Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

The Role of Out-of-School Organizations in German Regionalization Programs: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Opportunities for Participation

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

The Role of Out-of-School Organizations in German Regionalization Programs: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Opportunities for Participation

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

For the past two decades, the regulation of German school systems has been subject to major reforms aiming to improve educational quality (Altrichter, Heinrich, & Soukup-Altrichter, 2013). As such, regionalization is understood as the emergence of new systems of coordination at a regional level involving a variety of actors (Benz, 1998; Berkemeyer & Pfeiffer, 2006; Emmerich, 2016), and is driven forward by various political and administrative initiatives as well as civil society organizations.1 Efforts to implement such systems or regionalization programs are referred to in the literature as local or regional educational landscapes (lokale/regionale Bildungslandschaften/Bildungsregionen)2. Based on the rationale that education benefits from such a coordination of educational resources in terms of available learning opportunities, regionalization programs aim to initiate networks of regional actors (Kolleck, 2015).

Within this process of regionalization, the role of extracurricular or out-ofschool organizations (OSOs)3 in education has changed considerably, with many programs extending the concept of education in a way that brings the individual into focus and includes all learning opportunities in everyday life and throughout the course of life (Association of German Cities, 2007; German Association for Public and Private Welfare, 2007).4 According to this understanding, education for children and youth takes place not only in formal settings (e.g., schools), but also in non-formal and informal ones, such as out-of-school organizations and neighborhoods, respectively (Kolleck, 2015). From this broad range of learning opportunities, recent studies suggest that out-of-school activities have a positive effect on "the cognitive, social, and emotional development" of children and youth, thus implying an enhanced educational outcome (Vandell et ak, 2006, p. 43).5 Accordingly, OSOs' involvement in regionalization programs is particularly important for implementing an extended concept of education (Kolleck, De Haan, & Fischbach, 2012).

What remains ambiguous, however, is how the rhetorical inclusion of non-formal learning opportunities relates to OSOs' role in the regional organization of school education. We expect that OSOs are involved both in terms of providing non-formal learning opportunities and in terms of engaging in the coordination of action. In this paper, we investigate the consequences for OSOs by applying a governance perspective and taking a closer look at potential interdependencies.

Previous governance analyses of regionalization programs have primarily focused on local authorities (Otto, Sendzik, Berkemeyer, & Manitius, 2012; Ratermann & Stöbe-Blossey, 20l2a; Rürup & Röbken, 2015; Zymek, Wendt, Hegemann, & Ragutt, 2011). The involvement of other actors, such as schools (Emmerich, 2016) and local organizations (e.g., youth welfare organizations) (Täubig, 2011), is also addressed. However, OSOs are rarely the object of governance analysis (e.g., see Rürup & Röbken, 2015). This is surprising given that the extended concept of education is becoming commonplace (e.g., BMBF, 2005) and that there are many programs as well as research projects focusing on regional governance arrangements both in Germany and internationally (see Baumheier & Warsewa, 2009; van Ackeren, Brauckmann, & Klein, 2016). In particular, a systematic analysis of OSOs' opportunities for participation in the regional coordination of action is needed, and it is this gap we hope to address here.

We approach our research objective from an empirical-analytical governance perspective (Altrichter & Maag Merki, 2016). Therefore, we operate on the premise that the transformation of regulation in school education is coordinated by means of various modes applied by interdependent social actors in specific constellations (see Figure l). Explained differently, the organization of school education by regional actors can be operationalized as

* actor constellations with specific coordination mechanisms based on

* the rule structure of regionalization programs

* involving a variety of actors in a multilevel system. …

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