A. 1920’s and 1930’s were a pivotal time of change for the way things were taught
1. social promotion based on age instead of standard exams
2. new advances decreased need for child labor practices
3. stronger attendance laws were put in place to help enforce new laws against child labor
B. Policy shifts in Order to change Education with the Times
1. emphasis was less on keeping students and training them for jobs
2. new priorities included psychological essentials for the younger age groups
3. also, developing new ways of teaching that would change the educational system
C. Thomas Briggs
1. critical that changes did not solve educational problems
2. “junior high school is an opportunity, not a specific [remedy]”
A. Aubrey Douglass - advocate for innovation
1. 1945 - departmentalization (to separate classes by teacher and subject) was problematic
2. junior highs were repeating same problems as high schools
B. Kenneth Tye - 1977
1. Studied 12 junior high schools, confirmed Douglass’ fears from 32 years prior
C. Carnegie Council On Adolescent Development- 1989
1. bad mismatch between organization and curriculum of schools and the needs of
2. shift from elementary to junior high schools was a lot of change to handle.
3. more impersonal, a lot larger, students and teachers changed 6 or 7 times a day
4. increased risk of alienation, drug abuse, absenteeism and dropping out.
A. Why were there consequences?
1. It is easier short-term to copy another system, like a high school, then to invent a new
2. educators were concerned that public needed to consider junior highs as legitimate
3. high schools had educators that were themselves more educated. Most junior highs
staffed by grade school teachers who aren’t usually as progressive or educated.
B. What were the symptoms?
1. classes were simplified versions of exact same high school classes
2. ended up being taught by same teachers as high schoolers
3. junior high students participating in same extracurricular activities
C. Two fundamental problems
1. how to smooth transitional educational transition from grade school to high school
2. how to take a developmental approach to teaching and learning various subjects, and
how they correspond between school and social, vocational, ethical and health needs of
IV. Bad Interactions
A. Rather than wipe the slate clean, reforms have piled up on top of each other
B. Some reforms meshed well together, most have not
C. Primary example of failure: governance of New York school system
V. New York - Institutional Experience and Vested Interests
A. Centralization started in 1890’s with emphasis in expert management
1. No more school ward committees, one central board with schools ran by ‘experts’
2. the goal was to achieve greater accountability, if this didn’t work, it’s this expert’s fault
3. result was a push back by educators and districts
1. New York City split into 32 school districts, which were still huge
2. result was bureaucracy, and complete lack of accountability
3 whenever a problem was brought up to any one department, the quick go to slogan
was “it’s not my department”
4. No clear indication what or where the headquarters was
5. New chancellor, Joseph Fernandez, took the job in 1990, and had no clear indication
of who was in charge. Ordering highlighters took a month, window cleaning, a year
A. Vague term used in businesses and financial markets
B. Was not clear what was meant by the term
1.teacher professionalization or empowerment?
2.decentralization and school site management?
3. increased involvement of the parents?
4. standardized testing, and many others
C. Has come to take on sole meaning of raising academic achievement
The quick and thoughtful solution to this was and is junior high schools. Unfortunately, primary school teachers and high school teachers follow twoistinctly different college programs, with nothing in the middle to bridge the gap. So these junior high students usually end up being taught by high school educators if the junior highs are physically linked to the senior high schools, or by grade school teachers if the junior highs remain separate. This causes physchological needs of students trapped within this transitional period to not be met. Instead of helping them to slowly work there way into a high school program, they are now forced to interact with high schools at a much higher rate than they would have otherwise. Several attempts have been made to reform the reforms, but usually creative language and vested interests have made erasing old reforms hard to do, so the two reforms are forced to coincide with each other.
Pedagogy (or teaching strategies) has been muffled and hurt, and is being tossed around by bureaucracies and departments that do not communicate with each other, and none of whom seem to have any ties with headquarters, if a headquarters even does exist.
At the end of the day, it remains the students that suffer the most. A sad but great example of this failure is the New York school system.
Three reflective questions based on reading
1. How has the federal government tried to intervene, how much more could they do?
2. What can teachers do themselves to help students with the transition from grade school to high school?
3. Could New York’s system been decentralized in a way that would not have created such a bureaucratic mess?