Friday, August 2, 2013

Final Paper!!!

GROUP QUESTION
How well do the educational systems of Spain, Germany, and the United States address the needs of a multi-cultural and diverse classroom?
ABSTRACT
Our group’s interest lies in uncovering the reasons why certain groups of students are treated differently both within and across school systems.  We are also interested in finding out how discrimination across different modes of education affects pupils’ development and progression into later stages of life.  In an increasingly globalized and diverse world, countries have to deal with a wider variety of students.  Different schools, teachers, and societies have reacted in different ways, which have differential effects on each type of student.  Each one of us will investigate four different areas of interest relating to education: different teaching styles, differential treatment in special education programs, the effectiveness of immigration support programs, and the impact of discrimination based on gender and sexuality.  Then, we will all come together and compare and contrast varying degrees of disparities in education among Germany, Spain, and the United States.
Octavio will study how teachers are trained in each country.  He will specifically point our advantages and disadvantages to each type of teacher training and relate them back to their effect on students. He will see which teaching styles are the most effective at creating equal opportunity for all students.
Ileanna will study how education systems in different countries handle children who have autism.  Having worked with students with autism before, Ileanna hopes to discover the strengths and weaknesses of each country’s programs for autism.  She wants to know which countries are most effective at leveling the playing field and how they came to do so.
Roxana will study how governments and civil society help immigrant students integrate into society at large.  She will evaluate the depth and breadth of programs aimed to help immigrants adjust to life in a new country.  She will see what is effective and what is not in order to determine what the ideal way to bring education closer to its intended meritocracy.
Mitchell will study LGBTQ discrimination within school systems across Germany, Spain, and the United States.  He will see what policies are most effective in helping LGBTQ youth achieve full integration into larger society.  He will look at the roots in homophobia, how it affects LGBTQ youth, and how education systems can best address the situation to ensure that LGBTQ youth have the opportunity to take full advantage of the education system.
BACKGROUND
            Beginning with the Ancient Greeks, education has served as a way to teach students the values of society. It has primarily functioned as a meritocracy, measuring student’s intellectual ability and then rewarding those that did well. Ideally, each student would have an equal opportunity to succeed. Today, many education systems function in the same way, supporting the intellectually gifted. However, success is not equally attainable for all students. The barriers and opportunities available depend on the policies and culture of each country.
In the United States, the education system varies by state. The path of education advances from primary to secondary school and then to college or vocational school. Curriculum is organized by the state and the federal government as well as the state governments’ organized standardized tests.
            Spain has a similar system where students advance through the same stages (primary, secondary, etc.). However, after the age of 16, only successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for them to continue on to university. This has resulted in Spain having double the mean of the EU’s dropout rate (Simon). Furthermore, students are not assessed through standardized tests (Simon).
The educational system varies throughout Germany because each state implements its own educational policies; the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten education is provided for all children between two and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory. The German school system is free and compulsory until 9th grade. After the Grundschule (primary school from the ages 6- 10), teachers recommend each student for one of three different types of secondary education. Parents have the final decision about which school their child will attend.
Hauptschule is designed for students going into trades such as construction. This is completed after 9th or 10th grade (ages 14 to 16). During apprenticeships, students then attend Berufsschule, a dual-education vocational high school. The Hauptschule has been subject to significant criticism, as it tends to segregate the children of immigrants with schoolmates whose German is also poor, leading to a cycle of poverty.
Realschule is designed for students who want to apprentice for white-collar jobs not requiring university studies, such as banking; complete after 10th grade (age 15 to 16). Those who change their minds and decide to attend university can proceed after testing to Gymnasium. Some areas of Germany combine Realschule and Hauptschule under one organizational and educational umbrella.
Gymnasium is an academic preparatory school for pupils planning to attend universities or polytechnics. Some offer a classical education (Latin, Greek), while others concentrate on economics. The curriculum leading to the Abitur degree was recently reduced from 13th grade to 12th grade (ages 17 to 18 - "G8," eight years of Gymnasium). In order to attend Gymnasium, students must obtain a letter of recommendation from their previous teachers.
The Gesamtschule, a mixed ability school, puts all pupils in a single building, combining the three main types; these are still quite rare.
Students with special needs are assigned to Förderschule. These are partially integrated with non-handicapped students and they vary depending on the type of disability (Bonn 2012). In the system, there are many more types of specialized schools for vocational, teacher and academic training.
            After intense written and oral examinations, students can attend university. While there, they work towards a Bachelor’s Degree and some continue to a Master’s or a PhD. After this, students enter the job market.

INDIVIDUAL QUESTION
How do organizations, in conjunction with the government and society, support immigrant education?

