Works Cited

Antonio, a.  (2005).  The German educational system–Framework for educational reforms? Retrieved 09 March 2013 from http://www.fnf.org.ph/seminars/reports/german-educatonal-system.htm

Berlin Timeline.  (ND).  The Cold War Museum.  Retrieved 09 March 2013 from http://www.coldwar.org/articles/60s/BerlinWallTimeLine.asp

“Integration and Education: Immigrants in Germany Falling Behind.”  (2006).  Retrieved 09 March 2013 from http://www.spiegel.de/international/integration-and-education-immigrants-in-germany-falling-behind-a-416429.html

Kubow, P. & Fossum, P. (2007).  Comparative education: Exploring issues in international context.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Reucher, G.  (2012).  “What does ‘educational equality’ really mean?”  DW.  Retrieved 09 March 2013 from http://www.dw.de/what-does-educational-equality-mean-anyway/a-15927951.   

 

Photo credits are listed under photos in web pages. 

 

 

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Frank’s Framework: Germany

By Jess Bank

Because the educational system used by the FRG during the days of East and West Germany is the system used today, we will analyze the educational system used today using Frank’s Framework.  Frank’s Framework has four topics and three lines of questioning for each topic.  While the questions are most effective when used at one time and regarding one particular issue, the framework can also be applied broadly by applying knowledge of the educational system and addressing questions that seem appropriate for the issue.  Frank’s Framework can be found on page 274 of the Kubow and Fossum (2007) text.

Policy Effectiveness

One question addressed under policy effectiveness is, “what monetary and other costs are associated?” Education is compulsory and government-funded, much like it is in the United States, so there is a good deal of government funds associated with education; however, I am more inclined to consider the other costs associated with this educational system.  When being sorted into secondary education tracks, students whose parents have degrees are at an academic advantage, and immigrants are at a distinct disadvantage (Reucher, 2012) (Speigel, 2006).  The costs associated with this is that students who are disadvantaged are sorted into tracks of lower achievement and probably do not get degrees.  When their children go to school and are sorted, the same thing could potentially happen.  This cycle lends itself to class stratification, which is a huge social cost to consider.

Theoretical Adequacy

In terms of theoretical adequacy, we will next cover, “what reasoning and justifications are associated with this issue?” One idea illustrated in the Kubow and Fossum (2007) text is that students can change tracks, or “move up or down the ladder (pg. 192).”  When met with the criticisms of students being sorted too early, I think German educators could use this idea to rebut.  While students are sorted, it is not a permanent sort, nor is it indicative of a student’s ultimate ability to enter the university–in theory, anyway.

Empirical Validity

“What signs or specific changes related to an issue might be relevant? Will these be broadly reconized?”  In short: everything changed, and yes it’s recognized.  While it’s not an issue per se, the entire educational structure of East Germany changed, resulting in mass layoffs of teachers, a completely different approach to education itself, and a different view of how education should function and what purpose it should serve.  This huge overhaul of…everything, really, is still broadly recognized because the wall fell in 1989–just over 20 years ago.  These changes are all relevant because it changed the whole structure of a country, so it is, of course, relevant.

Ethical Merit

Finally, let’s examine the question of roles and responsibilities–“are roles and responsibilities openly discussed?” In some senses, yes.  Because of the tiered government system of overseeing education, roles are very well-defined by necessity, and I believe if they are well-defined, they are discussed.  Additionally, teachers in Germany have such influence over sorting their students–another role that is widely recognized and, therefore, most likely discussed.

Frank’s Framework: England

Frank’s Framework has three elements: Policy Effectiveness, Theoretical Adequacy, and Empirical Validity.

by. Michael Carver

This blog post will take a look at England through the eyes of this Frank’s framework by addressing some of the questions that arise from that framework.

Policy Effectiveness:

“How do sources and degrees of support and dissent affect action on an issue or proposal?” (Kubow, 2007, p. 274)

The Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988 had a major impact on the state and educational role in England. It put forth some broad changes. The two liberal and more conservative parties struggled with completing their own agenda. The conservative party utilized political pressure, media, and public appeals to push their agenda in restructuring the educational system to their views. They used their political support to reform the educational policies to a view that better fit the conservative ideals.

Theoretical Adequacy:

What reasoning and justifications are associated with the issue? (Kubow, 2007, p. 274)

One of the purposes of the ERA was to improve the educational system and to incorporate a more entrepreneurial system. The implementation of the ERA from a theoretical adequacy point seems to be the increase in school performance. The provisions of funding set forth and ability for parents to choose where their children went to school was meant to force the schools to improve or go out of business. The idea is that parents will want to send their children to the schools that perform the best, which would push schools to become better.

Another purpose of the ERA was to promote homogeneity between the different schools. Having a nationalized curriculum was supposed to allow for the schools to be able to all be on a level playing field.  This was meant to also empower parents in choosing their schools. However, this attempt also led to the fear that the schools would be able to at some point be able to choose the parents instead of the intended parents choosing the school. This led to a reinforcement of differences between schools instead of the intended goal of homogeneity.

Empirical Validity:

Is there any empirical evidence regarding the reform? (Kubow, 2007, p. 180)

From the beginning of its inception there have been doubts voiced about the validity of the goals the ERA claimed it outcomes would be about educational equality. Parents and others have voiced their opinions about the disparity that actually existed between the stated goals and outcomes and what seemed to be really happening. There is very little if any empirical evidence to suggest that the ERA achieved its intended goal. Kubow states, “Even early research following the ERA’s inception suggested that some empirical justification existed for the apprehensions voiced about the system’s potential to provide equitable opportunity” (Kubow, 2007, p. 185). This seems to say that the empirical evidence available suggest the ERA achieved the opposite of the initial goal.

