23 SES 10 A, Politics and Policy Making in Education
This study is part of the comparative project Who governs the Swedish school? (Roman et.al 2013, 2014), which started out in 2014 and is funded by the Swedish Research Council. Departing from a modified curriculum theory perspective, we explore the dynamics between local, national and transnational education policy from a historical point of view, mainly by studying local school policy actions in relation to school practice. The project aim is to compare over-time variations in balance between municipal and national school governing in a number of Swedish municipalities, thereby contributing to a more complex understanding of the concepts re/nationalization and municipalization, which generally are used quite hasty in the contemporary Swedish school debate (Jarl 2012, Hallsén et.al 2014). Our approach also provides historical and local context insights to the issues of decentralization and school marketization as well as globalization and transition. The Swedish comprehensive school reforms of the 1960s were promoted as a means to increase equality, i.e. decrease differences in educational opportunities between students (Hadenius, 1990). The comprehensive school reforms aimed to diminish differences due to gender, socio-economic and educational conditions, and geographical belonging (living in urban or rural areas). In the 1990s another reform bundle was launched, also purporting to promote increased equality but now through decentralization, which implied an opposite approach compared to the previous reforms, coined in the term equity replacing equality (Englund & Quennerstedt 2008).
Our study is relevant from a European perspective: it sheds new light on the Swedish school (often portrayed as nationally uniform) and highlights the local-national school policy interplay, which mirrors the international-national policy exchanges. Theoretically, it draws on the curriculum theory tradition developed by Dahllöf (1967, 1971), Lundgren (1977, 1979, 1984) and Englund (1986, 2005), focusing on the societal and political prerequisites for understanding education and educational change. It also relates to international research on decentralization and globalization (Ball et al 2007; Hopmann 2008; Grek et al 2009; Lundahl 2007). Combining the national gaze of the curriculum theory tradition with the global perspective on educational development constitutes an analytical framework where the historical comparison of local school policy in three Swedish municipalities is related to three arenas, the local, the national and the transnational. These arenas are understood as intertwined, constituting the societal and political context in which local policy makers has to navigate. Relating historical comparisons to different policy arenas thus enables a more complex analysis of school governing in the tension-field between centralization and decentralization, exceeding the simplified logic of implementation.
The comparisons comprises the following three Swedish municipalities: Stockholm (a large capital city with strong educational resources), Växjö (a middle town with fairly strong educational resources), and Tierp (a rural region with fairly weak educational resources).
The study includes five parts. 1) A theoretically informed introduction is followed by 2) a comparison of the starting points for the three municipalities in the late 1950s, in terms of general conditions (geography, demography, socio-economic and political conditions, level of education) and educational infrastructure (types and numbers of schools and other educational institutions).
Then two empirical themes are displayed:
3. Political actions, including national policy exchange and local administrative development
4. Educational efforts, including communication technology investments and transnational exchange
Finally (5) we analyze and discuss how the policy actions and education efforts have affected the general conditions and educational infrastructure of the three municipalities, i.e. the geographical distribution of educational opportunities (within each municipality and in comparison to one another)? This will be discussed as a matter of geographical justice, a concept intended to cover and analyze the different policy efforts taken to standardize and/or individualize Swedish education (equality/equity).
Ball, S.J., Goodson, I., & Maguire, M. (Eds.). (2007). Education, globalisation, and new times. Oxon: Routledge. Dahllöf, U. (1967). Skoldifferentiering och undervisningsförlopp: Komparativa mål-och processanalyser av skolsystem [School differentiation and teachin processes: comparative goal- and process analyses of school systems]. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. - (1971). Svensk utbildningsplanering under 25 år: argument, beslutsunderlag och modeller för utvärdering [Swedish education planning during 25 years: arguments, basis of decision making and models for evaluation]. Lund: Studentlitteratur. Englund, T. (1986). Curriculum as a political problem: Changing educational conceptions, with special reference to citizenship education (Dissertation). Uppsala University, Sweden. - (2005). Läroplanens och skolkunskapens politiska dimension [The political dimension of curriculum and school knowledge]. Göteborg: Daidalos. Englund, T. & Quennerstedt, A. (red.) (2008). Vadå likvärdighet?: studier i utbildningspolitisk språkanvändning. Göteborg: Daidalos Grek, S., Lawn, M., Lingard, B., Ozga, J., Rinne, R., Segerholm, C., & Simola, H. (2009). National policy brokering and the construction of the European Education Space in England, Sweden, Finland and Scotland. Comparative Education, 45(1), 5 - 21. Hadenius, K. (1990). Jämlikhet och frihet: politiska mål för den svenska grundskolan [Equality and liberty: political purposes of the Swedish compulsory school]. Diss. Uppsala : Univ.. Uppsala. Hallsén, S., Ringarp, J. Román, H., & Nordin, A., (2014). Skolans villkor som kommunal angelägenhet under 60 år. In Vägval i skolans historia (3-4/2014), Föreningen för svensk undervisningshistoria. Hopmann, S.T. (2008). No child, no school, no state left behind: Schooling in the age of accountability. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(4), 417-456. Lundahl, L. (2007). Swedish, European, global: The transformation of the Swedish welfare state. In B. Lingard & J. Ozga (Eds.), The RoutledgeFalmer reader in education policy and politics (pp. 117 -130). Oxon: Routledge. Lundgren, U.P. (1977). Model analysis of pedagogical processes. Lund: LiberLäromedel/Gleerup. - (1979) Att organisera omvärlden: En introduktion till läroplansteori [To organize the world. An introduction to curriculum theory]. Stockholm: LiberFörlag. - (1984). Between hope and happening: Text and context in curriculum. Victoria: Deakin University. Jarl, Maria (2012). Skolan och det kommunala huvudmannaskapet, Malmö, Gleerups. Román, H., Hallsén, S., Nordin, A., & Ringarp, J. (2015). Who governs the Swedish school? Local school policy research from a historical and transnational curriculum theory perspective. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy 1(1), 81-94. - (2014). Who governs the Swedish school? Municipality, school and state during 60 years of Swedish school reforms in a world of change. Project application to the Swedish Research Council [Vetenskapsrådet]. Vetenskapsrådet: Stockholm.
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