INDIVIDUAL BACKGROUND
            In the wake of globalization, people and cultures have dispersed all over the world. After the formation of EU and the establishment of a strong European economy, migrants flowed into Western Europe from Africa, Asia, and, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe. Consequently, this changed the demographics for many countries and created new challenges. One of the main challenges that these countries face is fostering educational achievement. With an increasingly diverse classroom, governments struggle to fit the needs of its students. Obstacles include not only differences in culture and language but also racial and religious stigmas that have developed over time. The complexity of addressing such an issue has been approached by theorists in many different ways.
            One such theorist is Paulo Freire. As critical educator of the 20th century, he worked on a successful literacy campaign in Brazil and developed critical pedagogy. This pedagogy, however, was not a method or technique of teaching but rather a political and moral practice that encouraged the educator to think about the purpose of education in a different way. Freire rejected the use of education as a way to meet market demands through instrumentalized knowledge. Instead, he saw it as a way to strengthen imagination and work towards a more politically and socially just world. Freire believed that education should not be teaching for a test but rather the pursuit of critical thinking and the teaching of freedom and social responsibility. When he was teaching students in Brazil to read, he was not educating “as not a means to prepare students for the world of subordinated labor or "careers," but [as] a preparation for a self-managed life” (Giroux 2013). Freire’s success in Brazil suggests that critical pedagogy may help educators address the needs of a multicultural classroom.
            John Ogbu analyzes minority education by categorizing immigrants into three groups. Autonomous minorities, such as Jews and Mormons, are only numerical minorities and are not subject to stratification. Immigrant minorities have migrated in the belief that their lives would improve economically and socially in their destination countries. Lastly, involuntary/castelike minorities do not choose to become part of a society but are forced to through colonization, slavery or other methods (Ogbu 1990). I will be focusing on the immigrant minorities as they are the largest and most complex group of the three. In the United States, their relationship with the educational system is unique. Theoretically speaking, the performance of immigrant minorities is dependent on the expectations they have when they move to the United States. Many see their socioeconomic and political problems as temporary barriers that can be overcome by hard work and education. Thus, many believe that immigrants in the United States do better than expected in school.
            Recent studies, however, show that socioeconomic status and family education have much larger effects on educational performance. In the past fifty years, income inequality has increased worldwide, and with it, so has the achievement gap (Reardon 2011). The gap is 30 to 40 percent larger for children born in 2001 than it is for those born 25 years earlier (Reardon 2011). Given that most immigrants move to begin a better life, some from less educated backgrounds, their low socioeconomic status upon entering the country makes them more likely to fall behind. These factors also put migrant students at risk of dropping out or failing (“Integrating Immigrant Children” 2004).
            Another critical factor that affects immigrant education is the country’s history. After the end of the Second World War, Germany struggled with nationalism and the idea of a national identity. As its economy grew, immigrants, particularly from Turkey, flowed into the country. These migrants were not concerned with integration as they saw their stay in Germany as temporary (Elger 2013). However, many ended up staying, forcing the German identity to move towards a more European one (Heide). With an educational system that was passed down from the Prussians, Germany has been trying to provide opportunities to immigrants through a variety of organizations (Isensee). These are usually private and afterschool (Young Teacher). One of the main areas in Berlin that requires such attention is Neukölln. There, over 80% of youth under 18 years old are immigrants (Simon). In the past period, about 10 million euros of combined EU and federal and local German government funds have been spent on supporting projects geared towards integration (Simon).
            The situation in Spain, however, is slightly different, primarily due to the economic crisis in 2008. During the first decade of the 21st century, Spain experienced one of the largest immigration influxes on record (Arango 2013). The dispersion of immigrants was uneven with the South receiving primarily African immigrants from Morocco and the North receiving fewer and richer immigrants from Latin America (Arango 2013). Most natives saw them through the lens of the labor market: people that provide services and goods. However, the crisis, leaving millions of Spaniards unemployed, has been causing anti-immigrant sentiment to increase (Arango 2013). This can be seen in a recent law that prevents immigrants without papers to access healthcare (Sierra Pambley Teacher). Despite these setbacks, the EU is making a concerted effort to ensure basic education to every child by the year 2030 (European Union).

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
            Throughout my project, I used interviews, group lectures, government statistics, and peer-reviewed papers to research my topic. Often times, my external findings would spark questions for interviews while group lectures would present new information for me to look into. I would try to interview a variety of people (artists, educators, students, etc.) in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the topic. After talking with a few people, I would compare their perspectives and opinions with the governments’. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the time, the two coincided; however, this may be due to the fact that most of my interviewees were intellectuals. However, their extensive knowledge contributed results with great depth and quality.
            Though these methods provided a lot to work with, there were certain drawbacks. Since we visited during the summer, school was not in session. This made it more difficult to find teachers and especially students to talk to. Ideally, I would have wanted to interview at least one migrant student, but I was unable to do so. Another obvious drawback is my limited sample size which is subject to bias since it was not from a variety of socioeconomic, religious and ethnic backgrounds. If I had more time to continue this project, I would try to alleviate these drawbacks as much as possible.

