

This paper discusses trends in contemporary Danish early childhood education and care (ECEC). Data are sourced from various policy documents, along with material from ongoing research projects in which the authors are involved. It is claimed that contemporary policy on Danish daycare services has a tendency to emphasise narrow curriculum improvements and standardised testing. The democratic dimensions are still relatively strong, but at the moment these dimensions are interpreted within a skills-and-testing framework, which is leading to a situation where the political masquerades as the technical.

Education of world's poorest under threat

D. Smith

The Guardian, Nov. 9th 2010, p. 22

Lack of support from the west could force poor countries to shut schools, depriving millions of children of education, the campaign group Global Campaign for Education (GCE) has warned. As representatives of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative prepare to meet in Madrid to allocate funds worth $80m, GCE says this is less than 10% of the $1bn that the poorest countries will need to keep schools open next year.

Finnish ECEC policy: interpretations, implementations and implications

E. L. Onnismaa and M. Kalliala

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 267-277

This article examines the complex development and contradictory current state of affairs of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Finland. Rather than presenting a harmonious picture of the Finnish ECEC system, the authors have chosen to look at the problematic way in which national policies concerning ECEC have been interpreted and implemented. The road from legislation and national regulations (e.g. the National Curriculum Guidelines) on ECEC in Finland to implementation has been a convoluted one and the implementations may vary remarkably according to how the documents have been interpreted. Several results of this can be seen as less than favourable. For example, due to attempts to enlarge the scope of Finnish ECEC, its primary task - promoting the well-being, development and learning of the child - has gradually been obscured. In addition, a number of 'external' factors such as rivalry between professional groups have influenced the shaping of the ECEC field more than one would like to admit. A more analytical approach to ECEC is called for in order to avoid new misinterpretations of the national policies and consequent adverse policy effects.

Globalisation, entrepreneurship and teacher education in Nigeria: challenging roles of vocational educators

C. C. Chukwurah

International Journal of Management in Education, vol. 4, 2010, p. 369-375

The impact and influence of globalisation and entrepreneurship on teacher education in Nigeria were ascertained through a structured questionnaire. Three research questions were formulated to guide the study. Sixty-four lecturers of vocational education were drawn from the University of Calabar and Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH), Calabar, and used for the study. Findings of the study indicated that globalisation and entrepreneurship have a positive influence and impact on teacher education in Nigerian universities in terms of access to information and dissemination, andcollaboration and contacts among faculty members and students worldwide. These pose challenges for vocational educators in particular and teacher education in general.

Globalization: expanding horizons in women's leadership

W. H. Sherman (editor)

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 48, 2010, p. 673-786

The authors of this special issue provide insights into the activities and experiences of women working in K-12 and university settings around the globe. The issue promotes social justice from an unapologetic feminist perspective, with the goal of promoting inclusiveness of voice specific to women and their experiences of educational leadership.

Icelandic parents' views on the national policy on early childhood education

J. Einarsdottir

Early Years, vol. 30, 2010, p. 229-242

Considerable change has taken place in Icelandic early childhood education during the past few decades. Preschool, from being geared primarily towards children with evident social needs, has become all but universal. The aim of this study was to shed light on Icelandic parents' views on their children's preschool education and to examine how their views harmonize with the nation's preschool policy. The participants in this study, 43 parents of five- and six-year-old children in three preschools in Reykjav k, took part in focus-group interviews concerning the preschool curriculum. The results indicate that the parents' main expectation of the preschools was that they should support the children's social development; the way in which the preschool day was organized, and the content of the curriculum seemed to be less important to them. Parents wanted their children to have the opportunity not only to enjoy themselves as individuals, but to learn self-reliance and respect for other people. Care-giving and attentiveness of the staff were more important than the teaching of knowledge and skills. These views are compatible with the social pedagogical tradition, the Icelandic Preschool Act, and the National Curriculum Guidelines for Preschools.

Leading educational improvement in Trinidad and Tobago

F. James

School Leadership and Management, vol. 30, 2010, p. 387-398

School leaders in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) now have the important responsibility of initiating and implementing school improvement. This raises the question of their leadership capacity and the competencies that are required for school leaders to fulfil this new role. This article focuses on school leadership in T&T. The study presented in this article utilised a qualitative interpretive research design employing a range of data collection methods, including questionnaires and interviews. The results of the study confirm a need to develop a new type of school leader who is better trained, more research oriented, more of a risk taker and autonomous.

