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    Onderwijskrant Vlaanderen
    Vernieuwen: ja, maar in continuïteit!
    26-12-2016
    Klik hier om een link te hebben waarmee u dit artikel later terug kunt lezen.Prof Bulle over democratisering onderwijs en ongelijk van veel onderwijssociologen (ook Nicaise, Jacobs e.d.)

    Prof.-socioloog Nathalie Bulle over democratisering onderwijs en ongelijk van veel onderwijssociologen (ook Nicaise, Jacobs e.d.)

    (1) wel degelijk gevoelige democratisering secundair en hoger onderwijs; Bourdieu en neo-marxistische sociologen hebben ongelijk: de laagste sociale groepen hebben meer progressie gemaakt dan de andere

    (2) Maar hervormingen van de jaren 80-90 (invoering collège unique en lagere eisen) hebben de verdere democratisering niet bevorderd, maar eerder afgeremd.

    “Changes of the French educative system and inequality of opportunity issues: Going beyond preconceptions” in Gianluca (Ed.) Paradoxes, Mechanisms, Consequences: Bardwell Press, 2015, pp.21-40 - zie Internet of publicaties Bulle

    Conclusies:

    1.We were able to show that access to secondary education (in France) had been accompanied by a real reduction in the inequality of the selection process, and that this reduction had been fairly steady throughout the 20th century up to the enrollment in secondary education of a whole age group.

    2.In other words, we observed no threshold effect suggesting the inherent injustice of selective processes giving priority to children from advantaged social categories

    3.These results invalidate in particular the old neo-Marxist assumptions of a stabilization, or even a worsening of inequality in the selection process following the increased numbers of places in academic pathways.

    4. “Comparing education systems teaches us that the more the academic criteria for selection are visible, explicit and immediately intelligible, the greater the precision of forecasts, risks are therefore reduced, investment in studies appears to be more justified and, finally; the success of students from the working classes is greater.

    5. Maar: hervormingen van de jaren 80-90 (o.m. invoering van collège unique en lagere eisen) hebben democratisering NIET bevorderd, eerder integendeel.

    .We have shown, moreover, that the important educational and structural reforms of the1980s-90s, carried out in the name of democratization of the education system,( invoering van collège unique) involving a weakening of the curriculum’s academic requirements and the explicit norms of educational achievement,the explicit and structured character of the teaching, had no positive effect on inequality in the selection process for secondary education, and even reinforced it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When it comes to assessing school policies and interpreting observed trends, a major problem arises in sociology. In fact, the measurement of inequality of opportunities and its evolution over time is one of the most complex issues that sociology of education has to resolve. There are just as many ways of solving this problem as there are ways of conceiving of equality between social groups.

    Each measure of inequality supports an argument and is linked to a particular aspect of inequality. However, as far as the evaluation of democratization policies are concerned, once the problems posed by “quantitative” democratization (access to education) have been overcome to a large extent, we turn our attention to a new, very precise object. We wonder if the social groups which had the lowest level of access to education in the system’s previous state have progressed relatively better than the others.

    Concluding remarks

    Evaluating educational policies may often depend on being able to grasp the changes that affect the selection processes underlying inequality of educational opportunity. In this respect, it is important keep to a reference mark that retains a stable meaning with regard to the results of microsociological processes of selection, when overall access to the various educational levels under study varies.

    This is why we propose to interpret the effects of school policies in France by measuring inequality in the selection process. The method of measurement used here, which offers a solution to such issue and which is insensitive to margins, led to questioning some of the best known assessments previously argued with regard to generative mechanisms of inequality of educational opportunity in France.

    We were able to show that access to secondary education had been accompanied by a real reduction in the inequality of the selection process, and that this reduction had been fairly steady throughout the 20th century up to the enrollment in secondary education of a whole age group.

    In other words, we observed no threshold effect suggesting the inherent injustice of selective processes giving priority to children from advantaged social categories. Rather, we observed an increase in investment by all social groups in education, which confirms, at least on this point, the premises of the theory of modernization.

    We also showed that, unlike the results of analyses based on ad hoc indices, the expansion of higher education was accompanied by a weakening of inequality at selection revealing, as was the case for access to secondary education, a change in its role in the general economy of the French education system.

    These results invalidate in particular the old neo-Marxist assumptions of a
    stabilization, or even a worsening of inequality in the selection process following the increased numbers of places in academic pathways.

    These developments, which were allowed by the gradual integration of the education system - the different levels of primary, secondary and higher education being placed in logical continuity with one another - are correlated to the economic transformations that occurred throughout the 20th century and their impact on both the demand and the supply of education.

    These results corroborate the founding premises of L’inégalité des chances (Boudon 1972), by showing that the evolution of families’ situations of choice (higher economic levels and corresponding investment in school) has probably had a major impact on the weakening of inequality of opportunity in the selection process (here, for access to secondary and higher education).

    We have shown, moreover, that the important educational and structural reforms of the1980s-90s, carried out in the name of democratization of the education system and involving a weakening of the curriculum’s academic requirements and the explicit norms of educational achievement, had no positive effect on inequality in the selection process for secondary education, and even reinforced it. In this regard, we had to separate the cases of girls and boys from disadvantaged categories. The progress of the girls, through technological and professional baccalaureates in particular, appears to be a consequence of their increased investment in education. The tendency toward reinforced inequality in the selection process for boys regarding access to these same pathways could be the consequence of a decrease, between the two cohorts, in the relative educational achievement of the least successful population.

    These developments in the inequality of boys in the selection process for access to the major types of baccalaureates can be substantiated by theories and research based on a rational conception of the social actor. In the words of James Coleman (1990: 29), the relative intensity of the convergent school influences and the divergent out-of-school influences determines the effectiveness of the educational system in providing equality of educational opportunity.

    In fact, these theories and research reveal that convergent school influences increase when school develops clear selection processes, explicit norms of educational achievement and knowledge. These factors of educational achievement were revealed very early on by Cherkaoui (1972) using data from the International Project for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement in 1970-71.6

    “Comparing education systems teaches us that the more the academic criteria for selection are visible, explicit and immediately intelligible, the greater the precision of forecasts, risks are therefore reduced, investment in studies appears to be more justified and, finally; the success of students from the working classes is greater. Conversely, the more these rules are invisible, the greater the risks, the more important the phenomena of withdrawing pupils from disadvantaged classes and the lower their academic success.” (Cherkaoui 1979 : 202).

    The French system has tended to develop during the period separating the two cohorts in the direction of greater opacity of its operating standards, corresponding to educational transformations made in the name of success for all, which have led to a weakening of the academic requirements of educational
    programs, and the explicit and structured character of the teaching (Bulle 2009).

    Finally, we believe we have shown the importance of understanding the results of microsociological processes of selection on the basis of a simple model, such as the one that the measure used here is based on. It offers the advantage of overcoming preconceived ideas relating to the processes that underpin the democratization of education systems, often biased by evaluative and political presuppositions. In future, its use could support more reliable interpretations of the effects of school policies and, in so doing, truly enlighten the latter.



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