FINDINGS
            Though past research has argued that immigrant students in the U.S. fare better than or similarly to the natives, my findings show a different perspective. One of the most important factors that affect how much a U.S. migrant student can get out of the education system is the age at which they migrate (Ruiz-de-Velasco and Fix 2000). Many students that arrive as teens have large gaps in literacy skills as well as other proficiencies due to interrupted schooling in their home countries (Ruiz-de-Velasco and Fix 2000). This is often combined with the larger obstacle these students face: the language. Not only are most teachers unequipped to work with ELL (English Language Learner) students, but the teaching method of language first and content second is also ineffective (Ruiz-de-Velasco and Fix 2000). An education where the two were taught simultaneously would benefit immigrant students most. Currently, the system segregates the students into separate classes based on their language skills, but they have also been separating themselves where some schools have disproportionately more migrants than others. This has led to uneven distribution of immigrant students, limiting resources for this high need group.
In Germany and Spain, analyses of the results of the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test reveal similar problems. As Table 1 shows, both Germany and Spain have high percentages of immigrant students, 25% and 15% respectively. Unlike Spain, which has a more even distribution, Germany’s immigrant population is primarily made up of second-generation students that speak the test language (German) at home (Table 1). Furthermore, the PISA results of the two countries differ. In both countries, immigrant students do not do as well on the standardized test as the native ones do (Table 2). One would expect that second-generation students that speak the test-language at home would perform comparably to native-born students, but this is only the case in Spain. Though there is a slight improvement between generations for both countries, Germany’s students still lag behind by a significant amount. This suggests that migrant parents may access and interact with schools in a different manner than native-born parents do (Cobb-Clark et. al 2013).
            In an interview with Cordula Simon, from the Head of European Affairs Office Program on Immigration in Neukölln, I got a better insight into the immigrant communities in Berlin. Even though students are taught to be mediators, tensions are still strong between different ethnic groups. Furthermore, many parents are cut off from interacting with the school due to language and cultural barriers. Migrant parents not only struggle with reading school pamphlets, but they also fear sending their children to school due to past kidnappings. The education system also has trouble reaching the students. Some communities are not interested in certain jobs or subjects. For example, the Roma were metalworkers traditionally, making careers like economist or market specialist uninteresting and culturally obsolete.
            However, the government has been hard at work supporting and funding NGO projects in the region. These projects “make young people fit for life” (Simon). They vary from offering extra Turkish language classes to placing teachers that speak the students’ languages in the schools. As Ms. Simon put it, “A good project is based on the needs of the pupils or the school or the neighbourhood.” These characteristics, along with a good reputation and a well-organized plan, get these projects approved. Parents and other citizens of the Neukölln community can voice their opinions through a committee that is directly elected by the people (Simon). These committees work closely with social workers and schools to make their opinions heard.
            A closer look at the whole of Germany shows a different perspective. Unlike immigrant populations from Italy, Spain and other southern European countries, the Turkish communities are very poorly integrated. They are still “worse educated, worse paid and have a higher rate of unemployment” than other Germans (Elger 2013). Some argue that the Turkish community needs to make more of an effort to integrate. However, xenophobia and religion push them out of the larger German society. Though not all Islamic Turkish immigrants listen to fundamentalist imams, those that do limit female students’ participation in the school curriculum. Recently, the situation has been improving slowly as the number of Turkish girls in Gymnasium has been increasing, surpassing the percentage of Turkish boys (Elger 2013).
            According to a newly graduated teacher, the structure of the education system still struggles to meet the needs of immigrant students. After navigating through the bureaucracy of paying for school without much counseling help, he began to realize that his many years of schooling did not completely prepare him for a real classroom. Many immigrant students are deficit in language and reading skills as well as general self-confidence. The pedagogy taught in teacher-training, if any at all, does not give new teachers enough information on how to deal with such students. And regardless of student performance, teachers have such high job security that they are neither motivated nor encouraged to improve their pedagogy.
            However, the education gap between immigrant and native students arises not only from how they are taught but what they are taught. One example of this is the Holocaust. Some non-German students feel as if the history of the Holocaust is irrelevant to them (Georgi 2013). They feel as if their own personal histories, such as histories of migration, are unfairly overlooked by the system (Georgi 2013). This causes both educational and social gaps as migrant students lose interest in school and segregate themselves from their native German peers. In certain institutions that target immigrant students, such as one in Neukölln called Neukölln-Aktiv, social workers and teachers have trouble reaching out to their pupils. The students struggle with the strict structure and often feel as if what they are learning is not useful (Neukölln-Aktiv 2012).
In Spain, the problems immigrants face are slightly different. The biggest barrier of them all is language. Often times, students not only have to become fluent in Spanish but also the local dialect (Valencian, Catalan, Gallego, etc.) in order to be successful. A young German teacher from the Leon Language Center has noticed the recent explosion in language learning. The most popular languages include English, German and Spanish. This is a direct product of the recent crisis, as the majority of unemployed graduates leave the country in search of work. Learning so many new languages does not come easy for all students, though. Throughout her time teaching, she has noticed that struggling students, usually migrant ones, are often excluded by their peers (Madrid Teacher).
Exclusion and segregation are issues in many Spanish institutions and programs aimed at helping migrant students integrate. In Madrid, Villababel High School utilizes language as a criterion for organizing students in different classrooms. Students are separated into two language programs: 1) the Spanish Immersion Program for Newcomers, Aula de Enlaces (AE), which is designed for students that do not know Spanish; or 2) the Spanish-English Bilingual Program, Programa Bilingüe (PB), which teaches English to Spanish-speaking students. Although these programs are meant to promote social inclusion, they in fact do just the opposite (Mijares and Pastor 2011). The PB separates the students into “good” and “bad” by using mastery of both Spanish and English as capital in the classroom. In the AE, immigrant students are segregated from their peers by not providing them with the appropriate content to help them transition into mainstream classrooms, forcing them to remain in the program longer than needed. Since the program defines “bilingualism” only with respect to English, they are also discouraged from speaking any languages other than Spanish in the classroom (Mijares and Pastor 2011).
In Spain, these students must also face a unique obstacle: the economic crisis. The majority of students attend public institutions where large budget cuts have removed assistant teachers and increased classroom sizes (Madrid Teacher). Furthermore, fees for university have been increasing as grants for low-income students have decreased, forcing students to attend school and work simultaneously. With cuts on these important resources, migrant students are slowly being left behind.
Despite Spain’s previous immigrant-friendly policies, the government continues to pass education reforms that push these students even farther back. In an attempt to improve PISA test scores, Education Minister José Ignacio Wert proposed new education reforms to streamline the curriculum to core classes with the possibility of eliminating art and music altogether (“Spanish Education Reforms” 2012). There would also be more frequent examination, designed to distinguish only worthy candidates for continued education (“Spanish Education Reforms” 2012). However, other countries show that a more elitist system does not guarantee better results. In the end, these reforms will only make a complete education more unattainable for migrant students.
There are, however, private institutions that are working to help them integrate. One example is Sierra Pambley, a privately run organization in Leon, that offers free classes on the Spanish language, writing, computer skills and waitressing skills (Sierra Pambley Teacher). These students get one on one help from teachers on integrating into society and finding work, which can prove difficult in the biased labor market. As one of the teachers put it, “If you are from Africa you only have access to some kind of jobs like construction or waiter” (Sierra Pambley Teacher). Despite this, the staff works hard to prepare their students and overcome their biggest barrier: the language. “I think the biggest obstacle is language because I've seen students with great skills in maths or sciences who have problems with some subjects only because they don't have good level of Spanish,” said a teacher (Sierra Pambley Teacher). The majority of students are from Morocco and Africa though some native Spaniards take advantage of these classes as well. In this mixed environment, the teachers also work to break down cultural and religious barriers and give immigrants a fair chance at a good education.

