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Education Policy. GV280 Week 24 12 March 2012. 1988-2001: Education reform in the UK and the US. UK: Education Reform Act 1988 US: No Child Left Behind 2001 How did these measures pass?

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Education policy

Education Policy


Week 24

12 March 2012

1988 2001 education reform in the uk and the us
1988-2001: Education reform in the UK and the US

UK: Education Reform Act 1988

US: No Child Left Behind 2001

  • How did these measures pass?

  • What were the constraints on education reform in each country?

Education issues
Education issues

  • What is it for?

  • Who should provide it?

  • Who should control it?

  • What limits should be placed on it?

  • Should different types of people receive different types of education?

Why educate i training for the workforce
Why educate?(I) Training for the workforce

  • No moral imperative for providing education ...

  • ... but a compelling economic case for doing so

  • Implies education to differing levels

  • State’s role in education less important ...

  • ... so private education has a clear role to play

Why educate ii delivery of a basic human right
Why educate?(II) Delivery of a basic human right

  • Concept of natural rights

  • If education is a natural right, everyone is entitled to receive it

  • Implies that everyone should be educated to the same level

    • Equality of opportunity

  • State must provide education

  • Private education an anomaly

How much education
How much education?

  • Training vs natural right:

    • Too much education?

  • How much is enough?

    • Primary?

    • Secondary?

    • Tertiary?

      • Tuition fees – ‘education is a right, not a privilege’

Different types of education
Different types of education?

  • Technical vs academic

    • Technical colleges vs secondary modern (and grammar schools)

  • Vocational qualifications

    • Popular in times of economic downturn

    • Types:

      • Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI) (1980s)

      • General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) (1990s)

      • Diplomas (2000s)

Local vs national responsibility i
Local vs national responsibility (I)


  • ‘A national system, locally administered’

  • 1944 Education Act – main role in provision of education devolved to local authorities

  • In practice, schools mainly autonomous

  • Thatcher government takes control in 1980s

Local vs national responsibility ii
Local vs national responsibility (II)


  • Very limited role for federal government until 1950s

  • Department of Education not established until 1979

  • Gradual expansion of federal influence over subsequent years

The uk milestones in education since the war
The UK: milestones in educationsince the war

  • 1944 Education Act

    • Creates new primary/secondary structure

    • Local authorities made responsible for education

    • Tripartite education system

      • Grammar

      • Technical

      • Secondary modern

  • 1960s: Transition to comprehensive education

  • 1988 Education Reform Act

Education reform act 1988
Education Reform Act 1988

  • Introduction of market principles to education

  • Parental choice

  • Local authorities marginalized

  • ‘Opt-out’ (grant maintained) schools & City Technology Colleges [later superseded by Labour’s Academies]

  • Local Management of Schools (LMS)

    • Per capita distribution of funds

    • Step on the road to privatization

  • National curriculum

    • Centralized control; Secretary of State’s augmented power

    • But not wanted by original drafters of the Act

The us milestones in education since the war
The US: milestones in educationsince the war

  • 1954: Brown vs Board of Education

    • Introduces the concept of civil rights to schools!

    • More broadly encourages concept of education as a general right

  • 1965: Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

    • Establishes framework for US education

    • Promotes equality of educational provision

    • Prohibits centralization of curriculum ...

    • ... and role of federal government still highly circumscribed

  • 1994: Clinton’s ‘Goals 2000’

    • Establishes a set of objectives to be achieved by year 2000, e.g. 90 per cent high school completion rate

  • 2001: No Child Left Behind

No child left behind act 2001
No Child Left Behind Act, 2001

  • George W. Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’

    • Distancing Bush from congressional Republicans’ ‘small state’ principles

    • Competing with Democrats for moral high ground

  • Represents frustration at the pace of reform under ‘Goals 2000’

  • Bi-partisan bill

    • Compromise with Democrats on key points

Nclb the trade offs
NCLB: the trade-offs

  • Voucher scheme

    • In schools that failed to make adequate progress, parents could take the funds allocated to a student and use them to gain entry to a public or private school

    • A holy grail for the Republican right

    • Achievable, given Republican control of Congress and the presidency?

