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Education in the Best Interests of the Child

Education in the Best Interests of the Child: A Children's Rights Perspective on Closing the Achievement Gap

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Education in the Best Interests of the Child
    Book Description:

    Building on the children's rights work accomplished in their previous book,Empowering Children, Brian Howe and Katherine Covell identify three types of reform that can significantly close the educational achievement gap.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6610-8
    Subjects: Education, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Chapter One In Search of the Best Interests of the Child
    (pp. 3-15)

    We recently saw a school-aged boy wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a school desk and the caption ʺancient torture device.ʺ We smiled. But as we did so, we thought about the reality of this for so many children in todayʹs schools. Approaches to educating our children are in a lot of respects ancient. There have been few fundamental changes in curricula, pedagogy, or educational practices since compulsory schooling began in the mid- to late 1800s. The use of individual desks, such as that pictured on the t-shirt, continues in many schools. Participatory teaching styles, with support for childrenʹs...

  6. Chapter Two The Principle of the Best Interests of the Child
    (pp. 16-48)

    The principle of the best interests of the child is relatively new. Originating in the late 1800s, the principle was first applied to law and judicial decision-making in the area of determining child custody arrangements. Its meaning was simple: The welfare or well-being of the child had to be a consideration or a primary consideration in deciding custody. Custody could no longer be awarded on the basis of a presumption in favour of either the mother or father solely on the basis of economic, religious, or cultural factors. The welfare – or best interests of the individual child – had...

  7. Chapter Three Challenges for Best Interests in Education
    (pp. 49-80)

    The challenges for the application of the principle of best interests in education are many. One that has particular significance is the inequality of educational opportunity experienced by socially disadvantaged children. As explained in the previous chapter, according to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, children not only have the right to education but they also have the right to enjoy education on the basis of equal opportunity. Achieving equal opportunity requires that political and education authorities take action not only to eliminate discrimination but also to level the playing field such that obstacles to opportunities are...

  8. Chapter Four Implementing Early Childhood Education
    (pp. 81-108)

    By failing to tackle the achievement gap, education authorities help to perpetuate inequality of opportunity. Socially disadvantaged children become further disadvantaged through lack of educational success. But this outcome is not inevitable. Education systems can make a difference. To make a difference, however, there is a need among policy-makers and education authorities to understand the critical importance of the early years and the early effects of disadvantage on the educational prospects of children. As discussed in chapter 3, there is a large body of research showing that all children do not reach elementary school or even kindergarten with the same...

  9. Chapter Five Improving School Practices
    (pp. 109-149)

    Fourteen-year-old Chris Emery had pretty much given up on school. His parents were struggling financially. His grades were low and his disengagement high. Chris planned to drop out and become a cook. But four years later, a successful high school graduate, he was on his way to college to study neuroscience. What happened? Chris changed schools. Moving to ʺthe Metʺ in Providence, Rhode Island, Chris went from disengaged to inspired, from failure to success. Chrisʹs story is not unique at this school. Comprising students from low-income families who have failed at conventional schools, the Met has an almost perfect graduation...

  10. Chapter Six Transforming School Cultures
    (pp. 150-190)

    Education in the best interests of the child requires more than the revising of practices or the restructuring of schools. It also requires the transformation of school cultures or what Michael Fullan (2001, p. 44) callsreculturing. The practices that take place inside a school do not exist in a vacuum: They exist in the context of a schoolʹs culture, which strongly affects the motivation and willingness of members of a school to act in certain ways. School culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, norms, assumptions, and expectations in a school that inform and guide school functioning and practices....

  11. Chapter Seven Moving Forward
    (pp. 191-206)

    If education were truly in the best interests of the child, children with backgrounds of social disadvantage would enjoy their right to education on the basis of equal opportunity. But such is not the case. Across the developed world, to greater or lesser degrees, there continues to be an achievement gap. As in the past, disadvantaged children are more likely than other children to be disengaged from school, experience school failure, and drop out of school. As a result, in later life, their health and economic outcomes are less positive. Early inequality brings later inequality. This need not occur. The...

  12. References
    (pp. 207-250)
  13. Index
    (pp. 251-259)