Education between States, Markets, and Civil Society: Comparative Perspectives

By Heinz-Dieter Meyer; William L. Boyd | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
The Idea of an Education Mix:
A Proposal to Strengthen Civil Society and Education in Germany
INGO RICHTER

The public school system in the Federal Republic of Germany is based on the so-called social state clause (e.g., on the constitutional statement contained in Article 20, § 1 of the Basic Constitutional Law that the Federal Republic is a “social” state). This constitutional social state clause does not, however, guarantee any specific organizational form of society; it is merely a declaration of the type of society that is to be aimed at, and although it is not merely a political program but objective law, it is left to the legislature to decide on the precise shape of this society (Jarras & Pieroth, 1992).

The social state uses the schools as an instrument for the production of necessary skills and social planning; it wants to compensate for individual and family deficits and to use the schools to guarantee social justice. In this process, people sometimes overlook the fact that school is also a place where children and juveniles live and learn, by themselves, with each other, and with one or more teachers, and that in this way they grow up to be young adults.


The Crisis of the Social State and the Schools

The social state in the Federal Republic, having tried to fulfill all these tasks and having to a large extent fulfilled them, is now in a crisis that is being widely debated. People are talking of a restructuring of the social state. They claim that the social state cannot or can no longer achieve its aims of social security (see, e.g., Heinze, Olk, & Hilbert, 1988, p. 13), that the social state is too expensive and the whole system is inefficient, that the social state cannot give an answer to the new social question that

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