What are the policies and politics of curriculum? (Questions (What role…
What are the policies and politics of curriculum?
Because education is essentially an informal branch of government (local and state), all curriculum policy matters are also political matters. However, not all curriculum decisions are made through the board of education. Curriculum, then, is oftentimes made without input by stakeholders or with media attention.
Though the state or a board of education may set policy and dictate curriculum, teachers can exercise autonomy within their classrooms on how this curriculum is interpreted and transferred to students. Curriculum may be a formal document or set of expectations, but that does not mean that is what is being learned in the classroom.
Past years as well as decades have had cases of conflicting views on certain curriculum (e.g., evolution, censorship of books). Recent years, at least within Illinois, have not had much contention in terms of curriculum. Curriculum and related policies have been put on hold while more pressing matters related to funding of schools and lack of budgets have taken center stage. Curriculum seems to only be a major concern among the public when other matters are not in contention or when individuals feel their ideals and morals are under attack or challenged by education.
In a diverse state such as Illinois, we find many communities that are rural but less than 100 miles away from Chicago, a metropolis with different resources and priorities. In relation to curriculum, this diversity in community types leads to unbalanced pushes for certain curriculum policies.
Administrative and pedagogical progressives have both been influential in a reform for better curriculum and accountability in U.S. schools for the past 100 years. However, the federal influence on such standards has increased throughout the recent decades with ESSA, NCLB, ESEA, etc.
The public misunderstands Common Core - it does not dictate how learning should occur but rather identifies the standards for learning.
Should our curriculum be designed by business leaders, corporate interests, policymakers, or other entities who tend to de-professionalize the career? Are their interests really in the well-being of the whole child or is their focus on the human capital and its use for future work settings?
How can teachers’ involvement in the federal and state levels of curriculum policy become more involved and actively share their voice?
What role should a Board of Education play in the development of curriculum? With their emphasis on governing at the local level, should they let teachers and administrators lead the process and focus on the governance aspects or should they play a more active role?
Some observed local Boards have ignored guidance of State in order to promote own values within curriculum
Do our current assessment requirements in the state actually align with our curriculum as well as the expectations for have for student outcomes?
Further, are we measuring the unintended curriculum as well?
Has the lack of results from intended curriculum driven much of the school reform initiatives we see from state and federal government in recent years?
To what extent do those impacting curriculum believe that whatever is taught is learned when in reality teaching does not necessarily mean learning?
Will there be a tipping point in which higher levels of government will not only dictate what we teach but also how we teach?
Curriculum is what students should know and be able to do. All stakeholders within a community have an investment in the outcomes of our education, and thereby, should have a voice in the outcomes of curriculum.
Curriculum is more than just textbook selection. There is a written, intended, and unintended curriculum within each classroom and learning environment.
State governments dictate education
Federal government influences policy through funding
State governments accept federal policy to ease State funding sources
Local Boards of Education accept Federal requirements through State to ease local taxes
Businesses and other groups with neoliberal ideals push for curriculum that is worker-oriented
"Real education is about genuine understanding and the ability to figure things out on your own; not about making sure every 7th grader has memorized all the facts some bureaucrats have put in the 7th grade curriculum." - Aaron Schwartz
"Instead of a national curriculum for education, what is really needed is an individual curriculum for every child." - Charles Handy
Pinar - "The Reconceptualization of Curriculum Studies"
Evolved as a response to the traditional approaches to curriculum.
Curriculum allows for the individual to make one's own political connections between learning and society.
Choice needs to be provided to students within their education.
A Nation At Risk contradicts with this theory.
Wiggins & McTighe - Understanding by Design