The Politics of Structural Education Reform: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Politics of Structural Education Reform

1st Edition

By Keith A. Nitta


236 pages

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Education policymaking is traditionally seen as a domestic political process. The job of deciding where students will be educated, what they will be taught, who will teach them, and how it will be paid for clearly rests with some mix of district, state, and national policymakers. This book seeks to show how global trends have produced similar changes to very different educational systems in the United States and Japan. Despite different historical development, social norms, and institutional structures, the U.S. and Japanese education systems have been restructured over the past dozen years, not just incrementally but in ways that have transformed traditional power arrangements. Based on 124 interviews, this book examines two restructuring episodes in U.S. education and two restructuring episodes in Japanese education. The four episodes reveal a similar politics of structural education reform that is driven by symbolic action and bureaucratic turf wars, which has ultimately hindered educational improvement in both countries.


"…a timely addition to the English-language corpus on education in contemporary Japan. As the title suggests, it simultaneously builds upon and transcends the aforementioned works that preceded it."--Mark Lincicome, Journal of Japanese Studies, 35:2 (2009)

"Niita’s well-written, important, and sound analysis—thick with minute details of national and bureaucratic political maneuvering—can be read not simply as an account of recent policy developments in America and Japan but as commentary on debates, challenges, and puzzles central to much of comparative education."--Jeremy Rappleye, Comparative Education Review (May 2009), 304-307

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Traditional U.S. and Japanese Education Policymaking 3. Explaining Policy Change in the U.S. and Japan 4. Winning with Moderate Structural Reform: Goals 2000 and the Improving America’s Schools Act 5. Institutionalizing Structural Education Reform: The No Child Left Behind Act 6. Structural Reform Invades Japanese Education: The Program for Education Reform 7. The Japanese Structural Education Reform Boom: The Trinity Reform and Education Rebuilding Council 8. The Politics of Structural Education Reform in Other Contexts 9. Conclusion. Appendix: List of Interviews

About the Author

Keith A. Nitta is an Assistant Professor at the Clinton School of Public Service, University of Arkansas. He was a Coro Fellow, a JET Program teacher and California Legislature staff, and has published articles on U.S.-Japanese politics and organization theory.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education

This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General