INDIVIDUAL CONCLUSION
            In Germany, the country as a whole appears to be moving forward on improving immigrant education. Turkish is now being taught at certain schools and can officially count as one of the two languages a high school student can graduate with (Simon). This allows migrant students, especially those that arrive later, to be integrated into the school system much more quickly. It also shows that Germany is making deliberate strides towards a more globalized identity. Young educators are becoming more and more aware of the injustices in the education system and want to see a change. One teacher even suggested that this topic might be up for debate in the coming election.
            Despite these movements forward, Germany still has a long way to go before claiming to have true integration. Discrimination against foreigners is still strong and migrants struggle in all parts of society. Though there are many organizations and passionate government employees that are working hard to help immigrants, the larger majority of Germans still see their country as “us” and “them.” The Turkish communities do the same. In order for Germany to move forward, more needs to be done to educate citizens on building a more socially just society. Adopting some of Freire’s techniques of critical pedagogy in schools could have vast implications for the futures of immigrant students.
            In Spain, the economic crisis has led to a dearth in resources, causing the country to shift backwards on their immigrant policies. As the government struggles to provide for its citizens, anti-immigrant sentiments are stirred up, and policies discriminating between native and immigrants become more common. Most recently, a new policy passed that does not allow migrants without papers to access healthcare (Sierra Pambley Teacher). This has an indirect effect on their schooling as it distracts from their education and limits their upward mobility.
Most of all, the educational system needs serious revamping. At the moment, it is set up in a way that goes against everything that critical pedagogy upholds. A British parent in Madrid said, “It was desks right from the start (age 2)… I just don’t understand the idea of getting so academic at such a young age” (“Spanish Education Reforms” Mears 2012). This kind of education that promotes regurgitation of facts does not give students enough time and practice developing social and critical thinking skills. Thus, their perceptions of the world are more likely to be molded by the media or their peers. Like in Germany, educational reforms that change the way students and other citizens view the world around them are necessary in order to improve the situations of immigrants in Spain.
As Trevor Philips, the Head of the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality, stated, “There can be no true equality without integration and … no true integration without equality” (qtd. in “Spain Still Wrestles” Mears 2013). My research has shown me that despite the many cultural and linguistic differences that define Germany, Spain and the United States, all three countries still have much to improve with regard to immigrant education. The question that remains is how will they do so? Are there certain policies that work only in some countries or is there only one way to improve the situation, such as implementing critical pedagogy? How will the situation change as each country becomes more and more globalized? These questions are all interesting and important questions to explore in the future.

GROUP CONCLUSION
We, as a group, have determined that education is absolutely, unequivocally not a meritocracy.  Well, at least, not in its current state.  Octavio discovered that teachers in Germany and Spain are educated to teach their material, not to create diverse classrooms.  While the United States fares better in this department, it is still relatively week.  This type of environment does not allow multi-ethnic kids, or even students with different cultural views, to take full advantage of the education system.  Multi-ethnic students won’t feel safe unless teachers take measures to promote classroom cooperation.  Unfortunately, that goal is far from reality.
            Ileanna researched whether or not schools had systems in place to support kids with autism.  It turns out that neither Germany nor Spain has adequate resources for these students.  Kids with autism are grouped with other kids who have mental disabilities.  Oftentimes, there aren’t even schools or special classrooms for these students.  They are integrated into regular classrooms and asked to play while the teacher addresses his/her class.  Although the United States has admirable policies toward children with autism, budget cuts have made support increasingly hard to find.  In all three countries, children with autism have a distinct disadvantage in the school system.  They are not supported as they should be and as such, they are not able to receive a quality education.
            Roxana focused on support systems for immigrant students.  She found that there were inadequate resources for immigrant students.  The governments do not allocate very much money to help immigrants assimilate and as a result, they are put at a disadvantage.  They do not know the language or culture and have had to start their lives without a strong foundation.  The sparse services provided to them only begin to cover what they need to fully integrate into society.
            Mitchell focused on LGBTQ discrimination in education.  He found that LGBTQ students are indeed discriminated against in schools and that the education systems were inadequate when dealing with harassment.  Homophobia causes a disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth to drop out of school, think about suicide, perform worse in school, and feel unsafe.  In addition, they don’t have proper social support systems to help them through tumultuous times.  This, in turn, does not allow LGBTQ students to realize their full potential.  They cannot take advantage of the education system if they are constantly living in fear of their peers.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
            Before beginning this project, I had been volunteering with the Dream Project at the University of Washington for about two years. Every week, I would work with low-income high school students on college applications, resumes and even homework. Throughout the years, I learned more and more about the struggles that these students faced when pursuing their education. I became curious about whether students in other countries faced these same problems and decided to answer my questions by continuing this informal research in Germany and in Spain. As an immigrant, this question was very important to me. Unlike other children, my parents pushed me hard to excel in school. However, I soon came to realize that not everyone’s parents did the same, and I wanted to know, would I, and others like me, have been able to succeed without my family’s support? This question is truly applicable to everyone, but those that are most likely to answer negatively are the minorities, the immigrants.
            While researching my project, I found my biases harder to overcome than I had previously thought. Having grown up in both Europe and the United States, I had always seen Europe through rose-colored glasses. In my eyes, they were much more globally aware than the United States and I expected to find the conditions for immigrants to be better. I was very surprised to find that across the Atlantic Ocean, the same problems were prevalent. This experience made me hyper-aware of how much more I have to learn about the world around me.
            After talking with a variety of people in both Germany and Spain, I have also become more aware of how others see me. Though I don’t primarily identify as an American, it is what strangers quickly label me as. I am sure that if I didn’t say anything, including my name, most people would not recognize me as foreign in the United States. Therefore, I feel as if I have been fortunate enough not to have experienced the discrimination that many of the immigrants I have been studying have. Throughout this project, I have tried to envision the situations that others have described to me; the poverty, segregation, bullying. Others have not done the same, though, and I see this lack of compassion in every day citizens. This project has been an amazing, eye-opening experience that has improved my social awareness and allowed me to grow as an individual and student in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.

