Transition of the concept of equality of educational opportunity

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Transition of the concept of equality of educational opportunity the case of high school reform in Japan
Takase, Noriko
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xiii, 232 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Educational change -- Japan ( lcsh )
High schools -- Japan ( lcsh )
Educational equalization -- Japan ( lcsh )
Educational change ( fast )
Educational equalization ( fast )
High schools ( fast )
Japan ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 225-232).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Noriko Takase.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Full Text
Noriko Takase
B.A., Ochanomizu University, 1978
M.A., University of Colorado, 1993
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation

1999 by Noriko Takase
All rights reserved.

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Noriko Takase
has been approved
Rodney Muth
Yumiko Tanaka

Takase, Noriko (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Transition of the concept of equality of educational opportunity: The case of high
school reform in Japan
Thesis directed by Professor Rodney Muth
This study focuses on the concept of equality of educational opportunity and its
relationship with the direction of educational reform in Japan. In the history of
Japanese postwar education, the egalitarian principle, "everyone together and equal"
has been the only interpretation of equal educational opportunity. Recently, in order
to eliminate cumulative undesired effects of such rigidity in education, reform
projects have been initiated toward "deregulation" and "less standardized" schooling
under the government's leadership. Considering such background factors, this study
examines how this concept, equal educational opportunity, has come to be recognized
at present in the field of high school education in Japan. The questionnaire survey
investigated perceptions about school administration and recent high school reform,
of high school principals (in the Tokyo and Kanagawa districts), by which tendencies
could be determined on how they interpreted equal educational opportunity. The
framework for the study was developed from a comparative perspective with U.S.
educational reform. A model of equal educational opportunity that comprised four
interpretations, mainly based on Gutmann's study of 1987, as well as its associated
indexes, determined by a historical review of U.S. educational reform and finance
litigation, was applied to the Japanese high school setting. The four types of
interpretation and each associated index are: (a) Meritocracy as minimum input, (b)

Maximization as maximum individualized input, (c) Equalization as maximum equal
output, and (d) the Democratic threshold principle as minimum output. The results of
the survey reveal that Maximization is most frequently supported in discussing
"input" of school administration, having already replaced long-standing
egalitarianism. When discussing selection, Meritocracy is dominant. Discords are
observed between the respondents' ideas on "input" and "output" in education; and
between their views of selection and ideas on reform direction. The equilibrium has
already been lost between "public egalitarianism and private meritocracy." That is.
the characteristics of postwar education, coexistence of the officially proclaimed
"egalitarianism" in public sector and the effectively prevailing "meritocracy" in the
private sector that is seen as a private concern, have declined. Implications,
suggestions for advancing discussion about equality of educational opportunity, and a
report of follow-up interviews are also included.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend
its publication.
Rodney Muth

To my parents, my husband, Knzo and my daughter, Fumi.

I would like to thank the many people who helped make this thesis possible. I
am grateful to the members of my committee for their supportive advice. Special
appreciation is owed to my advisor, Professor Rodney Muth, for his extraordinary
understanding and encouragement over the course of my long doctoral study
conducted both in the United States and Japan. The kind cooperation of the high
school principals in Tokyo and Kanagawa who took part in the questionnaire survey
and follow-up interviews was invaluable and highly appreciated. Finally, I would like
to offer thanks to my proofreaders for their patience, especially Stephen Walker who
helped over the final few months.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY IN JAPAN.........................1
Policy Change and Its Impact on the Equality of
Educational Opportunity3
Needs for Discussion and Research....................5
Previous Lack of Discussion
and Research..................................7
Purpose of the Study.................................8
Japanese High School................................10
Framework of the Study..............................11
Comparative Perspective......................11
Model of Equality of Educational Opportunity
and Its Application..........................13
Structure of the Study..............................17
AND ITS INTERPRETATION..................................19
Two Traditions of Educational Reform................19
Origins in the U.S.: Jefferson and Mann......20
Emphasis in Arguments, Issues in the Two Trends.24
Two Principles...............................30

Interpretation of Equality of Educational Opportunity.......31
Definitions and Indexes in Educational Litigation...32
Principles of Equal Educational Opportunity.........36
Model of Equality of Educational Opportunity:
Four Types of Interpretation................................40
3. JAPANESE EDUCATION...............................................48
History of Reform Attempts in Postwar Japan................49
High School Reform .................................56
Equality of Educational Opportunity in Postwar Japan.......62
Meritocratic Nature of Japanese Educational System ...67
Public Egalitarianism and Private Meritocracy...68
Jeffersonian and Mannian Trends in Japan............70
Application of the Four Types of Interpretation: Equality of
Educational Opportunity in the Recent High School Reform
in Japan....................................................71
Equalization Interpretation as Maximum
Equal Output........................................73
Meritocracy Interpretation as Minimum Input.........74

Maximization Interpretation as Maximum
Individualized Input.............................76
Democratic Threshold Interpretation as
Minimum Output...................................78
4. METHODOLOGY..................................................80
Survey Research..........................................82
Development of the Questionnaire.........................88
Composition of Spheres...........................90
Definition, Proposition, and Indicators Applied in the
Question Items..........................................104
Data Analysis Method....................................116
Coding for Data Entry...........................116
Pre- Procedure for Multivariate Analysis........117
Descriptive Data and Multivariate Analysis......118
Principal Component Analysis....................119
Discriminant Analysis and Demographic Data......122
Follow-Up Interviews...................................125
5. ANALYSIS OF THE SURVEY......................................126
Macro Tendency..........................................127

Intra Sphere Analysis........................................139
View of Selection: Responses in Sphere 1............143
The Aim of School Education: Responses
in Sphere 6.........................................146
Gap in Desirable Direction of High School Reform:
Responses in Sphere 7...............................148
Views of Individuality and Commonality:
Responses in Sphere 2...............................151
Views of Resource Distribution: Responses
in Sphere 3.........................................154
Summary of Intra-Sphere Analysis....................156
Discriminant Analysis........................................157
Discriminant Analysis Based on Establishing Body
(Public Vs. Private)................................158
Discriminant Analysis Based on Self-Claimed
Competitiveness of the School Admission.............160
Discriminant Analysis Based on the Ratio of the Students
Continuing on to Universities........................163
Summary and Interpretation of
the Discriminant Analysis............................167
Inter-Sphere Analysis.........................................169
Selection and Choice (Individuality
and Commonality).....................................171
Selection and Resource Distribution..................173

Selection and Ideas on the Direction of
High School Reform...............................175
Concept of Ability and View of Selection.........178
Ability, Socialization and Financial Aid.........180
Interpretations of Inter-Sphere Analysis.........182
6. FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS..........................................184
Changed Notions about Japanese High School...............185
Aggressive Maximization..........................187
Practice of Maximization Policy..................189
What Does Maximization Mean?.............................191
Synthesis 1: The Decline of Public Egalitarianism and Private
Weakened Balance.................................194
Synthesis 2: The Transition of the Educators Own Views
and Ideas................................................197
Inconsistency in the View of Competition.........198
Degree of Support for Deregulation...............199
Searching for a New Order...............................201

COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE.....................207

Japanese education is now searching for a new model to replace its so-called
postwar system. Since the postwar reform of the 1940s, Japan has aimed for the
development of an efficient system and quantitative expansion, along with
maintaining and improving standards. This in effect has meant that Japan continued
to pursue the catch-up policy in the field of education even after the World War II.
This catch-up policy was originally adopted by the nation in almost every field after
the Meiji Restoration (1868) in response to its position as a late starter, compared to
Western countries, in terms of modernization and industrialization (Tsukuba
Association for International Education, 1998).
It was the centralized and egalitarian administration within the single-tracked
school system that promoted expansion and preserved the catch up policy in
postwar Japanese education (Cummings, 1980). It has been taken for granted that all
students are provided with the same content and learning conditions in the same track
throughout Japan within the formal primary and secondary schooling (Shimahara,
1992). Therefore, exceptional treatment of students such as gifted programs and

grade skipping had been barely regarded as even plausible issues till the mid-1990s
(Stevenson, 1994). Rapid expansion and raising of standards were efficiently attained
through such a standardized and egalitarian schooling system, rigid regulation that did
not admit exceptions, and social ethics that had accepted this kind of egalitarian
educational system (Cummings, 1982; Feinberg, 1993; Shimahara, 1979).
Although the high standard of Japanese education has been internationally
acclaimed, recent domestic evaluations of the fixed egalitarian model in education
have come to cast it in a more negative light. Mounting criticism and a growing crisis
of confidence concerning Japanese education have already led to an emerging
consensus that the very objectives of postwar education as well as the existing fixed
model are now undermining Japanese schools (Schoppa, 1991; Shields, 1992).
Successive governments have attempted to reform domestic education since
the 1980s. The reform projects have generally aimed to release students from rigid
standardized schooling as well as excessively heated competition. However, the ideas
behind this reform did not remarkably penetrate into society, or did not aim to reform
its overall fundamental system.
It is very recently that the concept of deregulation became incorporated
into Japanese education. At the end of 1996, education was for the first time included
in the targets of the government's structural reform project which had mainly
promoted deregulation in the area of fiscal management and administration at national

as well as local level, the financial system, and social welfare. Kiyohara (1997)
points out that this deregulation project is not assumed to lead to a drastic reform of
Japan's education system, but simultaneously claims that this process nevertheless
shows that the recent small changes, while being incremental, have certainly shaken
the existing postwar system that has lasted for fifty years. Recently, therefore, not
only the learning process and content but also the schooling system has become a
target of the deregulation trend.
Overall, current educational reform in Japan is carried out toward pro-soft
version, deregulation, and less emphasis on standard. This is actually directed
in opposition to western educational reforms which recently began to put more
emphasis on centralized administration and standards (Ichikawa, 1995).
Policy Change and Its Impact on the Equality
of Educational Opportunity
The governments policy change toward deregulation, which aims to shake
off uniform and standardized schooling, is clearly demonstrated in the second report
of Central Council for Education (CCE), The model for Japanese education in the
perspective of the 21st Century, issued in June1997. In this report, the CCE
proposed a new approach to education: shifting from valuing formal equality in
education to respecting individuality (CCE, p. 6). The CCE evaluated postwar

Japanese education as having attained major success but sharply pointed out that too
much emphasis on equality in education have driven Japanese schooling into a comen
Looking back with this way of thinking, until now Japan strove to
disseminate education which emphasized equality in education, and aimed to
maintain and improve the standard of education. No matter where in the
country they were located or in what school they studied, children were
taught with approximately the same content and methods. ...However in this
country in valuing equality, beyond valuing formal equality in education,
even equality of outcomes was expected, and as a result, the education
system was constructed to be uniform, and it is a fact that there was tendency
toward rigidity in operation, (p. 6)
This statement by the CCE reveals that the concept of equality has been the
moving force behind the postwar history of Japanese education, and argues that the
uniform interpretation of equality eventually created a barriers to further development
in education after it had attained a certain level of success.
The Central Council for Education, in the same report, advocated how
emphasis should be moved in domestic education in terms of equality as follows;
Securing equality of opportunity in education is important in any
age, and from now on as well, continuing efforts to this end are fundamental.
However, until now in Japan, demands for formal equality have been too
strong, and that an education which responds to individual abilities and
aptitudes has not been given sufficient consideration must be rectified. Up
until now education was controlling, and in all areas the idea was everyone
together and equal; approaches must now be advanced to shift this idea to
Content, methods and approaches that respond to each person's
individuality and abilities. (p. 7)

Since the CCE is the most powerful council for policy-making in education,
this statement indicates an official policy shift in Japan. That is, the Japanese
government will renounce the idea of everyone together and equal as the means of
securing equal opportunity in education, and instead respecting individuality is put
forward as the new model to replace the existing egalitarian model.
In sum, with the trend of deregulation and criticism of recent educational
crisis, government-led reform is now demanding reconsideration of what has been
called equal opportunity in the field of education.
Needs for Discussion and Research
It is imperative that changing the notion of equality of educational opportunity
should have impact on the whole system of Japanese education. On this point, it
cannot be assured that either educational administrators or active educators are ready
for the potentially drastic changes which will likely be caused by the transition of this
fundamental concept of education. Rather even starting such discussion will surely
create difficulties even from the level of focusing on what can be assured as
constituting equal opportunity under a new model of education. Given the fact that
the single principle of egalitarianism has dominated the educational system,
administration, and its operation in Japan, it will be inevitably difficult to come up
with interpretations of equal opportunity apart from everyone together and equal.

Referring to the CCE report (1997), for example, the following issues remain
vague, which need deliberative discussion on whether the new policy, respecting
individuality, will replace or affect the existing so-called formal equality. Is
respecting individuality a decision that threatens equal educational opportunity
which the existing egalitarian administration guaranteed, or is respecting
individuality a concept providing extra guarantee of educational investment in
addition to what the existing equality has protected? Or is this new policy so different
in nature that discussion on equal educational opportunity should be restarted from
the very level of its basic assumptions?
In order to explore a new model and formulate new policies, deliberating on
what is guaranteed by equality of educational opportunity in such substantial ways as
stated above can be the first step. However, neither discussion that deals with this
issue relating to actual policy formulation nor research studies investigating how this
theme is perceived in actual school settings have been attempted.
In sum, it can be pointed out that the recent reform projects in Japan will
presumably have difficulties in shifting from egalitarian education because of the
following factors concerning the concept of equal educational opportunity. First,
there has barely been a basis for starting a wide range of discussion due to the near-
exclusive support for egalitarianism in postwar history. Second, associated with this
lack of discussion basis, little research has focused on how educators in actual

educational institutions have changed their interpretations of equal opportunity in
response to reform attempts since the 1980s as well as changing social conditions, by
which their support or readiness for future reform could be investigated.
Previous Lack of Discussion and Research
The main reasons for the current lack of basis for discussion and research can
be found in the history of postwar Japanese education; here, the theme of equality has
been so politicized and institutionalized that the type of egalitarianism prevalent in
schools and the community, has been the only choice in educational discussion
(Takakura, 1996).
Several interrelated factors have been pointed out as reasons for the
persistence of the egalitarian strand, such as a relatively homogeneous socio-
economic structure and most parents' eagerness for high-status educational credentials
(this will be closely examined in Chapter 3). However, the most apparent and
practical reason is the tension between the Japan Teacher Union and the government
(Duke, 1973). Donohue, et al. (1992) report that Collectively, the powerful Teacher
Union acts as the guardian of the egalitarian nature of the Japanese educational
system (p. 30). Therefore, even as the two sides clashed, proper discussion did not
take place in the field of education as a result of the Union's all-out opposition to any
alternatives (Ota, 1989).

Concerning this historical situation, the CCEs reference to this theme with a
sound negative evaluation of formal equality is strikingly new and can be regarded
as reflecting a change in social conditions that occurred when the Japan Teacher
Union declared in 1995 that it would collaborate with Ministry of Education from that
time forth.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate how equality of educational
opportunity is currently recognized in the field of education in Japan. The main
concern is whether or not the current government-led reform has brought about the
substantial changes in the equal educational opportunity concept in high school
settings. To accomplish this study, high school principals' perceptions about
schooling, administration, and recent high school reform are investigated through
questionnaire survey, by which the tendency how they interpret equal educational
opportunity can be determined.
Although domestic criticism severely claims that Japan's thoroughly
egalitarian system is the primary cause of the recent national perception of
education at crisis, little research has been examined how equality of educational
opportunity has been interpreted in postwar Japanese education as well as how it is
now actually perceived by the active educators and administrators. Given the shift

toward deregulation initiated by the government, it remains vague how the
fundamental concept of equality is transitioning in actual school settings. This study
intends to present empirical data on this theme, not only to fill a research gap but also
to provide a basis on which discussion of equal educational opportunity can be
explored in Japan.
Before making a framework of the survey research, this study endeavors to
analyze the long-standing egalitarian nature of postwar-Japanese education by
utilizing the model of equal educational opportunity derived from a historical review
of U.S education. This process is necessary to fill a research gap, as well as to study
the gathered data from the perspective of change occurring in Japanese high school
In order to develop proper discussion of the direction of educational reform,
it is important to get back to the fundamental theme, equality of educational
opportunity. Japanese education has now reached the point where scrutiny is required
regarding how the equality of opportunity has been perceived not only as official
policy but also on a common sense level in society. After this process, it should be
examined how and to what extent Japanese education is struggling to reform itself
and going toward deregulation. This can be observed by examining the equal
educational opportunity; how this is currently perceived and whether this can be
considered to have started transitioning or not. Therefore, this study aims to

