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Educating Citizens

Educating Citizens: International Perspectives on Civic Values and School Choice

Patrick J. Wolf
Stephen Macedo
David J. Ferrero
Charles Venegoni
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 397
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  • Book Info
    Educating Citizens
    Book Description:

    The United States is in the midst of historic experiments with publicly funded choice in K-12 education, experiments that recently received a "green light" from the Supreme Court. Other nations have long experience with the funding and regulation of nonpublic schools, including religious schools. This book asks what U.S. policymakers, public officials, and citizens can learn from these experiences. In particular, how do other countries regulate or structure publicly funded educational choice with an eye toward civic values -looking not only for improvements in test scores, but also in tolerance, civic cohesion, and democratic values such as integration across the lines of class, religion, and race?

    The experience of Europe and Canada with school choice is both extensive and varied. In England and Wales, public school choice is widespread, as parents play a significant role in selecting the school their children will attend. In the Netherlands and much of Belgium, a majority of students attend religious schools at government expense. In Canada, France, and Germany, state-financed school choice is limited to circumstances that serve particular social and governmental needs. In Italy, school choice has just recently arrived on the policy agenda. In spite of the diversity of national experiences, in all of these countries choice is regulated by the government in significant and varied ways to promote civic values. In several of these countries, school choice policy itself appears to have played an important role in promoting social cohesion and integration. This book presents a wealth of experience designed to aid policymakers and citizens as they consider historic changes in American public education policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9668-8
    Subjects: Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Preface
    (pp. IX-XIV)
  4. 1 Introduction: School Choice, Civic Values, and Problems of Policy Comparison
    (pp. 1-28)

    Our mandate for contributors to this volume was, at least apparently, simple. The United States is in the midst of historic experiments with publicly funding school choice in K–12 education. Other nations have long experience with the funding and regulation of nonpublic schools (as we would call them), including religious schools. What, we wanted to know, can U.S. policymakers, public officials, and citizens learn from those experiences? In particular, we wanted to know how other countries have regulated or structured public funding of educational choice with an eye not just toward improving test scores and the like, but also...

  5. Part 1: Country Case Studies

    • 2 Regulating School Choice to Promote Civic Values: Constitutional and Political Issues in the Netherlands
      (pp. 31-66)

      Freedom of education has always been a main characteristic of the Dutch school system. This freedom has two dimensions. First, groups of individuals are, within certain legal limits, free to establish and operate state-independent primary and secondary schools according to their own religious, philosophical, or pedagogical principles. These schools, when they fulfill the criteria set by law, are fully funded by the state. Second, parents are free to choose the school that they want their children to attend, and when the chosen school is funded by the state, it has to be free for all pupils ages four to sixteen....

    • 3 Private Schools as Public Provision for Education: School Choice and Market Forces in the Netherlands
      (pp. 67-90)

      Unlike parents in most areas of the United States, parents in different European societies have a real choice of comparable schools, both public and private, and they can exercise their options without paying very high fees. Most often the private schools are Catholic or Protestant schools that operate within the national educational system and receive state grants.

      In international discussions on the expansion of parental choice and the private delivery of education, the Dutch arrangement quite often is regarded as “unique.” Central to the Dutch arrangement are two constitutional rights: the right of freedom of education and the right of...

    • 4 Regulation, Choice, and Basic Values in Education in England and Wales: A Legal Perspective
      (pp. 91-130)

      The political, economic, and philosophical underpinnings of the development of school choice in England and Wales have been well covered by scholars.¹ Less attention, however, has been paid to the role of law. The educational policy literature understandably adopts a broad-brush approach to the legal dimension of policy implementation—not least because the increasing volume and complexity of the law make any other approach appear impractical. This is doubly problematic because of the importance of the role of law in shaping not only the educational system itself but also the relationships among the various interested individuals and institutions.

      The framework...

    • 5 School Choice Policies and Social Integration: The Experience of England and Wales
      (pp. 131-156)

      In the United Kingdom, parents may express their preference for any state-funded school that they wish to educate their children, as well as choose to pay for a private school.Allschools therefore are choice schools, and the range of types of schools within the publicly funded sector is growing, though they have a limited number of places. This chapter considers the impact of fifteen years of school choice and diversity on school composition, standards, cohesion, and justice. It presents a summary of the findings of what so far has been the largest study of a system of school choice,...

    • 6 Regulating School Choice in Belgium’s Flemish Community
      (pp. 157-186)

      The framing of education legislation and chiefly the question of school choice were historically and remain today among the key political issues in Belgium. In 1830 Belgium became an independent unitary and centralized state. Between 1970 and 1993, the 1831 constitution was reformed in several steps to develop a federal system in which there are three policy levels, each with its own legislative and executive bodies and responsibilities: the federal state, the linguistic and cultural communities, and the regions. There is no hierarchy of these three policy levels.¹

      The principle of “federal loyalty” was enshrined during the most recent phase...

    • 7 The Civic Implications of Canada’s Education System
      (pp. 187-212)

      In 2001, the government of the Canadian province of Ontario announced that it would grant tax credits for tuition paid to private—including religious—elementary and secondary schools. The policy detonated an explosive debate within Ontario over the role of private, particularly religious, schools in a pluralistic democracy. Public support for private schools, critics argue, will only splinter Ontario’s increasingly diverse population—an outcome antithetical to Canadians’ collective vision of their nation as a harmonious blend of different cultures. For example, the head of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission (a body funded by the Ontario government) has described the policy as...