FIGURES
 
Table 1. The distribution of the population of each country by language and origin (Cobb-Clark et. al 2013).
Table 2. The results of the PISA test organized by the nativity, country and language of the students.


References

Arango, Joaquín. 2013. Exceptional in Europe? Spain’s Experience with Immigration and Integration. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.
"Aulas De Enlace Del Área Territorial De Madrid-Capital." Aulas De Enlace Del Área Territorial De Madrid-Capital De La Consejería De Educación De La Comunidad De Madrid. Consejeria De Educacion, Juventud Y Deporte, n.d. Web. 25 July 2013. <http://www.madrid.org/dat_capital/bienvenida/ae.htm>.
Bonn. "Basic Structure of the Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany." The Education System in the Federal Republic of Germany. Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Jan. 2012. Web. 24 July 2013.
Cobb-Clark, D. A., M. Sinning, and S. Stillman. “Migrant Youths' Educational Achievement: The Role of Institutions.”ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 643.1 (2012): 18-45. 4 July 2013. <doi:10.1177/0002716212440786>.
Elger, Katrin, Ansbert Kneip, and Merlind Theile. "Immigration: Survey Shows Alarming Lack of Integration in Germany." SPIEGEL ONLINE. Spiegel, 26 Jan. 2009. Web. 25 July 2013.
European Union. European Commission. EU Commits to Ensuring Basic Education for Every Child by 2030. Europa. N.p., 23 May 2013. Web. 5 July 2013.
Georgi, Viola B., Dr. "Multiculturalism and the Politics of Memory Culture in Germany’s Education System." Humboldt University, Berlin. 28 June 2013. Lecture.
Giroux, Henry A. "Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy." TruthOut. TruthOut, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 24 July 2013.
Heide, Marcus, Dr. "Introduction to German History." Humboldt University, Berlin. 25 June 2013. Lecture.
Integrating immigrant children into schools in Europe. Brussels: Eurydice, European Unit, 2004. Print.
Isensee, Reinhard. "German Education: A Transatlantic Perspective." Humboldt University, Berlin. 28 June 2013. Lecture.
Laura Mijares & Ana M. Relao Pastor (2011) Language programs at Villababel High: rethinking ideologies of social inclusion, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 14:4, 427-442, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2011.573066
Madrid Teacher. Fundacion Internacional Baltasar Garzon, Madrid. 9 July 2013. Lecture.
Mears, Olwen. "Spain Still Wrestles with Immigration." Iberosphere. N.p., 29 May 2013. Web. 25 July 2013.
Mears, Olwen. "Spanish Education Reforms…in the Wrong Direction." Iberosphere. N.p., 12 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 Aug. 2013.
Neukoelln-Aktiv. Dir. Sabine Herpich and Gregor Stadlober. HFF "Konrad Wolf" Potsdam-Babelsberg, 2012. DVD.
Ogbu, John U. "Minority Education in Comparative Perspective." The Journal of Negro Education 59.1 (1990): 45-57. Web.
Reardon, Sean F. "The Widening Academic AchievementGap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations." Whither Opportunity?Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. N.p.: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011. N. pag. July 2011. Web. 15 July 2013.
Ruiz-de-Velasco, Jorge, and Michael Fix. "Overlooked and Underserved: Immigrant Students in U.S. Secondary Schools." Urban Institute, 1 Dec. 2000. Web. 26 July 2013.
Sierra Pambley Teacher. E-mail interview. 17 July 2013.
Simon, Cordula. Personal interview. 4 July 2013.
Simon, Maria L.S. "The Story on Current Education Reforms in Spain: The past Will Come Back." Web log post. Education in Crisis. N.p., 21 Feb. 2013. Web.

Young Teacher. Personal interview. 1 July 2013. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Impromptu Interviews

Our assignment was to interview three people of varying age groups about our topics. Though starting a conversation about immigrants and the educational system in Spain is not the simplest of tasks, it was a great experience to leave our comfort bubble and try something new! My reward for this was some great interviews!

Interview #1

My first interview was with a recent graduate that was teaching German at the Leon Language Center. Though she is not native to Spain, she did have a few insights into the education system. She said that there was a large increase in students learning new language a year or so ago. This is why they hired her, even though she actually holds a degree in International Business. The most popular languages are German and English, with Chinese on the rise. Unfortunately, the school is primarily used by native Spanish locals so she was unable to give me much information on the status of immigrant students. However, she did notice that students that were slower at learning the material or were different in any way were excluded by their peers. I would imagine that immigrant students would be much more likely to experience this. She added that the school is very expensive, which also excludes many immigrants.

Interview #2

 For my second interview, I talked with Maria, a career counselor of sorts at the University of Leon. She gave me a different side of immigrant education in Spain. Her job at the university is to help prepare students for their future careers by editing resumes, writing CVs, and finding their first jobs. She said that she didn't get many immigrants because they were often rich and didn't need her help finding a job. This surprised me, it wasn't anything I had heard before! She continued and said that the majority of the few immigrants that are in the university have come to Spain just to study. Afterwards, they return to their home country, where the job market is much more friendly to university graduates. Some do choose to stay, though. Unlike the south of Spain, which has a lot of African migrants, the schools in the north (like the University of Leon) primarily have students from Latin America.