General Overview: Germany

By Jess Bank

Germany: A Country Divided

Germany is a fascinating country to study educationally and historically, because there really were two distinct systems in place after World War II until 1989 when the wall is considered to have officially fallen.  After World War II, Germany either identified with the Allied Forces (West Germany) or followed more communist ideals (East Germany).  Therefore, the wall truly was a tangible thing to keep the two views separate.

http://berlinwall.soaringdevelopment.com/divisions.aspx

The FRG, or Federal Republic of Germany, was the governmental system declared by West Germany and believed in a capitalist society.  The former GDR (the German Democratic Republic) identified with communism.  Kubow and Fossum (2007) stated that in many respects, the GDR’s system of education was more coherent than in the west because, under the FRG plan, there were (and still are in present-day Germany) three overseers to education: local government, The Lander (state government), and the federal government all act as overseers to the educational system.  However, in East Germany, there was one overseeing body, which streamlined the education process and helped the educational system be much more cohesive.

Education in West Germany

Education reform and changes often happen from the Lander and then travels up to the federal level.  This structure, said Stevenson and Nerison-Low (1999), meant that educational standards handed down from the federal government were often seen as merely suggestions (rpt. in Kubow and Fossum, 2007).

In an effort to create educational equality, the FRG drafted a temporary constitution which held that every citizen could choose his/her education to lead to a desired profession–this was a right according to the Greundgesetz.  The FRG’s commitment to equality in education is also demonstrated through compulsory education requirements.  While kindergarten is not mandatory, education begins for students at age six.  At age ten, students are sorted into three educational groups, and advance to a different school for the next 9-10 years.  These three schools (which will be discussed later ) determine which higher education students will pursue, if at all.  One distinct advantage to this system, in theory anyway, is the idea that students can travel between schools; in other words, “move up or down the ladder (Perry, 1991 rpt. in Kubow and Fossum, 2007).

Education in East Germany

East Germany, headed by the GDR, approached education with a completely different philosophy.  First, the goal of education in East Germany differed greatly from the FRG’s view, due to the simple fact that the governments were so different from each other.  The purpose of schooling in East Germany had three overarching objectives: first, guarantee the economic development of its society; second, establish a classless society; and finally, ensure the views of communism were not threatened.

In addition to differing political views about education, the former GDR’s educational structure was different as well.  Students would begin compulsory education at age six and attend school for ten years.  After the ten-year period, some students would continue with an additional two years of schooling that was not compulsive.  The school system followed what is called the polytechnical model, which was not specifically focused on any one area of study, but was meant to prepare students with practical knowledge and skills, including pre-military training.  By the time students reached the seventh grade, approximately 1/3 of all curriculum was devoted to math and science.

The wall falls: A merging of two educational systems

Once the Berlin Wall fell, Germany was left to create an educational system that served the needs of both East and West citizens.  What ended up happening was the the system the FDR had in place ended up being the educational system used nation-wide.  One of the reasons for the overall adoption of the FRG system could be the call for change from East Germans prior to the falling of the wall.  A chart below illustrates how the educational system today works:

http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~rdalton/germany/ch5/chap5.htm

Grundschule, the equivalent of the United States’ elementary school, is the first stage of compulsory education.  At age ten, students are sorted and it is determined whether they attend Hauptschule, Realschule, or the Gymnasium.  Many critics say that sorting students in the fourth grade is far too early to determine whether a students will be attending a university or not.  The Hauptschule is basically an easy way to finish out mandatory education.  The Realschule is sort of a middle ground between Hauptschule and the Gymnasium, which is the university track.

The criticism of early sorting is not the only negative thing that can be said about Germany’s education system.  In a recent study, researchers found that immigrants do not perform as well in class as native-born Germans do (Spiegel, 2006).  This creates a class disparity because immigrants who are not performing well in the fourth grade are placed into compulsory education that does not lead to the university.  However, as Antonio (2005) points out, there is high interest in vocational tracks, and so students may prefer to enter Hauptschule or Realschule.

Some implications of the merging to the FRG system was the displacement and different roles of teachers.  After Reunification, an estimated 29,000 teachers lost their jobs (Kubow and Fossum, 2007).  Additionally, teachers were displaced because certain subjects were considered “susceptible to ideological contamination (pg. 198).”  However, the FRG did attempt to aid the displaced teachers in some ways, like teaching Russian teachers (the language of instruction in East Germany) how to teach English.

General Overview: England

by. Michael Carver

England’s Educational System can be best viewed through the Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1988.

The ERA involved four main policy changes:

  • “A restructuring of school governance roles and duties,
  • A call for parental choice in determining their children’s schools,
  • The adoption of a national curriculum, and
  • The establishment of national student assessment guidelines.” (Kubow, 2007, p. 174)

 

The governing bodies wanted to put more structure in the schools, industrialize the system (make the system more in tune with industrial growth and economic improvement), and put more pressure on the schools to improve their educational practices. The ERA attempted to do this by limited the monetary input into the educational system, and enacting a set of nationalized educational standards that the schools would need to follow.

The goal of putting more choices into the parent’s hands on what schools their children attended was meant to inspire and spur the educational institutions to improve in order to increase their own attendance. Due to the fact that funding was tied directly to the number of students enrolled, it was thought that every school would improve to compete for students which would be better off for the educational system.

A national curriculum was supposed to standardize the school and put them on equal footing; however it was more effective in highlighting the differences between the schools and created an even larger disparity between the schools. This is also the same result from the establishment of national student assessment guidelines.

The ERA was meant to centralize education and incorporate commonality throughout the system. There are groups that are trying for movement back to local autonomy and decentralization.