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Between public good and private interest: evaluating effects of parental choice of school in Taiwan

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Abstract:

In the Taiwanese education system, elementary school education and lower-level secondary education are compulsory and free for children from the age of 6 to 15. Recent statistics show that 97.6% of elementary and junior high schools are public, with only a very small number of private schools (2.4%) (Ministry of Education, 2011). Allocating students into public elementary and junior high schools rests on an administratively operated system of catchment areas. The system conducts geographic distributions of public schools to manage school enrollment and, more specifically, to ensure that students can attend nearby schools, according to rules laid out in the Constitution. This school system aspires to a model in which equal opportunities are created through equal funding for all schools and regulated enrolment. Such a public education system reflects the assumption that each public school provides the same quality of education as others. However, the new Fundamental Education Act of 1999 was introduced into the existing system. In this Act, parental choice of education is treated as a civil right. The Act incorporated choice as global rhetoric into existing school practice. Although in Taiwan choosing a school outside the catchment area is not uncommon and although the Fundamental Education Act legally ensures parents’ right to choose their children’s education, what are the compounding effects of such a new reform policy on local school practice? Who will benefit from such a new hybrid model? How will parents exercise their right to choose, and how will they involve themselves in school affairs?
Therefore, his study uses school choice policy as an example to demonstrate how local actors and local practices adopt, mediate, translate, and reformulate “choice” as neo-liberal rhetoric informing education reform, and to explore from the past decades how public values of schooling is in tandem with the private interests not only from the top-down policy discourse practice, but also from the bottom-up in which values of public education are embodied in different contexts of public junior high schools.
The study chooses two junior high schools as examples of parental choice, participation, and involvement in daily school life at the current conjuncture of global-local policy mixture. The research conducted from September 2010 to June 2012. I paid regular visits to each school and attended various school-wide and class-level activities, especially both school-wide and class-level PTA conferences held usually at the beginning of the spring and fall semesters. During my visits, I interviewed 3 homeroom teachers and 2 subject teachers in each school. I also interviewed class delegate parents in each chosen class. In addition, I interviewed heads of the school-wide PAs, school principals, heads of academic affairs (who are charged with coordinating curriculum and homeroom teachers’ and subject teachers’ allocations), and heads of student affairs in each school. I processed and thematically coded the ethnographic observations and in-depth interview data to illustrate the complex realities of school choice and parental involvement in the two schools.
The preliminary conclusions is that a new Act incorporated into a public system results in a hybrid school-choice model, which mixes a civil rights model and a market model. The effects of such a school-choice hybrid model on broader Taiwanese public education are that individual parents’ practice of school choice compounded with the neo-liberal rhetoric of education reform in Taiwan is rapidly exacerbating the great disparity among junior high public schools, and that school choice imbued with parental involvement and participation leads to heightened social competition and segregation rather than community management and improvement.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706841_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Mao, Chin-Ju. "Between public good and private interest: evaluating effects of parental choice of school in Taiwan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706841_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mao, C. , 2014-03-10 "Between public good and private interest: evaluating effects of parental choice of school in Taiwan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706841_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In the Taiwanese education system, elementary school education and lower-level secondary education are compulsory and free for children from the age of 6 to 15. Recent statistics show that 97.6% of elementary and junior high schools are public, with only a very small number of private schools (2.4%) (Ministry of Education, 2011). Allocating students into public elementary and junior high schools rests on an administratively operated system of catchment areas. The system conducts geographic distributions of public schools to manage school enrollment and, more specifically, to ensure that students can attend nearby schools, according to rules laid out in the Constitution. This school system aspires to a model in which equal opportunities are created through equal funding for all schools and regulated enrolment. Such a public education system reflects the assumption that each public school provides the same quality of education as others. However, the new Fundamental Education Act of 1999 was introduced into the existing system. In this Act, parental choice of education is treated as a civil right. The Act incorporated choice as global rhetoric into existing school practice. Although in Taiwan choosing a school outside the catchment area is not uncommon and although the Fundamental Education Act legally ensures parents’ right to choose their children’s education, what are the compounding effects of such a new reform policy on local school practice? Who will benefit from such a new hybrid model? How will parents exercise their right to choose, and how will they involve themselves in school affairs?
Therefore, his study uses school choice policy as an example to demonstrate how local actors and local practices adopt, mediate, translate, and reformulate “choice” as neo-liberal rhetoric informing education reform, and to explore from the past decades how public values of schooling is in tandem with the private interests not only from the top-down policy discourse practice, but also from the bottom-up in which values of public education are embodied in different contexts of public junior high schools.
The study chooses two junior high schools as examples of parental choice, participation, and involvement in daily school life at the current conjuncture of global-local policy mixture. The research conducted from September 2010 to June 2012. I paid regular visits to each school and attended various school-wide and class-level activities, especially both school-wide and class-level PTA conferences held usually at the beginning of the spring and fall semesters. During my visits, I interviewed 3 homeroom teachers and 2 subject teachers in each school. I also interviewed class delegate parents in each chosen class. In addition, I interviewed heads of the school-wide PAs, school principals, heads of academic affairs (who are charged with coordinating curriculum and homeroom teachers’ and subject teachers’ allocations), and heads of student affairs in each school. I processed and thematically coded the ethnographic observations and in-depth interview data to illustrate the complex realities of school choice and parental involvement in the two schools.
The preliminary conclusions is that a new Act incorporated into a public system results in a hybrid school-choice model, which mixes a civil rights model and a market model. The effects of such a school-choice hybrid model on broader Taiwanese public education are that individual parents’ practice of school choice compounded with the neo-liberal rhetoric of education reform in Taiwan is rapidly exacerbating the great disparity among junior high public schools, and that school choice imbued with parental involvement and participation leads to heightened social competition and segregation rather than community management and improvement.


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