Analysis of education policy in the USA
Analysis of education policy in the USA
Promoting diversity is one of most important issues in education worldwide. Complexity of elaborating on promotion of diversity in education lies in the fact that various types of diversity are singled out with respect to different criteria, namely language, cultural, epistemological and social diversity (Tchibozo, 2012, 3).Furthermore, supporting diversity requires comprehensive alignment of such strategic actions as establishing benchmark criteria and institutions for diversity, continuously improving institutional climate with regard to the needs of the students with different backgrounds and experiences, emphasizing diversity in institutional leadership, coordinating diversity-related projects, led by different institutions, addressing the issue of diversity in terms of post-studies job placement and ensuring continuous evaluation and enhancement of educational policies, so that they are capable of ensuring diversity (Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, 2004). Vast majority of these recommendations are also applicable to promoting diversity at all the levels of education.
For the purposes of the following assignment I would like to specifically address Special Education Inclusion Plan, approved by New York City Panel in 2011 to provide for complex restructuring of city’s social diversity and inclusion education program, aimed at enabling thousands of children with disabilities with different social backgrounds to enter New York classrooms. Importance of the program lies in the fact that it directly addresses democracy in education through promoting social diversity, inclusion of students from neediest families, and on special education and equality of opportunities, which lie in the cornerstone of education systems at both federal and states level. The target is represented by students with different social background (definitely, they also come from different cultural settings), who require special support for them getting the chance to be included in the U.S. educational system. The major issue with respect to the program is providing for new and effective funding formula, which will allow allocating money for the city’s neediest students with a special focus on those ones, who require special education. It is worth mentioning that the policy under study fully responds the directions of both federal and states previous diversity and inclusion programs. Promoting diversity and inclusion has been significant social policy issue since 1950s. While in 1970s-1980s it was commonly believed that students with disabilities should be separated from regular classroom, during the 1990s alternative paradigm viewing inclusion as a necessary part of promoting social diversity was introduced into practice (Ainscow&Booth, 1998, 22). So, nowadays various funding-, special educational tools and tutorship-related policies and projects are being developed all over the United States, so that as many students as possible can benefit from social diversity promotion, effective inclusion in classroom and equality of opportunities. Legal prerequisite for adopting the policy under study is represented by Individuals with Disabilities Education Act., which requires working out a performance plan, so that the issues of restrictive environment and disproportionality can be effectively addressed (IDEA, 2013).
Despite seeming to be quite timely and based on practical approaches towards future implementation, the policy was subjected to severe critique by some of governmental stakeholders due to the fact that they consider the policy, providing for introducing changes too quickly, and the funding formula too ambitious to address the needs of target in effective manner (Spencer, 2012). Comprehensive critique of the U.S. policies regarding inclusive education was expressed by various scholars, who tend to lack belief into practical opportunity of full inclusion (Kauffmann&Hallahan, 2005)
As far as we have already mentioned, the main goal of the policy under study is to promote more students with different social backgrounds and in need of special educational settings attending regular classroom in New York City. The main way the policy is going to implement this key democracy-related goal is directly related to reshaping funding formulas for education. In short, the main change lies in providing for effective alignment of the weighted formula, which is used by the Department of Education to allocate funding for the neediest students of the city, focusing on those in need of special education, with its special diversity and inclusion in education initiative. The Plan provides for introducing the funding formula, which will allow allocating necessary funding directly to students, not to special education classes, as it was before. This funding change is expected to be introduced within 5-year period. It is worth mentioning that the plan’s funding initiative is aligned with the U.S. global education policy shift, which says that “dollars should follow students”, reaffirming the need to transfer towards individualized education funding, which is capable of more effective meeting of students’ special education-related needs.
The policy is deeply considered with such values as democracy (the outer aspect of democracy is associated with good for as many stakeholders as possible), human rights (the right to education is one of universally, regionally and nationally recognized basic human rights), rights of minorities, social justice, diversity and inclusion. The values under study fully reflect world dominant political and legal views, highly concerned with promoting the rule of law, democracy and human rights. Promoting diversity in classroom is seen as a key goal in terms of implementing the Plan under study. The Plan directly tackles socio-economic diversity, providing for empowering of needy students with a special focus on those, who are in need for special education. Cultural and gender diversity are inexplicitly considered in terms of the Plan. Being deeply concerned with broader inclusion, the Plan does not either explicitly or implicitly exclude any groups. Inclusion can be seen as both theoretical and totally practical approach. To our mind, history of approaching students with disabilities, turning from total exclusion of these students of regular classroom to promoting their inclusion and equality of opportunities provides for enough evidence to consider inclusion a fully developed multifaceted theory, which serves a reliable basis for the Plan under study.
Both multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism theories have exerted significant influence on the U.S. educational and social contexts due to them helping to practically meet the need to create social and educational space within highly diverse society, so that rights and interests of all the groups can be respected.
Our choice of the policy was caused by our willingness to choose the policy, which does not directly refer neither to multiculturalism, nor cosmopolitanism, but shares the values of both. The main essence of the policy reflects the theory of multiculturalism due to the fact that it is aimed at perceiving differences not from the point of view of them being the source of unity and enriching each other, rather than isolation and misunderstandings. Inclusion is an important aspect of socio-cultural diversity, which contributes to the development of society and sharing values. Truly multicultural society is unimaginable without including not only people with different cultural backgrounds, but the ones, who have different social and educational experiences.
Ainscow, M., Booth, T.(1998). From them to us: an international study of inclusion in education. London: Routledge
Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis (2004).The road ahead: improving diversity in graduate education. Los Angeles: Rossier School of Education
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Retrieved 17 October 2013 from http://nichcy.org/laws/idea
Kaufmann, J.M., Hallahan, D.P. (2005). The illusion of full inclusion: a comprehensive critique of a current education bandwagon. Austin: Pro-ed.Inc
Spencer, K.(2012).City panel approves Special Education Inclusion Plan. Retrieved 17 October 2013 from http://www.wnyc.org/story/303174-city-panel-approves-special-education-inclusion-plan/
Tchibozo, G. (ed.) (2012). Cultural and Social Diversity and the Transition from Education to Work. Berlin: Springer