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History and Educational Policymaking

History and Educational Policymaking

Maris A. Vinovskis
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    History and Educational Policymaking
    Book Description:

    In this book an eminent scholar and policymaker analyzes the lessons history can teach those who wish to reform the American educational system.Maris Vinovskis begins by tracing the evolving role of the federal government in educational research, providing a historical perspective at a time when there is some movement to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. He then focuses on early childhood education, exploring trends in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He examines the troubling history of the Follow Through Program, which existed from 1967 to 1994 to help Head Start children make the transition into the regular schools, and he reviews the development of the Even Start Program, which works to improve the literacy of disadvantaged parents while providing early childhood education for their children. He discusses changing views toward the economic benefits of education and critically assesses the validity and usefulness of the idea of systemic or standards-based reform. Finally he develops a conceptual framework for mapping and analyzing education research and reform activities.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14722-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    History has long been regarded as a subject of great importance to both policymakers and well-educated citizens. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, history was considered an indispensable guide for understanding how different structures of government might fare. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, social reformers saw a knowledge of history as central to improving the economy and society.

    But as a new sense of professionalism and objectivity in history developed in the twentieth century, most academic historians moved away from producing the kind of historical research that was used by contemporary policymakers. Historians continued to stress the...

  5. Part 1 History and Policymaking

    • Chapter 1 Historians and Policymaking: A Retrospective View
      (pp. 3-48)

      American views of the exact nature and utility of history have varied considerably over time. This is partly the result of changing perceptions of what constitutes the appropriate topics for and methodology of historical study, but it also reflects shirts in societal and personal expectations—including changing public attitudes toward what should be taught in elementary and secondary schools. Changes in the organization and functioning of government as well as in the role of academics in policymaking have created quite different settings for the uses of history. Thus, although there may be widespread agreement that history has played a vital...

  6. Part 2 The Federal Role in Educational Research and Statistics

    • Chapter 2 The Changing Role of the Federal Government in Educational Research and Statistics
      (pp. 51-66)

      With the election of a Republican-controlled Congress in 1994 and 1996, new questions have been raised about the federal role in education. Some members of Congress, for example, question the need for a federal Department of Education and have introduced legislation to abolish that agency. While there are few indications that the Department of Education will be terminated in the near future, disagreements over the role of federal government in education have intensified. During the current debates, the topics of the federal role in research and statistics have surfaced only occasionally. Attention more often is focused on either federal aid...

  7. Part 3 Early Childhood Education

    • Chapter 3 School Readiness and Early Childhood Education
      (pp. 69-88)

      President George Bush and the nation’s governors established six national education goals after their meeting at the Charlottesville Education Summit in 1989. The first of these is perhaps the most widely known and highly esteemed: “By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.” The three objectives of this goal champion pre-school programs, parent training and support, and child nutrition and health care.¹

      Although the specific timetable for having all American children ready for school was new, the stress on early childhood education, parental involvement, and improving the health of children has a longer history....

    • Chapter 4 Is It Time to Reinvent Follow Through? An Analysis of Past Efforts to Sustain the Benefits of Head Start
      (pp. 89-114)

      As noted in chapter 2, early childhood education in general and the Head Start Program in particular received renewed attention in the 1990s. Federal support for preschool programs waned in the 1970s and early 1980s, but Head Start is now enthusiastically embraced by most political leaders as well as by the American public. Both the Bush and Clinton administrations as well as the National Governors’ Association have endorsed the eight national goals—the six that were adopted in 1989 and the two that were added in 1994—including goal one, which states that “by the year 2000, all children in...

    • Chapter 5 The Origins and Development of the Even Start Program
      (pp. 115-142)

      Since the mid-1960s fascination in Washington, D.C., with early childhood education has led to the proliferation of different preschool programs. Rather than focusing all of their attention and funds on a single popular program, such as Head Start, policymakers in both the Congress and the White House have supported different types of projects on early childhood education. Each of these early childhood education programs initially was hailed as a major innovation and its advocates were quick to cite preliminary data from ongoing evaluations to substantiate the importance and efficacy of these new initiatives.

      One of the more recent and rapidly...

  8. Part 4 Other Research and Reform Efforts

    • Chapter 6 Education and the Economic Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America
      (pp. 145-170)

      One notable achievement of American educational history is the shift of focus away from narrow, laudatory analyses of schools toward more critical investigations of educational developments within broader social and historical contexts. Detailed studies of nineteenth-century communities as well as regional and national analyses of educational development have provided new information about education and enriched the overall study of social history.¹ The field of economic history has likewise expanded to deal with such broad social topics as the viability of slavery in the antebellum South and the decline of fertility in nineteenth-century America. And economists are exploring important new issues...

    • Chapter 7 An Analysis of the Concept and Uses of Systemic Educational Reform
      (pp. 171-202)

      Much of American educational development can be characterized as a series of ever-changing but often short-lived reforms, each of which responds to a perceived crisis and stimulates seemingly promising solutions. Unfortunately, many programs of educational reform fade rather quickly as the public and policymakers discover that the proposed changes have not provided significant and lasting improvements in student learning. The faddish nature of most educational reform is well documented and therefore many Americans are understandably skeptical and cautious whenever a reform initiative is launched. At the same time, we maintain faith in the potential efficacy of American schools and frequently...

    • Chapter 8 A Life-Course Framework for Analyzing Educational Research Projects
      (pp. 203-238)

      One of the problems in investigating educational research and reforms from a broader, historical perspective is the lack of an appropriate overall framework for categorizing and analyzing the relevant information. Part of the difficulty is that we often need to look simultaneously at individual and aggregate levels but lack a conceptual framework that can encompass both. Another problem is that many analysts look only at selected aspects of education, frequently focusing exclusively on the roles of the classroom or the school on student outcomes, but do not try to place their subjects within a broader context. Finally, most investigators have...

  9. Conclusion: The Uses of History in Educational Policymaking
    (pp. 239-256)

    The increasingly sharp separation between history and policymaking is in some ways a fairly recent development. During the colonial period and the early nineteenth century, people viewed history as an indispensable part of leadership training. History revealed valuable information about the past experiences of countries and city states and provided models of exemplary individual behavior. Moreover, a knowledge of American history was seen as essential for good citizenship because it fostered patriotism and civic virtue among the general population. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when history became professionalized, scholars and policymakers alike believed that the past had...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 257-330)
  11. Index
    (pp. 331-336)