Anthropological Perspective on Education Reform in Chicago Table of contents Abstract 3 1. Introduction 4 2. Presentation and analysis of the problem and the goals 6 2.1 Problem statement 6 2.2 Goals 6 2.3 Literature review 7 2.3.1 Education and Anthropology 7 2.3.2 Chicago School Reform – challenges and anthropological perspectives 9 3…
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The Chicago School Reform Act of 1988 has been a clear example of the efforts of legislators in USA to identify educational systems that can be feasible, in terms of the resources available, and that ensure equality and quality in education. The above Reform Act has introduced a unique scheme, the Local School Councils (LSCs). This scheme aimed to ensure that student learning is kept at high levels in all public schools in Chicago. In practice, it has been proved that the achievement of the above target is related to many challenges. One of the key weaknesses of LSCs has been its failure to secure the participation of parents in critical educational decisions. Of course, it has been proved that not all parents are ready or willingness to support such initiatives. Still, it seems that the high majority of parents would be ready to participate in innovative schemes, such as the parental networks, for improving their cooperation with their children in regard to the learning process. The review of the literature published in this field has proved that the involvement of parents in parental networks would highly improve the performance of LSCs. At the same time, parental networks would help parents to participate more actively in the learning process, a fact that would make this process more attractive to children. As a result, the parental networks could support the increase of responsiveness of children to learning, either in the short or the long term. 1. Introduction Education in Chicago is provided under the control of the Chicago Board of Education (CBE). The above organization, which was first established in 1840 (CBE 2012), has ‘the responsibility for the governance, organizational and financial oversight of public education in Chicago’ (CBE 2012). Education in Chicago has passed a strong crisis. In 1987, the region’s public schools were considered ‘as the worst across the nation’ (CBE 2012). Today, the public schools of Chicago are considered as a model of innovation, a fact related to the Chicago School Reform Act of 1988/89 (CBE 2012). For many years, education in Chicago public schools had been problematic. The Chicago School Reform Act of 1988 has introduced in order to help towards the decentralization of Chicago’s school, a strategy that was expected to support the improvement of Chicago’s educational system (Soltero 2009, p.58). The increase of participation of parents in the local educational system and the enhancement of the power of the major to participate in the decisions related to Chicago’s public schools were two important features of the Reform Act (Soltero 2009, p.58). The provision of equal rights to children of different racial and economic background has been one of the priorities of the Chicago School Reform. The Reform has been based on the rules of ‘1988 Chicago School Reform Act’ (Koval et al. 2006, p.249). The Reform has been initiated so that two key issues are addressed: a) ‘equality and quality in education are secured’ (Koval et al. 2006, p.249), b) the current market needs for appropriately educated professionals are fully covered (Koval et al. 2006, p.249). The establishment of the Local School Councils (LSCs) was considered as a strategy that could educators to achieve the above goals. Through these Councils ‘
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