Timothy A. Hacsi, Children as Pawns: The Politics of Educational Reform.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. , 2002. $39.95 hardcover.
In recent times, education (and school level education in particular) has become a highly politicized topic. Beliefs about what type of schooling is the most effective are permeated with ideological preferences, and serious research into what interventions work best are often ignored as values derived from political, religious and other convictions increasingly govern decision making. Although political campaigns today are not exclusively focused on educational issues, it is rare for politicians to downplay down·play
tr.v. down·played, down·play·ing, down·plays
To minimize the significance of; play down: downplayed the bad news.
Verb 1. education. Issues such as school vouchers school vouchers, government grants aimed at improving education for the children of low-income families by providing school tuition that can be used at public or private schools. , class size, curriculum content, educational administration and related topics now form a prominent part of the electoral process.
However, as Timothy Hacsi demonstrates in this readable and engaging book, political statements about education are often uniformed, clouded with rhetoric and usually erroneous. While politicians blithley contend that this or that remedy will magically solve the problems facing schools today, few base their opinions on a serious assessment of the facts. In some cases, they allow ideological beliefs to override the facts but, in others, they are just ignorant of the facts. Consequently, sincere commitments to improve education and educational opportunities for children are mired mire
1. An area of wet, soggy, muddy ground; a bog.
2. Deep slimy soil or mud.
3. A disadvantageous or difficult condition or situation: the mire of poverty.
v. in incorrect knowledge, opinion, bias, ideology and tradition--all the things that modern science is supposed to dispel through careful and rigorous investigation.
Hacsi illustrates his argument by discussing five topics that are often raised in political debates about education. These are the role of preschool education preschool education: see kindergarten; nursery school.
Childhood education during the period from infancy to age five or six. Institutions for preschool education vary widely around the world, as do their names (e.g. (and particularly the Head Start program) in enhancing educational achievement; the effects of bilingual education bilingual education, the sanctioned use of more than one language in U.S. education. The Bilingual Education Act (1968), combined with a Supreme Court decision (1974) mandating help for students with limited English proficiency, requires instruction in the native ; the significance of class size; the issue of social promotion, and finally the question of whether the quality of schools can be improved through the allocation of additional resources. All have featured prominently in recent political debates on education. The book offers a lively overview of these issues showing that popular views on each of them are based on an astounding a·stound
tr.v. a·stound·ed, a·stound·ing, a·stounds
To astonish and bewilder. See Synonyms at surprise.
[From Middle English astoned, past participle of astonen, lack of scientific evidence. Despite their importance and prominence today, research findings into these issues is largely ignored. On the other hand, despite a huge volume of scientific research into these questions, much of the research is controversial and inconclusive INCONCLUSIVE. What does not put an end to a thing. Inconclusive presumptions are those which may be overcome by opposing proof; for example, the law presumes that he who possesses personal property is the owner of it, but evidence is allowed to contradict this presumption, and show who is . For example, Hacsi reports that a major GAO review of some 600 published research studies into Head Start found that only 22 could be considered reliable in terms of criteria that Hacsi describes as `... not very strict.' Not surprisingly, the GAO concluded that the evidence for Head Start's effectiveness did not permit final conclusions to be drawn.
Hacsi's book is not only directed at politicians, the media and others who declaim de·claim
v. de·claimed, de·claim·ing, de·claims
1. To deliver a formal recitation, especially as an exercise in rhetoric or elocution.
2. To speak loudly and vehemently; inveigh. on educational issues with apparent authority, but at the scientific community which has failed to agree criteria, standards and procedures for rigorous investigation. The ineffective way that findings are communicated, and the lack of routine replication designed to test research claims, also impede the development of policies based on scientific research. Hopefully Hacsi's excellent book will not only promote more rigorous research into educational issues but pave the way for the more systematic incorporation of research findings into the policy process.