The Politics of Structural Education Reform  book cover
1st Edition

The Politics of Structural Education Reform

ISBN 9780415541954
Published February 24, 2012 by Routledge
250 Pages

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Book Description

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.

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

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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.


"…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