contribute to the discussion process for policy formulation that has been formerly
restricted or excessively politicized in Japan.
Japanese High School
A high school setting was selected for the survey research in this study, since
high school reform is the principal focus of Japanese educational reform (Ichikawa,
1995), having been successively carried out since the 1980s (Hishimura, 1995). After
entering the 1990s, new project schools and several deregulation measures were put
in practice in the field of high school education in accordance with the CCE report
issued in 1991 (for details, see Chapter 3). Besides these systemic changes brought
about by the practical reform projects, high school education is assumed to be a
relatively flexible and changeable part of Japanese schooling because it is not
compulsory. Consequently, high school education is more likely to break with the
everyone together and equal (CCE, 1997) approach than will compulsory
(elementary school and junior high school) education. Moreover, compared with
higher education, high school is confronted with the critical problem of how to meet
students' diverse needs because high school attendance is effectively universal. Thus,
it can be expected that changes should have occurred and are taking place in Japanese
high schools compared with the other levels of education. Information and knowledge
gained from the empirical study are expected to provide the basis for this study.

Framework of the Study
The basic and most important approach of this study is to acknowledge that
the interpretation of equal educational opportunity determines the direction of
educational reform. The review of the history and development of the model as well
as the questionnaire were processed based on this position.
An inductive approach has been taken in the investigation process.
Normative theories or theories of related areas in social science were not applied to
this study, rather a model of equal educational opportunity was developed through the
historical and literature review only from this studys particular perspective of the
relationship between the direction of educational reform and the concept of equal
educational opportunity.
Comparative Perspective
Although this study focuses on the history and current condition of Japanese
education and its high school reform, the first step of this investigation starts with a
historical review of U.S educational reform to derive a model of equality of
educational opportunity. The reason for seeking a conceptualization basis from the
experiences of other countries is that there has been very little argument or discussion

on this theme in the field of Japanese education. Thus, records of movements and
litigation, a wide range of studies, and media analyses are not available.
The U.S was selected for comparison because of similarity, familiarity, and
critical differences. First, the postwar system of Japanese education was established
under the control and guidelines of the American Occupation. The original system of
education in Japan is therefore very similar to the American model. Even after
subsequent changes in some sub-systems, the overall system and underlying concepts
of Japanese education share fundamental values of a democratic society with the U.S.
such as the single-track system and the emphasis on credentials.
Second, the two countries have had mutual concern about each others
educational attainment, productivity, and specific cultures. Especially after entering
the 1980s, the two countries, each carrying out their own educational reform,
attempted to benefit from the experience of the other (OERI, 1987). Thus, the
cumulative studies by the comparative researchers are assumed to contribute to
design, conceptualization, and analysis of this study.
Third, in the history of U.S. education, various cases of academic discussion,
educational movement, litigation, and public debate directly tackle the theme of
equality of educational opportunity. This is the crucial difference with Japanese
education. Consequently, in order to generate the framework for this study, indexes
of equality, attributes of the movements pursuing equal educational opportunity, and

the main philosophical positions on this theme introduced in the studies of U.S. and
Japanese comparative researchers were examined.
This study, as stated above, refers to U.S history and reviews U.S literature
on equal educational opportunity, in the areas of finance and political philosophy in
particular. Accordingly, this can be regarded as a comparative study of Japanese
education with the U.S. However, it should be noted that this study does not consider
the path of American educational reform up to the present as normative, nor does it
actually compare data from the U.S. and Japan.
Model of Equality of Educational Opportunity
and Its Application
The model of equality of educational opportunity introduced in Chapter 2
was developed with the intent to be applied across societies. In addition, the concepts
of the model were devised in such a way that variables could be developed for
statistical data processing. Thus, the final form of the model is comprised of four
interpretations of equal educational opportunity, in other words, the four types of
index of equal educational opportunity. One interpretation (or one index) of the
equality of educational opportunity is composed of the combination between
maximum versus minimum and input versus output. The divider, input
versus output was derived from the history of U.S. educational reform, in which
arguments between the two major trends has revolved around two opposing views of

equality (based on input or output). The divider, minimum or maximum was mainly
generated from the reviews about educational litigation (for details, see Chapter 2).
In this study, special attention is paid to the application of this simple model
to Japanese education, because several difficulties were anticipated. Before
presenting the methodology of the survey study that is based on the application of this
model, the problems and difficulties will be explained in this section in a detailed
manner. This is explained here because this is concerned with the whole process of
the study, that is, any of the processes of generating a model, constructing a
questionnaire, analyzing the data, and inquiring implications about this study.
These difficulties are primarily peculiar to methodology of comparative
studies. When applying abstract constructs in a model that is derived from one
societys phenomena to another society, problems arise in its very application. For
example, the concept of meritocracy in U.S. society does not actually indicate the
same phenomena, systems, or images to which people generally refer in Japanese
society. Even between similar systems in the similar societies, different cultures,
complex social institutions, and dissimilarities in each societys historical background
have the potential to threaten the ability of a model to be used across societies.
Especially in past studies on Japanese education, not a few scholars
emphasize the uniqueness of Japanese society and human relations. They generally
caution against overlooking phenomena and features specific to Japan as well as their

causal relation with Japanese culture. Some of them take an approach which sees the
uniqueness as the key to extending comparative perspective itself, while a handful of
scholars attribute specific phenomena and problems to the specific Japanese concept
of ability, or its unique culture (Iwata, 1981).
Oktsu (1991) criticizes this tendency by pointing out that When explaining
Japan-specific phenomena, using the rationale that Japan is specific is nothing but
repetitive and inadequate (p. 156). Applying the above perspective to this study, it
can be assumed that, if the researcher only focused on a particular tendency of
Japanese arguments on equality, the study might reach an unwarranted conclusion
about the future direction of educational reform.
Although it is important to be concerned over special features of the subject
society, the primary purpose of this study is to fill a gap in study and arouse
discussion on this theme in Japan. This lead this study to identify definition,
proposition, and indicator of each interpretation (variable) in the model when
applying it to Japanese education. The term indicator is used by Smelser (1976) in
arguing for the methodology of comparative sociology. Smelser makes a distinction
between higher-level variables (four interpretations in this study) and factors in the
sub-class level, called indicator. He cautions comparative researchers against heavy
emphasis on dissimilarities, which interferes with selection of variables for
comparison, and suggests that the important task for a researcher is rather to pay

attention to the relation of variables with its indicators. In comparing dissimilar social
units, Smelser believes that:
... it is not necessary to specify the precise character of the
dissimilarity among units____fsicl for example, dissimilarity in cultural
values, dissimilarity in level of economic development, or dissimilarity of
political system___Isic) but only to know that their exists sufficient
dissimilarity to complicate the variable-indicator relation. (1976, p. 165)
Smelser does not propose to neglect dissimilarity caused by social cultural
interference, and in some cases, brought about by researchers themselves. Smelser
elucidates the process of applying original variables by introducing the indicator
concept and advises not to make light of causal relation between variables and
indicators in the analysis process.
Therefore, relying on Smelsers position in methodology of comparative
sociology, this study took the following measures in constructing a questionnaire in
which the model was tailored to Japanese conditions.
First, before constructing the questionnaire, a definition is made for each
interpretation of equal educational opportunity not based on the term such as
Meritocracy in Japan but based on the index of it such as minimum input in
Japan. This process is assumed to be useful to remove the impact of the society-
specific notions from which original variables are derived.