Interview #3

My last interview will not be very helpful to my project but it was an interesting experience nonetheless. On the way to Valencia this weekend, I was sitting next to an elderly man. I introduced myself and my project to him and asked what his opinion of it was. He thought about it for a moment and apologized. He said that he didn't know very much about the topic. Even so, he noted that there weren't many immigrants in the university by where he lived. Most of them, he said, were on the streets selling goods or working in restaurants. I thought this was an interesting comment because it made me question how people identified migrants exactly. I didn't feel comfortable asking him outright, but by the way he was describing things, it seemed as if he primarily used skin color and dress. Therefore, immigrants from Latin America would not be recognized by him.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Berlin Reflection



After spending our time in Berlin, I only wish I had more. It felt like just as I was getting to know the place, we had to leave! However, the people we met and the places we visited made our time there an amazing experience.
One of my favorite people to meet with was Bjoern, the new teacher. He was really easy to talk to and he gave us some great insights into the educational system in Germany. Although his interview isn’t as relevant to my project as it is for others, our conversation with him was really interesting because it allowed me to make a personal comparison to the US educational system. The system in Germany is similar to Romania’s in that it splits students early on into different schools and is solely based on grades. This is obviously very different from the United States where extracurricular activities as well as school work measure a student’s abilities. The differences that my parents and I have had in our educations have led to cultural clashes between us. However, my parents pushed me in the same way that the educational system pushes students and for that I am thankful. I could understand what Bjoern was talking about when he said that some students don’t have that same support (he didn’t either) which encouraged him to be a teacher. Although there are faults with the German system, it still produces prepared graduates, as can be seen by their economy.
On a different note, my favorite place that I visited while in Berlin was Potsdam. I could have ridden my bike through that town forever. Sanssouci and the park surrounding it were unlike anything I have ever seen in the United States. It made me realize another cultural difference between the US and Europe. Artistry is not as respected in the States as it is here. Rather, there seems to be a stress on getting things done as quickly as possible. Of course, the Rococo style at Sanssouci was slightly overdone for my taste but the art was magnificent regardless. Still, I wish I could see similar things in the US.
Overall, I found the trip to Berlin a great start to my European adventures! It was incredibly refreshing to feel connected to a larger history and to meet new people. I definitely will have to return.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Holocaust Memorial


On a (appropriately) stormy day, we took a 50 minute S-Bahn ride out to a small town called Oranienburg. There, we toured what used to be the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp for men. I had never visited such an emotionally charged place before, and I believe that my experience there will have lasting impressions on me. I find it slightly difficult to reflect on my time there because I am not sure how to. Throughout the tours, I felt as if the visual aspects were connecting to the previous facts that I had learned in school, but I still felt far away from the subject. As hard as I tried, it was still incredibly difficult for me to fully wrap my head around what had truly happened there. That is, until we went to the crematorium. As soon I stepped into the area, I felt it. I am not sure if it was guilt, pity or just overwhelming sadness but something inside of me moved. In that moment, it all became very real to me. The museum did a wonderful job of guiding you through the life of a prisoner: from the barracks to the crematorium. The walk back to the S-Bahn was much more silent than the walk to the camp.


Afterwards, we visited the memorial dedicated to the persecuted Jews of the Holocaust. As you walk into the maze, the noise of the surrounding streets. It all becomes confusing, as if you are watching a movie with the mute button on. You can see the outside world around you but you are no longer part of it. As you walk to either side, stumbling on the uneven ground, it feels as if the street is moving farther and farther away. The only thing keeping you from despair is the knowledge that this is only an exhibit. I really enjoyed the way the memorial was done because it tried to commemorate the experience of the Holocaust in a very personal way, which is more difficult to do through numbers and stories. We also went over to the LGBTQ memorial. I must admit, I did not completely understand what the artist intended but I still found it moving. All in all, a pretty emotionally draining day.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reichstag Tour

On Tuesday, our group had the privilege of touring the Reichstag, the governmental building for the Parliament and Chancellor of Germany. Though we didn't get to see Angela Merkel in action, the tour gave us a glimpse into the daily goings on of the government as well as a look at how they incorporated history into the building. The Reichstag was a mixture of the old and the new. Much of it had been rebuilt, obviously, yet there were many elements that remained constant. For example, the heights of the doors, the different uses of the rooms and even the original walls were kept. It is what was written on these walls that fascinated me the most.

On the walls, Soviet soldiers had signed their names and written other messages with charcoal. I was fascinated by the fact that such care was taken to preserve them. Why would they do so? Do the signatures serve simply as an aesthetic characteristic of the building or something more? It seemed to serve as a sobering reminder of the GDR and the past. As members of the Bundestag walk through the halls of the Reichstag, they remember their past, their future, their goals and the people they serve. In a way, the Reichstag serves as a commemoration to Germany's political past as well as a promise to a better future.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Palace of Tears

25/6/2013: 15:00 Uhr

Without Manuela's guidance, I would have never been able to find the Palace of Tears. There are no signs on the outside that commemorate this place. It stands as a silent piece of history with clear windows all around and no signs of the building name. And it is this invisible aspect of the building's commemoration that confused me the most. Why is it that such an important and emotionally charged place be allowed to blend in with the rest of the buildings at FriedrichstraBe? I wasn't able to start answering this question until after I had done the tour.

The exhibit was organized chronologically, beginning with the division of Berlin, moving through the erection of the wall and last, its opening. It took stories from the East and the West and combined them in a multimedia commemoration of not only the Palace of Tears but the division of Berlin. As we were about to enter the exhibition, a tour guide was trying to explain to her group the emotional and psychological states of an East Berliner. She emphasized the sense of desperation and loss that people had felt in that building, but I found it slightly unnecessary. The personal stories that were highlighted both before and after the fall of the Wall were emotional and relatable. I loved seeing the little things that people would try and bring with them as they fled: a small plate or other mementos.

