23 SES 12 C, Education Policies and the Politics of Equity
This paper aims to analyze educational priority policies developed in Portugal in the past decades. While identifying its singularity within Europe underlies a growing convergence with priorities established for European education and training. This approach will focus on the following dimensions:
a) European Union governing forms and characteristics in relation to education and training in the first decades of the XXI century;
b) Evolution regarding conceptions and strategies of positive discrimination in Portugal (grounds, goals, target-publics and intervention strategies);
c) National and European logics of action and policy making processes in priority education.
From this perspective, we intend to bring light to the comprehension of Portuguese education policies’ specificities and convergences, namely in what concerns the topics of equity and priority education.
The analysis finds support in the literature on the Europeanization and globalization processes carried out in Portugal and in other European contexts, as well as on the transformations in education governing (Antunes, 2005; Ball, 1998, 2008; Lawn & Nóvoa, 2004, Teodoro , 2007 ) . In fact , in the past decade , the development of priority education policies in Portugal have been closely associated with the implementation of new forms of education governing: school autonomy contracts , goal-oriented school management, internal and external school assessment, and implication of education experts in the definition, implementation and evaluation of public policies.
The analytical focus concerns the impact of new political “orthodoxies” and “technologies” (Ball, 2008) in the fields of equity and social justice, considering that in a time when the appeal to other justices (entrepreneurial, commercial…) becomes more audible , school justice must also be questioned” (Estevão, 2011)
Moreover, European comparative studies in addition to the Portuguese research on the priority education policies (Bénabou, Kramarz & Prost, 2009; Canário , 2001; Demeuse, Frandji, Greger & Rochex, 2008; Dias, 2013 ; Power, Whitty ,Gewirtz, Halpin, Dickson, 2004, Lopes , 2012 ) are carefully considered. These studies, along with research studies on the Europeanisation of public policies (Antunes, 2005, Dias , 2008), suggest a growing detachment from the ideals of equity and participation., to the extent that priority is now given to the development of competitive economical systems and “social cohesion”.
The study shows the “hybrid” character of priority education policies implemented in Portugal since late XX century. In fact, there has been in our country both a confluence and tension between logics of education democratization, of education system modernization, and of goal adequacy with standards defined for education and training within Europe.
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