Second, based on the fundamental position of this study to view the
relationship between the concept of equal educational opportunity and reform
direction, proposition is inquired into Japanese advocates statements and
objectives of reform movements, that appears to take a position of each interpretation
of equality of educational opportunity. Third, each indicator of the variables (four
interpretations of equality of educational opportunity) is identified. Then analysis of
the data collected is accomplished by an ongoing back and forth examination between
the variables of the model and specific conditions of Japanese education and its
This will be explained again in the section in Chapter 4 on the instrument
used in this study.
Structure of the Study
The first chapter introduces the topic and gives a brief explanation of the
conditions of equality of educational opportunity in Japan. Chapter 2 reviews U.S
history and literature from the perspective of the relationship between educational
reform and equality of educational opportunity concept. Based on this review,
Chapter 2 also presents a model of equal educational opportunity that can be applied
to Japanese education. In the first half of Chapter 3, the history of postwar Japanese
education and the recent educational reform are reviewed with special emphasis on

what the Japanese educational reform has attempted and resulted in. The latter half of
the chapter is devoted to the analysis of the condition of Japanese education by
applying the model developed in the previous chapter. The methodology of the
questionnaire survey is explained in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 analyzes the data and
presents the findings. Chapter 6 contains a summary of the follow-up interviews.
Chapter 7 discusses the recent conditions surrounding the equality of educational
opportunity and problems of Japanese high school reform based on the findings. The
eighth chapter briefly discusses the direction of educational reform fiom as a
comparative perspective.

This study initially focuses on the history of U.S. educational reform. Based
on this historical review and synthesis of some scholars' studies on educational
finance, educational litigation, and political philosophy, the model of equality of
educational opportunity, that is, four types of interpretation, will be presented in the
last part of this chapter.
Two Traditions of Educational Reform
Throughout the history of U. S. education, the equality of educational
opportunity has not been developed as the unified concept of educational policy.
Tracing the history of educational movements back to the very beginning of public
schooling, the two prominent trends of U.S. education appeared to indicate the keys to
understanding the complex features of equality of educational opportunity. Therefore,
this section reviews the origins of these major two trends, and then looks at how they
have been segmented along with the expansion of education as well as during the
process of various educational reforms in the twentieth century.

Origins in the U.S.: Jefferson and Mann
An overview of American history of education reveals two trends in
educational reform which started from the establishment of public schooling. The
first trend originated with Thomas Jefferson's ideal of education, and the second
trend follows in the tradition of Horace Manns ideas on common schools and the
succeeding common school movement The difference between the two trends
emanating from Jefferson and Mann lies in what constitutes an equal educational
opportunity (Brick, 1993). Cremin describes the subsequent controversy and
arguments between the two trends as follows:
... the extent to which American educational debate over the past
hundred and fifty years can be viewed as a series of arguments for one
aspect of Jeffersons program as opposed to another: the practical versus the
liberal; the individual versus the social; and most important point, perhaps,
the elitist versus the equalitarian. (Cremin, 1965, p. 41)
Jefferson and Mann shared the republican ideal of a modem society in which
future citizens with proper education would be able to exercise morality and reason;
that is, their ideals had a common starting point: that the primary concern of education
reform is to give equal educational opportunity to all children. As Drikurs (1971)
claims, Jefferson is the first person who shaped the formerly vague concept of
equality used in a broad context into equality of opportunity in the field of

education, which later formed on equality of educational opportunity. Jefferson and
Mann also shared a conviction that school should not represent any interest of a
particular social class, group, or religious sect when seeking equality in education.
Cremin (1965) believes that Mann was thoroughly steeped in the
Jeffersonian tradition, but he refers to Manns attitude, contrasting it with that of
Jefferson, as follows: Mann was an uncompromising equalitarian, who never tired
of insisting-occasionally with appropriate allusions to Jeffersonthat the general
diffusion of knowledge rather than the liberal education of leaders should be the
paramount concern of a republican society (p. 42).
Their contrasting approaches to educational reform can be explained and
summarized in the following ways. First, Jefferson and Mann adopted quite different
approaches and strategies in their mutual concern for the socio-political neutrality of
public schooling. Jefferson's basic approach is to remove obstacles which interfere
with development of potential human talent such as political conflict, religious
prohibition, poverty, social class, and nurturing conditions (Brick, 1983). Jefferson
intended to eliminate political and religious interference from the content of schooling
as he was convinced that social and political decisions should be subject to individual
choice of a citizen who has moral sense and reasoning ability developed through
proper education. Jefferson, being a natural aristocrat, proposed a three-tier system of
education to select talented students regardless of postnatal conditions. For Jefferson,

equal educational opportunity means giving individuals basic schooling so that they
become competent as citizens and then to offer further opportunity on the basis of
selective and demonstrated talent to develop educated leadership according to
individual ability (Conant, 1963). On the other hand, Mann was concerned with
running schools on a common basis to seek equality in education; he made non-
denominational Protestant Christianity the main ideological basis in common schools,
and he proposed to offer all students common content and curriculum with public
Second, their different approaches lie at the heart of todays American
education; Jefferson's ideals respect individuality and a deregulation-oriented climate
(Conant 1963), while Mann's ideals underscore commonality and social integration,
that necessitate a regulation-oriented administration (Katz, 1975).
Third, their divergent approaches can be viewed in terms of their substantial
differences in belief about human ability. While Jefferson believed in an aristocracy
of natural talent Mann placed more optimistic confidence in the role of education
for human development in general. Mann, having rejected the Calvinist view that a
child is bom in sin, believed that a child is a lump of clay who can be shaped for the
future. Takeichi (1988) claims that Mann holds romantic beliefs on human
potentiality, which can be called a philosophy of possibility. In contrast as Brick
claims, In Jefferson's scheme, schools functioned to compensate for lack of

opportunity, not for lack of readiness. The individual student was responsible for
proving what he could do based on what Jefferson termed his innate ability (1993,
Fourth, due to the difference in their beliefs about human talent and its
development, the purpose of education is quite different when appealing to the tax-
paying public. Jefferson advocated the importance of educated leadership when
discussing the role of higher education (Butts & Cremin, 1964), while Mann
emphasized the effect of education on economic development in the days when
national excellence would be attained by raising the overall level of the people
(Spring, 1994).
Last, and crucially important to the discussion on equality of opportunity,
Jefferson never referred to equal outcome, however this view contrasted with that
of Mann who emphasized that equal attainment was possible, which was reflected in
the goal Mann finally set for public education to accomplish: schools should work to
develop or form the faculties of human nature (Curti, 1980). As Ulich (1965) points
out, Jefferson's emphasis on the equality of all men and on their right to be educated,
never led him to confuse equality of opportunity with equality of achievement (p.
These ideals, in spite of a common starting point that rejects class-based
education by employing the concept of equality of educational opportunity, yield

divergent views of education over the history of American educational reform. The
trend from Jefferson inclines to emphasize meritocracy and to call for deregulation in
the field of education. On the other hand, the trend from Mann tends towards
egalitarian strategies and greater regulation to reform education.
Rmphasis in Arguments. Issues in the Two Trends
After the beginning of the 20th century when the primary purpose to
establish a basic schooling system had been accomplished, the two ideals came into
competition in discussion of issues of social selection and the sorting function of
schools. By that time, American society had dramatically changed and become a
modem industrial society. Rapid industrialization, urbanization, the influx of
immigrants, and the rise of big business restructured class distinction, wealth
distribution, and value systems in the society. The social structure became more and
more pyramidal; cultures became complex and pluralistic. Social problems such as
poverty, crime, dropouts from schools in the urban cities were translated into a claim
that common school ideals were no longer the key to social development. Spring
(1994) points out the certain decline of Manns common school ideals and newly
inspired confidence in scientific management in that era and states:
In the twentieth century, the provision for equality of opportunity
was made a part of the school system through vocational guidance and a
differentiated curriculum. No longer did students receive an equal, or