However, I especially enjoyed how the exhibit emphasized the symbol of division that the Palace of Tears represented. This was primarily done through film and advertisements. West Berlin portrayed the East as oppressive and the East portrayed the West as unjust. Propaganda by the East showed them as protecting the East Berliners from the West while many of the personal accounts expressed a sense of being kept in. It was also interesting to see through film how in 1989, the GDR insisted on celebrating its anniversary while unrest continued to rise in its country.

As I exited the exhibit, I began to find an answer to my question of why Berlin chose such a quiet commemoration for the Palace of Tears. This place was a very important place but also very personal to those who were affected by it. In a way, the city pays its respects to the struggles faced by these people by not showcasing them to the world. The memories and pain are deep at this site, and though they will always be remembered, the people will heal and move on.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Final Proposal

FINAL PROPOSAL

Abstract
What are the origins of disparities among students enrolled in education systems and how do those affect their future?  How are the underlying causes of inequality different or similar across countries?


Our group’s interest lies in uncovering the reasons why certain groups of students are treated differently both within and across school systems.  We are also interested in finding out how discrimination across different modes of education affect pupils’ development and progression into later stages of life.  In an increasingly globalized and diverse world, countries are having to deal with a wider variety of students.  Different schools, teachers, and societies have reacted in different ways, which have differential effects on each type of student.  Each one of us will investigate four different areas of interest relating to education: different teaching styles, differential treatment in special education programs, the effectiveness of immigration support programs, and the impact of discrimination based on gender and sexuality.  Then, we will all come together and compare and contrast varying degrees of disparities in education among Germany, Spain, and the United States.  


Background
    In the United States, the education system varies by state. The path of education advances from primary to secondary school and then to college or vocational school. Curriculum is organized by the state and the federal government as well as the state governments’ organized standardized tests.
    Spain has a similar system where students advance through the same stages (primary, secondary, etc.). However, after the age of 16, only successful students are awarded a Secondary Education Certificate, which is necessary for them to continue on to university. This has resulted in Spain having double the mean of the EU’s dropout rate (Simon). Furthermore, students are not assessed through standardized tests (Simon).


The education system varies throughout Germany because each state implements its own educational policies; federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten education is provided for all children between two and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory. The German school system is free and compulsory until 9th grade. After the Grundschule (primary school from the ages 6- 10), teachers recommend each student for one of three different types of secondary education. Parents have the final decision about which school their child will attend.
Hauptschule is designed for students going into trades such as construction. This is completed after 9th or 10th grade (ages 14 to 16). During apprenticeships, students then attend Berufsschule, a dual-education vocational high school. The Hauptschule has been subject to significant criticism, as it tends to segregate the children of immigrants with schoolmates whose German is also poor, leading to a cycle of poverty.
Realschule is designed for students who want to apprentice for white-collar jobs not requiring university studies, such as banking; complete after 10th grade (age 15 to 16). Those who change their minds and decide to attend university can proceed after testing to:
Gymnasium is an academic preparatory school for pupils planning to attend universities or polytechnics. Some offer a classical education (Latin, Greek), while others concentrate on economics. The curriculum leading to the Abitur degree were recently reduced from 13th grade to 12th grade (ages 17 to 18 - "G8," eight years of Gymnasium).
The Gesamtschule, a mixed ability school, puts all pupils in a single building, combining the three main types; these are still quite rare.
Students with special needs are assigned to Förderschule.


Background: Roxana Rautu
    From personal experience, I can vouch that coming into a country where the native language is not your first makes navigating the educational system difficult. Yet language is only one of the barriers that immigrant students face. There are also differences in culture, beliefs and ways of thinking (Ogbu 1990). These differences are even present in the educational culture and expectations. This topic is extremely relevant and important for the world today. As we have seen, the economy is sensitive and it needs more skilled and diverse workers. Education should not be a privilege, but a right for all, no matter which country someone is originally from; therefore, it is important to identify the flaws in the current educational structures and work towards a solution.


Question: Roxana Rautu
    How are immigrant students supported throughout their education? What organizations and establishments are in place to aid them through the educational system?


Cultural Sensitivity: Roxana Rautu
    Though I try to keep an open mind as much as possible, I know that I am still fallible to biased thoughts. My experience has been mixed because I have been the immigrant and the native, in some ways. When we first moved to the United States, we did not have much money but I would say that the majority of my life has been privileged. I was also very young when we first moved here, so I have forgotten some of the hardships we faced. Over time, I have developed a different kind of lifestyle where I do not value material things and money as much as the American Dream teaches you to. However, I imagine it would be difficult for someone who has been oppressed and has never had enough money to agree with me. My biggest challenge will be to switch perspectives and truly understand theirs.


Daily Schedule: Roxana Rautu
    I am unsure of what resources will be available to me while we are abroad. Ideally, I would like to go to a high school and meet/talk with counselors, social workers, teachers and students. I would prepare questions and take notes during our conversations. In addition, I would learn more about the educational system and its biases in general from online resources.


References
Simon, Maria L.S. "The Story on Current Education Reforms in Spain: The past Will Come Back." Web log post. Education in Crisis. N.p., 21 Feb. 2013. Web.


Ogbu, John U. "Minority Education in Comparative Perspective." The Journal of Negro Education 59.1 (1990): 45-57. Web.