Manifestation determinations under the new Individuals With Disabilities Education Act: an update

P. A. Zirkel

Remedial and Special Education, vol. 31, 2010, p. 378-384

This article provides an update of a previous analysis of the case law concerning manifestation determinations culminating in the revised pertinent provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004. Specifically, the update consists of a synthesis of the legislative history, Office of Special Education Programs interpretations, and published hearing and review officer and court decisions that provide legal guidance as to the application of the manifestation provisions of IDEA 2004 and its 2006 regulations. The results reveal that thus far (a) the hearing and review officer and court decisions applying the new, causality criteria have continued at a higher but still modest rate (i.e., frequency per year) as the case law under the prior criteria; (b) the conduct in question remained focused primarily on drugs and, in various forms, violence; (c) specific learning disability and other health impairment (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) continued to predominate as the disabilities at issue, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder became more frequent than in the prior case law; (d) the only new notable decisional factor was burden of proof; (e) the outcomes of the new case law have, with an unexpected but limited reduction, continued to predominate in favor of determinations that the child's disciplined conduct was not a manifestation of the child's disability; and (f) procedural issues have played a limited role in terms of reversing such district manifestation determinations.

Market orientation in university: a case study

I. Küster and M. E. Avilés-Valenzuela

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 24, 2010, p. 597-614

The paper aims to analyse the relationship between market orientation (MO) and results in the field of higher education, considering the importance of university teaching staff MO in relation to satisfaction and establishing that this orientation is directly and positively affected by the MO of the upper hierarchical levels. The focus is on a university in a developing country. The information was gathered from a convenience sample using a self-administered questionnaire (219 teacher staff valid questionnaires and 34 directors, secretaries and heads of course's questionnaires). Data were analysed using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation analysis. The results show that campus MO has a positive significant impact on the school MO but not on the teaching staff. Likewise, the school MO does not affect teaching staff MO. However, teaching staff MO does impact job satisfaction (JS).

Principals' perspectives of social justice in public schools

A. W. Place and others

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 24, 2010, p. 531-543

The purpose of this paper is to focus on social justice issues identified by American principals. A research question that guided this qualitative study was: do educational leaders relate to the concept of leadership for social justice? The standardized protocol for focus group discussions was based on Krueger and Casey's work on how to conduct effective focus group interviews. Each focus group carefully followed the protocol, which was designed to give voice to the informants and not to be led by the moderator in preconceived directions. This procedure provided a framework to maintain consistency in eliciting and collecting information but not leading participants to discuss social justice issues just to please the researchers. This paper both confirmed that principals are concerned with social justice and identified that some principals do not explicitly discuss issues that relate to social justice. Principals who raised social justice issues felt that leaders should be courageous enough to make decisions that are best for children, even though they may not be popular.

Realizing children's right to participation in early childhood settings: some critical issues in a Norwegian context

B. Bae

Early Years, vol. 30, Oct. 2010, p. 205-218

During recent decades the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has influenced professionals and policy-makers in Norway as well as in other countries, resulting in changes in documents regulating early childhood institutions. Little is known, however, about the way the right to participation is understood and realised in everyday practice. How is the concept of participation understood by professionals in the field? What issues emerge as problematic in everyday practice? Combining findings from an evaluation study and research from early childhood institutions, it is possible to unravel three problem areas. They are described under these headings: (a) interpreting participation with a bias towards individualism? (b) play and playful interaction - an integral part of children's right to participation? and (c) are the youngest children 'mature' enough? The article is rounded off by pointing to the need to pay critical attention both to what is happening on policy levels, and to theoretical perspectives influencing the professionals in the field.

The transformative power of democracy and human rights in nonformal education: the case of Tostan

D. Gillespie and M. Melching

Adult Education Quarterly, vol. 60, 2010, p. 477-498

This case study analyses the introduction of democracy and human rights into the educational programme of Tostan, a nongovernmental organization working in Africa. The authors show how Tostan's original educational approach created a meaningful context for integrating democracy and human rights into its curriculum, a process that took place from 1995 to 2003. The integration produced unexpected results: a participant-led social movement to end harmful practices such as female genital cutting and child and/or forced marriage. After describing the phases of curricular revision in the case, the authors draw out themes to show how the phases interacted to produce social transformation. A visioning exercise at the beginning of the programme created a discursive context for the introduction of democracy and human rights, the democracy and human rights sessions created critical reflection about past practices, and awareness of an international human rights framework emboldened participants to undertake actions that created new social norms.

What does it take to become a high-performing special education planning district? A study of Indiana's special education delivery service system

B. C. Edmonds and T. Spradlin

Remedial and Special Education, vol. 31, 2010, p. 320-329

As the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act deadline for having all students proficient in reading and maths approaches, schools are becoming increasingly anxious to promote success in high stakes tests for their students with disabilities. Embedded in a larger study of the potential effect of governance structures on the achievement of students with disabilities, this research examines how Indiana's high-performing special education planning districts are able to promote achievement on the part of students with disabilities. Four themes are found in high-performing districts: ownership of student performance, teacher self-efficacy, child centeredness, and belongingness of special education staff.

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