common, education; rather, they received different education based on
individual differences. The race for social position was no longer to be a
function of the marketplace but of the scientific selection process in the
school, (pp. 242-243)
Under the changing social conditions stated above, the progressive
educational movement that aimed for social reform, pervasively developed in the
early twentieth century. This tide of progressive education had been pluralistic,
often self-contradictory (Cremin, 1961, p. 22) from the very beginning right through
to its end in 195S. The advocates' diversity in pedagogical innovation and position
toward social and political progressivism had expanded the scope of educational
discussion, and also related schooling to industry, business, science, psychology and
other fields that had been considered as outside the field of education.
In the progressive education movement, some tailored programs were
proposed as responsive curricula in order to assist children with different abilities and
interests achieve better than under common curriculum. In other words, diverse
curricula were needed to prevent dropouts as well as to maximize childrens abilities
and life chances.
In the advocates of the progressive education movement, those who relied on
scientific management and regarded management of the industrial system as a key
to school reform had gradually moved their emphasis toward efficiency of
educational administration. The experts in this wave of the progressive movement,

who Tyack (1974) described as administrative progressives, took charge in making
educational administration more and more efficient. Educational programs were
recommended to be administered in an efficient and scientific way to level and
place students into certain specialized programs: gifted classes, ungraded class for
exceptional children, and vocational training programs.
The progressive reformers, who relied on pragmatic philosophy intended to
diffuse their pedagogy throughout the nation. They objected to schooling that was
alienated from childs sense, interest, real life, needs and intelligence. Dewey
attempted to avoid any imposed learning and school administration, but instead
insisted on learning, development of ideas and school administration in relation to
real problems, experiences and community. On this point, the prevalence of
vocational manual training programs in that era and the following centralization and
bureaucratization cannot be accepted by Deweyan standards. Although Dewey has
been included in the leaders of the progressive education movement, he had become
to take an independent or opposite position to the progressives approach which was
represented by the Progressive Education Association by the 1930s (Pulliam, 1978).
Dewey also took a flexible position toward equal educational opportunity by asserting
that compensatory programs might need to be initiated by the central administrative
leadership (Brick, 1993), which in a certain sense, may be contrasted with his own
position generally opposing centralized planning in education.

All in all, the complex elements of the progressive education movement
indicate that the two traditions from Jefferson and Mann cannot be observed in a
simply exclusive manner under the complex and transitional situations. Even in the
same reform movement, mixed motives complicate arguments regarding the goals and
methods of that movement The progressive education movement started in response
to the social changes and problems which did not seem to be resolved by Mannian
ideals for achieving common goals. The progressive reformers' practice added new
educational concept to the original Jeffersonian ideas, that meeting children's diverse
needs is maximizing their ability and life chances. In the process of the pervasive
movement however, the emphasis of the progressive education had been moved
toward the ideas in Manns trend. As Warren (1990) points out: Administrative
progressives, however, worked within that tradition by affirming the Maw of external
pressure articulated earlier by common school reformers (p. 75).
The ideals of Jefferson and Mann competed in the development of the
comprehensive high school in the early twentieth century. Some advocates of the
comprehensive high school stuck to the common school model, were challenged by
persons who wanted to manage schools according to business principles in an
efficient manner through implementing vocational education and high school
tracks. The controversy revolved around whether schools ought to have a common,
basic, or core curriculum at the beginning of secondary education. This point made

by the advocates of comprehensive high school seemed backward in terms of the
degree of commonality pursued, compared with the original ideas of Mann, because
American comprehensive high school actually had developed tracking systems
beyond core curriculum. However, it should be recognized that they demonstrated
resistance against the increasing social demand for a separated dual system with more
emphasis on vocational programs (Spring, 1994). That is, the comprehensive high
school model opposes the sorting function of schooling. All in all, the basic
orientation of common school movement that avoids dissimilarity among schools was
embodied in the comprehensive high school model in the Cardinal Principles of
Secondary Education (Butts & Cremin, 1953).
Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the one element of Jefferson's ideal that
recognizes access to further educational opportunity based on the meritocratic
selection was given certain degree of support in the progressive education movement
at the turn of the century. Jeffersons ideas also were reflected in the expectation that
equal access would lead itself, quite naturally, to unequal or meritocratic results. At
the same time, it is also fair to say that Manns common school ideal was deep-seated
in American public education even in a society that valued efficiency.
By mid-century, in the Civil Rights movement, the major issues focused on
the elimination of schooling discrimination. The ideal state that the movement finally
pursued was a public education that guarantees real equal access that guaranteed equal

attainment instead of the systematic arrangement of equal environments (Church,
1976). In this, Manns ideals of raising overall national excellence were alive even
after the post-Sputnik period when curriculum reform in math and science was carried
out through big, elite-oriented projects which reflected the Jeffersonian ideal (Cremin,
Neither of the two trends has dominated; rather, they have shaped different
conceptions of equality of educational opportunity in each age through debates and
controversies with each other. The waves of educational reform in the 1980s and the
following reforms in the 1990s illustrate this on-going interrelation between the two
trends. The first wave of educational reform in the 1980s focused on excellence that
called for centralized control and a standardized curriculum, whereas the second wave
focused on professionalization and restructuring that pursued flexible
individualized management and autonomy (Plank & Ginsberg, 1990). That is, the
ideas of Mann are embodied in the first wave; and those of Jefferson are embodied in
the second wave. Boyd (1990) contrasts this in terms of control versus autonomy,
both of which American education has pursued as competing values. They co-exist to
this day.
The standards-based trend in the 1990s has absorbed the ideas of
excellence movement, and todays school-choice trend shares with the second wave
the important component of autonomy for consumers. The idea of school choice has

gained support because it responds to the pressure for decentralization that has been
traditionally popular in the U.S. history (i.e., the Jeffersonian trend). On the other
hand, the choice movement faces the severe criticism that it will destroy the
democratic gains of access made in public education through the educational reform
movements of the 1950s and 1960s. The critics claim that todays advocates of
choice transform the issue of inequality to the issue of choice (Lowe & Miner,
1996). This cycle of reform, observed in the history of American education,
demonstrates that the two trends remain critical of each other and that reformers have
to try to balance the two competing values in pursuing integrated reforms.
Two Principles
Practical objectives, issues, and strategies of educational reform movements
are vulnerable to that ages social demand for education. However, as described
above, the main ideals of these two trends are neither transient nor specific to a
particular age in a particular society.
Green (1980) advances the two views on educational institutions across
societies, calling them the best principle and the equal principle. The best
principle shares Jeffersons ideal on the point of respect for individuality, while the
equal principle is quite similar to Manns ideal of the common school.
According to Green, the best principle clams a right to receive the individualized best

education for each child; on the other hand, the equal principle claims a right to
receive an equal education for everyone. Green points out that education generally
starts from the equal principle, shifts to the best principle in response to a societys
increasing demand for meeting diverse needs, and again pursues the equal principle
under the pressure caused by peoples dissatisfaction with an unequal distribution of
educational resources.
Kurosaki (1995), referring to Greens theory, argues that these two principles
are not mutually exclusive. Rather, he says, the power relations and theoretical
dynamics of both lead educational reform to a higher and more integrated level. The
point Kurosaki makes in discussing educational reform is new in Japan, since the
equal principle has been contrasted with the competition principle or ability-
centralism which are used in a negative sense for criticizing meritocracy (Horio,
Interpretation of Equality of Educational Opportunity
A series of events in the American Civil Rights Movement (1954-1974) and
the accountability movement which began in 1971 influenced arguments about equal
educational opportunity. By the 1970s, the original two trends from Jefferson and
Mann were no longer internally consistent. Through the use of courts as a strategy of
advancing educational reform, arguments about equal educational opportunity

required clear standards of equality and concrete means of implementation.
Ultimately, the demand for accountability made outputs of education a uniform
index of equality (Spring, 1993). Meanwhile, various interpretations derive from the
concept of equal educational opportunity.
Definitions and Indexes in Educational Litigation
Wise (1972), based on his review of courts decisions on educational finance
through the mid 1960s, presents nine presumable definitions of equality of
educational opportunity that the courts had employed or were asked to employ in
educational finance litigation:
1. The negative definition asserts that equality of educational opportunity
exists when a childs educational opportunity does not depend upon either parents
economic circumstances or the childs location within the state.
2. The full-opportunity definition claims that all persons are to be given
full opportunity to develop their abilities to their limit. Gardner (1961) represents this
3. The foundation definition requires minimum offerings, expressed in
dollars to be spent, which shall be guaranteed to every pupil. In the case that a
locality cannot supply that minimum offering at the state-mandated tax rate, the state
should make up the deficiency.

