February 27, 1985

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Vol. 04, Issue 23
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In Japan, as in the United States, high schools have become the prime target for much of the rhetoric surrounding educational reform. It is here, at the stage when personalities solidify and career paths take shape, that the discrepancies between what the society intends for its young and what it actually delivers become most apparent.
Four years ago, 18-year-old Takehisa Kishimoto seemed virtually assured of success in life. He had just graduated from La Salle High School, a famous private school in the city of Kagoshima that annually places almost half of its class of 270 seniors in Japan's elite universities.
Kazoyuki Shindo, a vice president at Toyo Kohan, a major producer of tin plate, said that his alma mater, Waseda University, has had problems in the past several years because parents were bribing faculty members to obtain copies of the university's entrance examination before it was administered. Now, he said, Waseda and the public universities take extra precautions: The tests are printed in jails by prisoners who cannot give copies out, and they are kept locked up in a safe until the day of exams.

Sakura-ga Oka (Cherry Hill) High School in Tokuyama is a place for the students nobody else wants.
The Mitsubishi Corporation is Japan's largest diversified trading company, so its manager for recruitment and development, Kazuaki Hikida, has little trouble finding qualified applicants for the 150 managerial-trainee positions he fills each year. More than 1,000 recent college graduates apply.
Just for fun, I took a metro ride during the morning rush hour from Korakuen to the shopping and business district of downtown Tokyo. As I boarded the train, a phalanx of businessmen, students, and office workers charged forward in one bone-crunching surge, squeezing through the narrow gate of the subway door in the brief seconds that it remained open.

At each stop, more people jammed through the door, and although we were squashed together, passengers read their books and newspapers. There was hardly enough room for their eyes to move, let alone their hands.

An American visiting a Japanese high school is struck by a curious piece of Americana that appears again and again on notebooks and textbook covers. It is the image of James Dean, the young actor of the 1950's whose life and death symbolized for a generation of Americans the loneliness of cultural alienation.
Jiro is 11 years old and wanders the neighborhood like a stray cat, lapping his milk from the bowls left for him in the neighbors' houses.

They take him into their homes, feed him leftovers and fruit, serve up the love he cannot find at home.

While Americans may disagree heartily on the goals of public education, all agree that learning to read is a necessary component of schooling. For that reason, many reading theorists have sought to develop a definition of the reading process and a model for teaching reading.
Ten years ago, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P. L. 94-142), requiring the public schools to identify and then to provide special-education services to youngsters with educational, developmental, emotional, or physical disabilities.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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