U.S. education

Steve.Swidler (21600SS@MSU.BITNET)
Wed, 13 Apr 1994 11:04:00 EDT

The answer to your Japan query is rather simple. The Cold War is over. We no
longer have an ideological or economic threat from the Soviet Union. Our
economy is in decline and we have just come off of Reagan-Bush and have a
Republican in liberal clothing. The school system has always been a punching
bag for social and economic decline. Equity and democracy are not serious
parts of any of the recent school reform movements (take a gander at Goals
2000 for example). And when they are, they are always accompanied by economic
arguments (market, that is, which always overpower and undermine democratic
ones). The reforms all adopt, overtly or covertly, economic rhetoric for
school improvement. The big bad Japanese are wonderful foils to this end. Not
only are they Other, they do school better than us (so the apolitcal
researchers say, using objective assessments in comparative education). This
is one place that anthropologist can speak up about the de-culturalized
comparisons of our educational systems.