4. The minimum attainment definition asserts that resources shall be
allocated to every student until they reach a specified level of achievement.
5. The leveling definition asserts that resources should be allocated in
inverse proportion to students ability based on the assumption that students should,
as nearly as possible, leave school with an equal chance of success.
6. The competition definition says that educational opportunity is the
competition for access to educational resources and claims that educational resources
should be allocated in direct proportion to students abilities.
7. The equal-dollars-per-pupil definition is a one for one definition
which views differential allocation of resources according to ability as discriminatory
(Anderson & Foster, 1964).
8. The maximum-variance-ratio definition is an approximation to
equalization method of financing such as recapture, which allows a permissible
range of deviation from exact equality in expenditures.
9. The classification definition requires equality for all within a
classification based on the general idea of the equal treatment of equals. This
definition is employed on the assumption that students are to be offered specified
programs according to their specified or different characteristics.
Since Wises (1972) study sought to list all possible definitions of equality
of educational opportunity, the criteria employed in his classification of definitions

reflect different perspectives rather than plausible measures in educational finance.
For instance, the full-opportunity and competition definitions, since neither has been
referred to in the courts decisions, do not provide any realistic means for addressing
inequality, but reflect ideological and social perspectives transmitted to that age. On
the other hand, the foundation definition, the minimum-attainment definition, the
equal-dollars-per pupil definition, and the maximum-variance-ratio definition present
practical procedures and strategies in educational finance to narrow gaps in
educational expenditures among school districts. The choice of these strategies
depends upon the extent to which a given legislature values local control. The
leveling definition and the classification definition indicates specialized ways to
allocate resources on the premise that the distribution of resources can be decided out
of concern for local control. These two definitions are embedded in arguments
calling for compensatory educational programs. The negative definition is originally
different from the other definitions because it only provides a legal basis to what is to
be defined as the unequal condition by the court, which accordingly does not
present any practical way of financial distribution. Therefore, the negative definition
was succeeded by the principle of fiscal neutrality (Coons, Clune III, & Sugarman,
Among the nine definitions, the minimum-attainment definition and the
leveling definitions are concerned with outputs from students, while the others argue

various styles of input as a means to offer equal educational opportunity. In 1972,
Wise himself supported the negative definition and also presumed that courts would
be likely to employ the negative definition.
Shiraishi (1996), reviewing the history of educational finance litigation,
categorizes the decisions of the cases concerned with educational finance after the
1970s in terms of what kind of definition of equal educational opportunity has been
employed by the court. The decisions are categorized into four patterns. The first
pattern is based on Wises negative definition (e. g., Serrano I v. 5 Cal.. 1971).
The second pattern is that court admits the insignificant differences of educational
expenditure among school districts (e. g., Serrano II v. 18 Cal., 1976). The third
pattern is that the court regards minimum basic programs as the basis for equal
opportunity (e. g., San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. 1973).
The fourth pattern is that the court is concerned with students attainment as an index
of equal educational opportunity (e. g., Robinson v. Cahill IVII. 1973-1976).
Shiraishis categorization indicates four different perspectives in the style of
dichotomy in dealing with courts decisions regarding equal educational opportunity:
first, whether or not the court involves choice of a specified finance system in its
decision; second, whether or not a courts decision focuses its attention on the
maximum offering of educational resources (in some cases allows insignificant
difference); third, whether or not a court deals with the adequacy of minimum

offering of educational resources; and, last, whether or not a court is concerned with
output in education.
Both Wise (1972) and Shiraishis (1996) review look at the courts decisions
and social conditions after the Civil Right Movement Accordingly, they do not refer
to the historical background of the arguments about equal educational opportunity.
Despite their ahistorical approaches, their methods of classification of the courts
decisions present a few useful indexed to discern arguments originating from
Jefferson and those from Mann; that is, Jeffersons ideal is concerned with input,
while Manns ideal is concerned with output. Moreover, the studies of both Wise and
Shiraishi suggest that claiming maximum or minimum segments the issues, which
explains how the two trends have been segmented in the twentieth century.
Principles of Equal Educational Opportunity
Gutmann (1987) advances interpretations of equal educational opportunity as
possible guiding principles by elaborating some major interpretations in a more
consistent manner, because, she as a political philosopher, is conscious that a more
systematic and sustained analysis is required to develop a clear and defensible
standard (p. 128). Gutmanns study is useful because she is concerned not only with
making criteria consistent but also setting the level of criteria neither so abstract nor
so specific. Gutmann poses three considerations: (a) what resources a democratic

state should devote to primary schooling rather than to other social ends, (b) how
those resources should be distributed among children, and (c) how children should be
distributed among and within schools.
Gutmann reviews four major types of interpretation of equal educational
opportunity as guiding principles for legislative decision makings.
1. Maximization has the same meaning as Wises the full-opportunity
definition. Maximization is the most liberal interpretation that The liberal state
should devote as many resources to primary schooling as necessary, and distribute
those resources, along with children themselves, in such a way as to maximize the life
chances of all its future citizens (p. 128). Gardner represents this interpretation and
explores a popular defense in Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too
2. Equalization is the principle that enough money should be spent on
education so that the life chances of the least advantaged are raised up to those of the
most advantaged. Fishkin (1983) and Rawls (1971) stand for this principle and argue
about the proper manner of the distribution of educational resources to overcome all
environmental and natural causes of differential educational attainment.
3. Meritocracy is the principle that money for education should be
distributed according to ability and desire to learn. Gutmann points out that
meritocracy, in spite of its popularity in the society, is not recognized in its full

meaning that meritocracy must provide those children with relatively few natural
abilities and little inclination to learn with the fewest educational resources and the
least educational attention, and those children with the greatest natural abilities and
motivation with the most. A meritocratic distribution of educational resources,...
would give educationally gifted children what they deserve and also give society what
it needs: a greater pool of human capital to increase social productivity (p. 134).
4. Democratic threshold principle is Gutmanns own preferred
interpretation of equal educational opportunity. Gutmann defines this principle as
that sufficient resources should be provided to all children to develop an ability
adequate to participate in the democratic process; after that, extra money can be
spent on children with greater intellectual ability.
Gutmann criticizes the principle of maximization for its moral ransom
over society. To Gutmann, this principle involves so wide a scope of social life that it
actually suggests that citizens should give up everything they value for the sake of
education. To Gutmann, the principle of equalization provides a more realistic
method of distribution of schooling compared with what the principle of
maximization suggests, since equalization is the argument within school finance that
says nothing about how much a state should spend on education relative to other
goods. The problem the principle of equalization poses, Gutmann argues, is the
possible increase of government intrusion into daily lives which is likely to threaten

one of the important liberal ideals, individual family's autonomy. She also claims
that equalization could be interpreted as minimizing the variance among educational
attainments, which would require elimination of all differences in cultural,
intellectual, and emotional dispositions. She regards such a situation not only as
undesirable but impossible. Meritocracy is rejected completely by Gutmann for the
reason that it is undemocratic, especially for average and be low-average students.
Gutmann, in her rationale for rejecting equalization, recognizes the importance of
admitting differences in human potential and also finds an inclination of society to
value meritocracy. In order to resolve problems posed by both principles of
equalization and meritocracy, Gutmann explores a moral guide, the democratic
threshold principle. Although it is difficult to define threshold, this principle is
proposed as a way to integrate meritocracy with equalization in achieving equal
educational opportunity.
Over the last few decades, as part of the process of educational reform
movements, actual standards of educational investment and clear indexes of program
outcome have been demanded both by advocates and taxpayers. Maximum or
minimum offering as well as maximum or minimum attainment have been considered
as critical points of the issue. They are discussed as reference for financial decision

making rather than from philosophical standpoints. The emphasis and focus had
already been moved to more segmented points compared with the former discussion
between the Jeffersonian and Mannian trends, in which the overall orientation of
reform movement had been taken seriously.
Gutmann as a political philosopher reevaluated the deep-seated and the lately
discussed principles of equal educational opportunity. The four guiding principles
which Gutmann categorized were maximization, equalization, meritocracy, and
the democratic threshold principle. Gutmann revealed some hidden and avoided
meaning and interpretation of the each principle in discussing resource distribution,
while she analyzed and evaluated each of them from the view of moral impact.
Gutmann finally recommended the democratic threshold principle as a moral guide as
well as a reasonable solution to the problems the other three principles were assumed
to cause.
Model of Equality of Educational Opportunity:
Four Types of Interpretation
In this section, a model of equality of educational opportunity is proposed
based on a critical synthesis of the historical review and the literature review in the
preceding sections. The knowledge generated from the reviews indicates several
points and variables against which to develop a systematic model that can be applied
to various educational settings.

