International Comparative Education
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International comparative education is a new concentration in the field of education that is gaining popularity. Started at Stanford University, this new concentration is a multidisciplinary approach that consists of cross-cultural and international educational studies. The main premise of international comparative education is that in today's society, education and problems related to education are greatly influenced by economic, political, and social factors. An international comparative framework allows educational researchers and professionals to compare the educational systems of developed and developing countries in order to better understand how these factors influence the quality of education. The international comparative framework also allows educational researchers and professionals to utilize theory to formulate solutions and strategies that can be implemented in developed and developing countries to improve the quality of education within their school systems.
Obtaining a Degree in Comparative Education
In order to become specialized in international comparative education, students and professionals must fully understand and become proficient in five disciplines:
- Political science
When practicing international comparative education, professionals seek to compare and describe different educational systems, improve educational policies and practices, establish relationships between society and education, and establish relationships between education and other factors such as economics and politics.
Comparing International Education in Light of United States Educational Goals
In the United States, as in diverse countries across the globe, many citizens regard equitable access to sound educational services as the very foundation of a strong and just society committed to that most honored of principle, equality of opportunity. To attain these goals, many enthusiastically support, at least in theory, the notion that in a democracy every youngster has the right to solid educational services, irrespective of the social or economic background into which s/he might have been born. Unfortunately, however, knowledge of contemporary education systems around the world presents one with greater insights into how countries have failed-rather than into how they have succeeded-in attaining these seemingly fundamental ideals.
Regrettably, the implementation of market-based educational reforms across much of the Western world has had impacts that extend far beyond the erosion of the commitment to the ideal of creating more inclusive education programs. Indeed, comparative, cross-national research by Teelken and colleagues (2005) indicate that the emphasis on parental choice and other market-oriented reforms have generally fallen short even of their own professed objectives. Among other problems, the promotion of parental choice and other market-oriented reforms has engendered heated and distracting debates in various countries over the appropriateness, fairness, and broader short- and long-term consequences of such changes . For instance, whereas many proponents of the quasi-market approach to education assert that such changes would afford increased opportunities particularly for disadvantaged students and promote diversity in schools, opponents counter that such reforms actually contribute to greater inequities between schools, and to the emergence of less diverse student bodies, the definition of multicultural eduction.
According to the Council on Foreign Affairs, recent comparative investigations into the impacts of market-based educational reforms in England, Scotland, and the Netherlands lead Teelken, Driessen, and Smit (2005) to the conclusion that such reforms have fallen disappointingly short of their objectives in large part because of the persistence of significant gulfs between the presumed availability of school choice at the formal level and the actual availability of choice to most parents on an everyday basis. Moreover, while the researchers acknowledge that some inconsistency between formal policy goals and real-world policy impacts is inevitable, the inconsistencies between formal school choice policies and actual choice at the level of the individual student and her/his parent(s) appear to be exceptionally large across a range of national contexts. Thus, the researchers conclude that although the market can serve as a sound mechanism for promoting creativity and new approaches in education, unavoidable impediments to the functioning of market forces within the context of education have worked to ensure dramatic gaps between policy and practice pertaining to school choice.