The Politics of Education. (among the Periodicals)

By Aldridge, Jerry | Childhood Education, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Education. (among the Periodicals)

Aldridge, Jerry, Childhood Education

Preservice teachers and even a few practicing teachers are sometimes surprised to learn that education and politics are strongly connected. In truth, every aspect of schooling is politically based. The international nature of this topic is reflected in these articles about education in Russia, Israel, England, and the United States.

REFORM OF THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION: What We Are Losing. EKO (Vserossiiskii ekonomicheskii zhurnal), Russian Education and Society, 2002, 44(5), 5-31. This article describes the opinions of "specialists from the system of higher and secondary specialized education, the general education schools, and scientists" (p. 5) in Russia as they contemplated the new round of reforms influencing their education system. Participants discussed the nature of current reforms, the strengths and weaknesses of Russian education, their recommendations for the direction reform should take, and the issue of whether or not to charge tuition and its impact on learning.

In debating these points, many leaders in education and science focused on the use of uniform or standardized tests and the importance of good instruction. Personal qualities of teachers also were considered, in addition to a strong knowledge of individual content area disciplines. The problem of teacher shortages, particularly in the rural areas, also was noted, as was the lack of resources.

While the emphasis of this article was on scholarly debates related to the politics of education reform in Russia, many of the comments made by the teachers and scientists easily could have been made in any other country. It was interesting to note that while each country has its own issues and politics, many of the trends related to education reform are universal.

ROLE CONFLICT AND THE DILEMMA OF PALESTINIAN TEACHERS IN ISRAEL. Makkawi, I., Comparative Education, 2002, 38(1), 39-52. Ibrahim Makkawi "explores the dynamics of conflicting role expectations among Palestinian teachers in Israel while focusing on the ways by which these expectations are generated and shaped by the broader sociopolitical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its impact on the educational system" (p. 39). This article provides a comprehensive background of Palestinian education, both before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and after. Another strong point of the article was a table comparing the education goals for teaching history in Jewish schools and in Arab schools in Israel.

The author points out that Palestinian teachers in Israel face a dilemma because they are employed by the Israeli government, yet many have strong feelings about the establishment of a Palestinian state. Palestinian teachers in the West Bank and Gaza, and those who teach in Arab countries, do not face the same potential conflict of interests.

The development of the home-school connections between Arab parents and Israeli schools is also a major challenge. Makkawi effectively describes the conflict between the goals of Palestinian parents and the schools their children attend in Israel: "Since the Palestinians in Israel realized their lack of ability to impact on their formal educational system, they turned to their own non-formal education organizations to foster national identity and cultural pride in their youth" (p. 51).

Educators interested in learning more about Palestinian education in Israel or those wanting to know more about how political conflicts influence the curriculum should find this article informative, thought provoking, and controversial. Furthermore, professionals interested in examining relationships among students, teachers, parents, and the school in a system in which each of these stakeholders has different goals also should find this article of value.

ENCOURAGING ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP. Davies, I., & Evans, M., Educational Review, 2002, 54(1), 6978. This article focuses on the results of teachers', administrators', students', and community agency personnel's perceptions of citizenship education in one local education agency.

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