The critical point causing remarkable differences between the two major
trends of education reform ( Jefferson and Mann) is what they consider as an index of
equality. As reviewed earlier, the trend from Jefferson places emphasis on input,
while the trend from Mann is concerned with equal output. The review of education
finance litigation reveals useful dichotomies for examining broadly divided arguments
about equal educational opportunity. The model here is comprised of four types of
interpretation of equal educational opportunity.
Arguments about equality of educational opportunity are classified into two
groups by index of equality; the group discussing input as the index of equality
and group considering output as the index of equality. Each group (input-based,
output-based) is further divided into two types of argument by its orientation to
maximum or minimum when arguing input or output.
Argument type
Index of equality of educational opportunity
Minimum provision (minimum input)
maximum provision (maximum input)
minimum attainment (minimum output)
maximum attainment (maximum output)
Figure 2.1.

That is, the input-based argument group is classified into two sub -argument types:
maximum provision of educational resources or minimum provision. In the same
way, the output-based argument group is divided into two types: maximum attainment
of students or minimum attainment (see Figure 2.1).
Maximum means to devote full resource and educational concern, while
minimum is not used to indicate the least resource and concern but to contrast with
maximum. Consequently, minimum actually means that resource and
educational concern are given to a certain extent
As the historical review of educational reform shows, education reformers
who attach great importance to individuality take it for granted that students leave
school with various levels of life chances according to their ability as long as students
have been given enough input defined within a given system. Accordingly, they do
not recognize equal output as an index of equal opportunity. It contrasts sharply with
the idea of reformers who focus on raising the overall level of educational
performance, which is to be evaluated by output from the program. Preferring
minimum to maximum involves two complex discussions which take place in
both arguments. First, sorting or selection becomes necessary in determining how and
on whom extra resources should be spent. Second, discussion of adequacy is
needed for determining both a minimum foundation program (input-based argument)
and minimum attainment (output-based argument).

Determining the minimum is likely to be politicized or affected by a short-
term demand from society. Wise (1976) criticizes the idea of a minimum foundation
program for the reason that it threatens the quality of education programs on the
premise that educational expenditures correlated with quality of education.
On the other hand, referring to maximum input or output indicates
substantial differences between the two groups. In the input-based argument,
maximum input does not mean providing equal input to all but proposes to provide
maximum individualized input to maximize an individual students life chance
according to her/his ability. In the output-based argument, maximum output seeks to
make the attainment of all students as equal as possible, spending the maximum of
defined educational resources. This difference, as Green (1980) calls best principle
and equal principle, highlights differences in ideas about the very purpose of
The four types of argument can be framed within Gutmanns (1987)
classifying system for interpretation of equal educational opportunity. Although
Gutmann does not employ criteria of maximum or minimum in her classification
process, the following correspondence is useful to generate ideal types of
interpretation of equal educational opportunity which can be applied across societies.
Interpretation of equal educational opportunity based on minimum input is called
meritocracy. Maximization calls for maximum individualized input. Referring to

minimum output is a prerequisite for democratic threshold principle. Equalization
requires maximum equal output.
The input-based argument is apparently free from the pressure of rigid
regulation that demands to present overall results of education programs on a
common basis. Beyond foundation programs, meritocracy entrusts competition in
distribution of schooling, and maximization regards promotion as the key to various
problems of distribution of schooling. The principle of equalization and the
Democratic threshold principle necessitate regulation in implementation.
Meritocracy and maximization, in contrast, turn away from rigid regulation.
In the two types of output-based argument, the Democratic threshold
principle needs a certain level of selection, sorting, or tracking at the point of the
threshold. But when looking beyond the threshold, more flexibility can be allowed
compared with the equalization process. The model comprised of the four types of
interpretation is presented below (Figure 2.2).

minimum input
Input -based argument
(Jeffersons ideal)
Output-based argument
(Manns ideal)
maximum individualized ------- Maximization
minimum output ----------------- Democratic threshold
maximum equal output ------------- Equalization
Figure 2.2 Model of equality of educational opportunity
This model for interpreting equality of educational opportunity is to be used
in the survey research administered in Japanese high school setting. Hereafter, in this
study throughout the chapters on Japanese education, methodology, analysis and
discussion, the terms representing the four concepts in the model (presented as Figure
2.2) that was developed for this study, Meritocracy, Maximization, Democratic
threshold principle, and Equalization will be capitalized in order to distinguish them
from Gutmann's original use and general terms such as meritocracy.

A synthesis of the preceding reviews and the concepts relating to the equality
of educational opportunity that are presented in this chapter is shown as Figure 2.3.

What to guarantee Two traditions in the U.S. Degree of input/output to be guaranteed
What to argue Two trends of education reform In distributing schooling
(Four principles)
Synthesis and summary of concepts presented in Chapter 2
with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

In the previous chapter, based on the historical review of American
education, it became clear that reform orientation in the field of education is deeply
associated with the concept of equality of educational opportunity. The equality of
educational opportunity model was also explored, based on historical and critical
review of American educational reform, financial litigation, and Amy Gutmanns
study, which is to be applied for empirical study in Japanese high school setting.
This chapter moves toward the review of Japanese education from a reform
orientation. In the first section, the history of Japanese education is examined from
the view of how reform has been attempted in Japan's postwar society. After
reviewing the overall history of educational reform, high school reform will be closely
examined in terms of what problems Japanese high schools have had in the process of
universal expansion and how they have attempted to resolve these problems. In the
second section, how the equality of educational opportunity has been represented in
Japan is discussed to some extent in a comparative manner with the American
education. Before turning to an empirical study of recent high school reform, which
will be explained in the next chapter, four types of interpretation of the equal

educational opportunity that comprise the model of this study (Equalization,
Meritocracy, Maximization, and Democratic threshold principle) are applied to
aspects of the recent high school reform in Japan.
History of Reform Attempts in Postwar Japan
Shortly after World War II, Japan experienced a drastic educational reform.
The reform was initiated by the American Occupation which aimed to democratize,
demilitarize, and decentralize Japanese society (Nishi, 1982). Therefore, substantial
changes took place along the lines of the American model in the whole educational
system. Among them, swift and radical changes were made in governmental control
style and in the organization of the school system. Central government control was
limited by transferring power from the centralized Ministry of Education (MOE) to
local communities through locally elected boards of education. The multi-tracked
prewar school system was transformed into a unified single-tracked egalitarian 6-3-3-
4 system (providing for six years of elementary education, and three years of junior
high school to complete compulsory education, plus three years of senior high school,
and four years of college education).
The conservatives in Japan considered those changes as too radical or not
suited for Japanese society, and they started reassessment and re-reform of the
post-war system as soon as the Occupation left in 1952 (Shimahara, 1979). From

that point to the mid-1990s, the basic style of debate on educational reform in Japan
has been fixed; that is, re-reform attempts pushed by the conservatives were resisted
by the progressives led by Nikkyoso (Japan Teacher Union) which claims that the
re-reform attempts were nothing but a reverse course toward the pre-war system
which represented elitism and militarist abuse (Ota, 1989; Thurston, 1973).
The actual procedure of government-led educational reform is that the MOE
takes initiatives in response to the recommendation report of the Central Council on
Education (CCE), established as a permanent MOE advisory body in 1952. The
MOE, CCE, conservative policy-makers, and big, organized business had maintained
a harmonious relationship since the 1950s (Park, 1975). Accordingly, ideological
opposition of the Japan Teacher Union became increasingly stiff in the 1960s and
1970s (Duke, 1973). Ota (1989), recognizing this tension as the cause of poor
discussion and negative effects of the attempts at educational reform, states that, in
the course of the all-out battles between Nikkyoso (Japan Teacher Union) and the
Ministry of Education, little consideration has been given to the education of
children; educational questions have been subordinated to the issue of control (p.
The debates centered on democratic control and egalitarianism of schooling
until the mid-1980s (Schoppa, 1991). Among them, controversy over the control
system was almost settled in the governments favor. The election system of local