    • Nevertheless, voucher element in NCLB was voted down in Congress – with 68 House Republicans voting against it

  • Greater federal influence over education moderated by additional autonomy for states

    • Central demands balanced by greater freedom in the use of federal funds

Nclb provisions
NCLB provisions

  • Imposed testing system based on new academic standards criteria

    • Annual testing for grades 3-8

    • English proficiency tests for non-native English speakers

  • ‘Highly qualified teacher’ for core subjects

  • Accountability and support system for schools that fail

    • Addresses the shortcomings of Goals 2000

  • Extended support for charter schools

Charter schools
Charter schools

  • Originated in Minnesota, 1992

  • Free from local authority control

  • Often operate in poorer communities

  • Open to private funding

  • Use innovative teaching and learning methods to drive up standards ...

  • ... but subject to a number of criticisms:

    • Frequently raise standards by excluding underperforming students

    • Permit profit-seeking investors to enter education market

    • Reject special needs/non-native English speaking students

    • Ignore unions/teachers’ employment rights

Michael gove s free schools
Michael Gove’s free schools

  • Extends existing ‘academy’ status set up by Labour

  • Enables parents, businesses and charities to establish schools outside control of local authorities

  • Funded directly by central government

  • Academy status now available to every secondary school

Education as a political issue how do you achieve reform
Education as a political issue:how do you achieve reform?

  • Questions over quality & standards

  • ‘Reasonableness’ of proposals

    • But ... Keith Joseph & voucher scheme

  • Interests vs politicians

  • Public opinion & the climb up the agenda

Education policy
Most important problem – educationProportion describing education as the most important problem facing the US, 1970-2001Source: Gallup

Education policy
Most important issue – educationProportion describing education as the most important issue facing the UK, 1974-2011Source: Ipsos-Mori

Why radical education policies were possible in the us nclb
Why radical education policies were possible in the US - NCLB

  • Greater saliency of issue

  • Cross-party congressional agreement

    • Significant compromises

  • Incremental expansion of federal role

  • Presidential mandate

  • Republican president could go further than Democrat president?

    • Vic Klatt: ‘The only way that a bill like NCLB could have passed was if a Republican president supported it.’

  • Interest groups emasculated (politicians more interested in listening to voters than to interest groups)

    • Series of attempted reforms failed until issue saliency rose

Why radical education policies were possible in the uk 1988 act
Why radical education policies were possible in the UK – 1988 Act

  • Elective dictatorship

    • No need for consensus building

    • Government can ride roughshod over unions/interest groups

    • Issue saliency apparently irrelevant

Us vs uk
US 1988 Actvs UK

  • US – change incremental, moderate, requires consensus

  • UK – change simply requires the government’s will to implement it

Education policy success or failure
Education policy – success or failure? 1988 Act

  • Some success in US in attaining NCLB targets

  • Charter schools – some better, some worse than normal public schools

  • Academies & free schools – overall improvement in standards

    • But emphasis on vocational qualifications may account for much of improvement

      • Selection element

    • Plus may impact on other local schools

    • And most schools are more concerned about financial benefits than academic ones

Accountability and marketization the downside
Accountability and 1988 Actmarketization – the downside

  • ‘Unfunded mandates’

    • Not enough central funds to allow schools in poorer areas to meet requirements

  • ‘Failing’ status tends to lead to downward spiral

    • Hard to recruit good teachers to a failing school

  • ‘Teaching to the test’

  • Moving the goalposts

    • Lack of national control (in the US) leave states free to manipulate testing criteria

  • Success – or else!

    • Evidence of increasing numbers of expulsions accompanying improved test results