    • 8 School Choice and Civic Values in Germany
      (pp. 213-237)

      Over most of its history, Germany has had a dual system of public and private educational institutions, though the emphasis of this system has shifted through the centuries. The history of institutionalized schooling in Germany began in the eighth century with the establishment of monastery and church schools. Five centuries later, municipalities first established “public” Latin schools, mostly following the educational pattern of the existing religious schools; thereafter, various kinds of public and private schools came into being. It was not until the Protestant Reformation, when monastery and church schools began to secularize, that any major changes in schooling took...

    • 9 School Choice and Its Regulation in France
      (pp. 238-267)

      TheConseil Constitutionnel, roughly speaking the French equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in a decision handed down in 1977 that “liberty of teaching” (la liberté de l’enseignement) is “one of the basic principles recognized by the laws of the Republic” and one on which the Constitution of 1958 has conferred constitutional status.¹ Moreover, according to the Constitution of 1946, to provide “free, public” education is “a duty of the state.”

      Currently, about 65 percent of students in France’s primary and secondary schools (that is, K–12 schools) attend the public school to which they are assigned by local...

    • 10 Italy: The Impossible Choice
      (pp. 268-286)

      Questions about the public regulation of nonpublic schools and the role that such regulation should play in U.S. education policy cannot be immediately and obviously answered by examining Italy’s experience, for two basic reasons. First of all, school choice was not considered an educational issue in Italy until the 1990s. Because there has not been much public debate on the topic, none of the various government administrations, whether left-or right-oriented, have ever developed a real strategy to promote school choice. Rather, the political debate has focused on the role of private institutions in the development of public values. Second, Italy’s...

    • 11 Do Public and Religious Schools Really Differ? Assessing the European Evidence
      (pp. 287-312)

      As the preceding chapters in this volume demonstrate, parental choice in education—parents’ freedom to choose their children’s school—is a major topic in educational policy in many European nations.¹ In Europe as in the United States, parental choice in educational systems often is advocated as a means to introduce competition for pupils between schools and to decrease the level of bureaucracy in and related to schools, thereby improving the quality of teaching and perhaps reducing the cost of education.²

      One common assumption of advocates of publicly funded parental choice in the United States is that private schools—especially religious...

  6. Part 2: Analysis and Commentary

    • 12 Civic Republicanism, Political Pluralism, and the Regulation of Private Schools
      (pp. 315-323)

      In reviewing the various chapters in this volume, one is struck by the difficulties inherent in the formulation of the question raised in the title of the conference that gave rise to the volume: “Regulating School Choice to Promote Civic Values: What Can the U.S. Learn from the Experience of Other Nations?” For example, the anodyne phrase “regulating school choice” covers, and to some extent conceals, the diversity of national stances toward the idea of choice itself. Denis Meuret shows that in France, the official stance is ideologically negative. The idea there is that if parents do reject a school,...

    • 13 Regulatory Strings and Religious Freedom: Requiring Private Schools to Promote Public Values
      (pp. 324-338)

      InZelmanv.Simmons-Harris, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that governments may, consistent with the First Amendment, allow religious schools to participate in school choice programs.¹ That the Constitutionpermitsus to experiment with programs that include religious schools, however, does not mean that weshould. Nor does theZelmandecision answer the many difficult questions about how such experiments and programs should be designed, implemented, and regulated.

      Accordingly, the aim of this volume is to enrich our conversations and illuminate the regulatory options that we face by canvassing other countries’ experiences with school choice. As more and more American...

    • 14 School Choice as a Question of Design
      (pp. 339-354)

      We suddenly find citizens and legislatures making all kinds of demands upon the school system,” wrote a Teachers College professor more than eighty years ago. “Since many of the proposals that are being made among us have been exemplified in the school systems of other nations, it might be well for us, before undertaking any radical reorganization of the spirit and method of American public education, to find out what has resulted from the application of similar policies in other countries. Furthermore, a study of the administrative systems which those other nations have built up will aid in guiding our...

    • 15 Regulation in Public and Private Schools in the United States
      (pp. 355-367)

      There is a legendary television commercial in the folklore of American school choice battles. It appeared in conjunction with a referendum to create private school tuition tax credits in the state of Oregon in 1992. The commercial begins with a tight, close-up shot of a teacher writing in chalk on a blackboard. One can hear voices, but not clearly. The camera moves back, revealing a teacher wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. As the camera pans further, the backs of a class of small children, also dressed as Klansmen, appear. The advertisement was designed to highlight the claim...

    • 16 A Regulated Market Model: Considering School Choice in the Netherlands as a Model for the United States
      (pp. 368-382)

      The Dutch example demonstrates that open educational choice that includes the public subsidy of religious schools can exist without weakening civic cohesion. Indeed, there is much to suggest that choice can be part of a system that strengthens it. Evidence from parental preferences and student attitudes, for example, indicates that religious schools can do at least as well as public schools in promoting strong civic values, perhaps even better. And the reasons that Dutch parents give for preferring religious schools over state-run schools are more likely to assuage liberal-democratic anxieties about public support for public religious schools than they are...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 383-384)
  8. Index
    (pp. 385-397)