Background: Octavio de la Cruz
What personally drove me to want to investigate the educational system is because the career I am aspiring to become a teacher.  My selfish reasons for venturing on this study abroad are to examine the teaching techniques/styles of the teachers in Germany and Spain; then I would incorporate the methods that are effective into my own teaching curriculum.  It will further others and my own understanding of how the education system works in front of the curtains and will allow me to develop a deeper comprehension of how teachers prep and what positively effects students to succeed in school and in life following their completion with their schooling.  What I have already done to gain a deeper understanding for how the United States education system works is I have gone to two different schools and have observed their classroom settings, and interviewed a handful of students and the two teachers of the classrooms I observed.
Question: Octavio de la Cruz
What different/similar teaching techniques/styles are being utilized in each of the corresponding countries?  Do the students feel properly prepared to pursue a higher level of education and the “real world?”
Cultural Sensitivity: Octavio de la Cruz
My biases come from my family and the other classes I have taken.  My family is filled with teachers and they have already told me their two cents on the subject on hand of what is effective in the classroom and how the educational system in the United States is corrupt.  My other classes have influenced me into believing how the United States education system is corrupt because of the way that different races are treated and how teachers treat kids of different ethnicities unorthodoxly than white kids.  That when it comes to teachers in the United States the best teachers are taken away from low income areas and kids are prejudged and are ultimately left behind because of a predisposition of the student’s characteristics.  The other question that still needs to be raised as well is how much the people of these countries value their education.  I will need to forget what I have learned from previous classes and I will need to keep my own personal views away from the topic at hand.
Daily Schedule: Octavio de la Cruz
People I would like to meet while over in Berlin are a couple of the teachers and variety of different students (honor students, special need students, students with a language barrier with the nations primary language, and “regular” students.  In addition to these people I think it would be interesting to speak with the principles to hear their point of view of the subject on hand.  As far as equipment goes the only thing I’m going to need is my laptop to take notes down and to record any interviews that I have.  Then in addition with the information I gather from my personal conversations I would look to find the Linda Darling Hammond of Spain and Germany.
References: Octavio de la Cruz
Snelling, Nick. “Education system in Spain.” Expatica, News and Information for the International Community., March, 5th, 2011.  Web.
Hammond, Linda Darling.”What Happens to a Dream Deferred, The Continuing Quest for Equal Educational Opportunity.” Stanford University. article.



Background: Ileanna Zaballa


In the United States, IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, establishes the minimum supports and services schools must provide to meet minimum requirements. The federal law governs how states provide early intervention, special education, and related services. It also ensures free appropriate public education in their local school district from age 3 to age 18 or 21. In order for states to receive federal funds, their schools must meet the eligibility funding criteria of IDEA. States may exceed the requirements and provide more services. They cannot, however, provide fewer services or promulgate state regulations or practices that contradict the guidelines of IDEA.. Students with ASD have a right to related supports and services to help them learn and receive the maximum benefit from their educational programs.  If a student needs any of these "related services" to benefit from his/her education, they must be written into the IEP, Individualized Education Program. Frequency and duration of services, as well as relevant measurable objectives, should be included.


In Spain, the public administrations give students the necessary support from the beginning of their education or as soon as they are diagnosed as having special needs. The schools develop the curriculum for the student based on their needs and characteristics. They also develop an educational project, where the objectives and educational priorities are established along with the implementation procedures. The student’s education support should be in congruity with non discrimination, educational normalization, with the purpose of achieving their inclusion. Professional teams take into account parents’ and teachers’ opinions to integrate students in mainstream groups, in specialised classrooms within mainstream schools, or in special education schools.


In Germany, they are making strides towards inclusive teaching. The education system is setup so as students must earn their right to return to mainstream schools. The education authority makes the decision on whether to transfer a student following a request from Sonderschulen or from the parents. Students at special can be admitted to a Grunschule or Hauptschule if there is a chance that they will be able to “cope with lessons and achieve success”. Special education is classified with concern for the students special educational requirements into the following categories: blind, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, mentally disabled, physically disabled, students with learning difficulties, students with behavioral problems, students with impaired speech, students with a disease. Preventative measures and co-operation in early intervention are becoming more and more important. “Students facing the threat of disability receive preventive  assistance to help counteract the emergence of disability.”


The topic is relevant because Autism is becoming increasingly prevalent. In the United States 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism. An evaluation of how effective the education system is in providing relevant services for children with ASD is important.


Question: Ileanna Zaballa


In relation to Autism, what is the diagnostic process and interventions and services offered in the different countries? What is the difference between the services the state says they should provide and what is actually implemented? How often and how hard do school strive for inclusion?


Cultural Sensitivity: Ileanna Zaballa


My biases derive from my experiences with children who have autism, in school, camp, research, and personal settings. In my career I want to work with children that have autism and I want to be an advocate for children who are often overlooked and just excluded because the don’t develop typically. My position is that professionals should be trained in ways to ensure a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment for all students. I believe in a classroom if I were a teacher it would not be my job to figure out if a student should be participating, but it would be my responsibility to figure out how they can participate. I believe teachers should appreciate and honor individuality and provide an appropriate and challenging education to all students.


Daily Schedule: Ileanna Zaballa


In Berlin, Madrid, and Leon I would like to interview members of the department of education, special education teachers, teachers who teach inclusive classrooms, parents, and activists. I'm hoping that interviews with individuals will lead me to more contacts that they see relevant. I want to start off interviews at schools then conduct more interviews at churches and community resources, in order to get a well rounded view of the social constructs of Autism. I plan to use cameras and video recorders to capture the environment and certain interviews. I want to gather information through photos, notes from interviews, and observations I note.  


Resources: Ileanna Zaballa



"Spain — European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education." European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 June 2013. <http://www.european-agency.org/country-information/spain>.


"Special needs education within the education system - Germany — European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education." European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2013. <http://www.european-agency.org/country-information/germany/national-overview/special-needs-education-within-the-education-system>.