school board members was replaced with an appointment system by prefectual
governors and mayors in the 1950s. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education succeeded
in re-establishing national control over textbooks and academic standards
(Beauchamp, 1991). Nevertheless, the school system as well as in-school
administration have remained egalitarian up to the present.
In the 1950s, the business community began to express dissatisfaction with
the democratic-egalitarian system and called for an educational system meeting the
needs of industry and the future society, which, in effect, appealed for emphasis on
vocational education to increase trained scientists, technicians, and specialized
workers. In the1960s, the government put forward an argument about the
development of human resources by referring to a direct relationship between
national long-term educational planning and economic growth (Yamazaki, 1986).
That argument, called man-power policy is based on the idea that education is
investment (Shultz, 1961). Man-power policy became one of the main elements of
the income-doubling plan Prime Minister Ikeda embarked upon in 1960. The
diversification campaign in education, started in the 1950s, had been continuously
advocated in the 1960s under social pressure to achieve the income-doubling plan.
This campaign called for diversification of high schools in particular. In accordance
with the man- power policy, not only vocational track in high school education but
also development of high talent in technology in higher education was focused on

in the 1960s, and therefore, lively discussion about elite education was provoked
between the government and the business community (Pempel, 1978).
However, several measures taken by the MOE eventually did not succeed in
bringing about any fundamental changes in the egaritalian structure of postwar
education (Schoppa, 1991). Attempts such as special high schools for those talented
in mathematics and science never became popular. Elite education has never been
implemented. Despite the MOEs push and support, enrollment in vocational
technology courses at the high school level did not expand as much as the rapidly
rising rate of enrollment in academic course. In 1971, the Central Council on
Education issued a report that called for a third educational reform (referring the Meiji
Restoration as the first reform and the postwar reform as the second) and presented
comprehensive recommendations for a large-scale reform (CCE, 1971). This report
pointed out the serious sequences of excessively standardized education and
centralized control and stressed the importance of diversification of the system and
deregulation. Although this report presented an important outline leading to the
reform movement in the 1980s and recommended detailed programs, it was actually
shelved under social pressure for comprehensive expansion. In a word, the changes in
the 1960s and the 1970s were only incremental quantitative expansion.
The causes of failure in promoting diversification in the educational system
as an official policy can be identified as follows. In the first place, the MOE's moves

were met by the fierce ideological opposition from the Japan Teacher union. The
union opposed any differentiated system or treatment in schooling as discriminatory
or as a dangerous reverse course toward the pre-war system. Second, parents have
supported the egalitarian structure of the postwar system (Schoppa, 1991). These two
actors athtitudes were effectively interrelated. That is, when attacking the
governments initiatives such as the diversification policy and the man-power policy,
the strategy of the teacher union was to claim that the administration those policies
would adopt was discrimination(Kariya, 1995), which actually appealed to parents
who were eager to gain access to higher-level education for their children. Kuroha
(1994) points out that parents know that under the man-power policy, students
choices are to be apportioned between the limited number of high-talent courses and
the many vocational tracks.
The egalitarian system that has preserved by several historical and social
background described above ended up promoting an excessive emphasis on academic
credentials and competitive selection. This is because students and their parents have
attempted to make differences in educational attainments when egalitarian
compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen. After completing compulsory
education, students were sorted by examination score and ranked by which school
they were to attend in the structure of school stratification (Beauchamp, 1978).
Moreover, the educational credentials, especially the prestigiousness of the university

they graduate from was perceived to determine lifetime success, and therefore the
competition for top-ranked high schools and prestigious universities was heated...
the so-called examination hell.
In the 1980s, a sense of crisis began to dominate the field of education and
public talk about education. In the media, so-called educational problems such as
school violence, bullying, youth suicides, and increasing high school dropouts
appeared every week and they were attributed to the inflexible system of Japanese
education and its by-product, severe entrance examinations. Picken (1986) describes
the tide of public concern with education reform as follows: Since the late 1970s,..
within Japan, there has been growing concern which in the early 1980s developed into
a sense of crisis that Japan's educational system was meeting only some needs of a
changed society and was itself in need of an overhaul at the earliest possible moment
(p. 59).
In 1984, Prime Minister Nakasone established the Ad Hoc Council on
Education (AHCE) as an advisory body to the Prime Minister. At the outset, AHCE
was expected to propose innovative ideas to carry out a substantial reform and present
effective programs to solve various problems at school, which CCE had not attained
in the postwar period (CCE, 1972). AHCE identified the following major problems
that needed urgent resolution, (a) excessive competition for university entrance
examinations, (b) problem behavior and lack of discipline among young people, and

(c) uniform and inflexible structures and methods of formal education that are not
responsive to student diversity (MOE, 1989). This meant that the system providing
for all the students the same curriculum, the same courses, and the same chance of
taking the examination no longer worked to motivate youth, rather functioned only to
heat entrance examinations because it was considered to be the only means of
making a difference in their lives.
Although AHCE issued a series of reports and aroused heated discussions in
the nation, the final reform proposals resulted in ideas about changes at the program
level without fundamental change in the grand design of education, including the
system, goals, and policies (Schoppa, 1991; Ichilawa, 1990). One of the main causes
of unsuccessful discussion on reform at the system level was that the subcommittees
within AHCE did not reach a consensus about liberalization of education, although
liberalization had been recognized as the key issue of AHCE projects. It was
widely recognized that deregulation measures were needed for Japanese education,
but the members within AHCE as well as within the conservative camp did not
determine about the extent to which Japanese education could be liberalized when
actually faced with fundamental decisions such as school and parental choice
(Nishio,1985). Because school choice and parental choice in public schooling are of
quite different concepts from those of uniformed educational administration,
Therefore, the issue of school and parental choice in the public sector was blocked,

which only provoked the left-wings opposition. Private schooling was given a
positive evaluation by AHCE.
Liberalization was finally replaced with the term respecting individuality
in the discussion at AHCE. The idea that existing schooling is to be reconstructed
into a more diversified, more flexible and less egalitarian system has been reinforced
through the AHCE period and CCE projects which so far have succeeded in
implementing some AHCE proposals. However, AHCE proposals did not clearly
present what sort of philosophy would replace egalitarianism in referring to equality
of educational opportunity as an official policy. Meanwhile, several projects based on
AHCE proposals have been implemented: new types high schools, exceptional
measures for talented students in math and physics, and six-year secondary schools
have been established as new models, exceptions, and experimental projects
before the philosophical issues have been resolved. It will take more time to know
whether these measures at project level will transform the deep-seated egalitarian
nature of postwar education.
High School Reform
Shortly after World War n, Japanese high schools started following the
American comprehensive high school model. The American model required three
principles: a small school district, comprehensive schooling, and co-education.

However, it was difficult for Japanese society in the immediate postwar era to
implement this high school schooling model while observing these three principles.
In short, at that time, it was impossible to run one comprehensive school in each small
district, financially as well as geographically. Thus, that system diminished in the
1950s. Only co-education became popular among the three principles.
Although the three principles had been abandoned very early, a basic
principle for high school schooling that could replace the three principles had not
been settled. The MOE did not clarify the critical points, who attends, and what
should be taught at Japanese high schools. Various problems have been caused by
the very fact that Japanese high schools belong to none of the following categories:
compulsory, comprehensive, or selective. The MOE attempted to establish an
original model for the Japanese high school, but eventually gave way to societys
demands. In other words, it was the rapidly rising enrollment rate that actually
determined the directions of high school reform. The MOE had been pressed by the
necessity to increase and expand general academic high schools until the mid 1980s.
As for the question of who attends, the MOE still held an image of
selective high school schooling in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, they attempted to
rely on a concept derived from the man-power policy that students should be sorted
and selected according to national planning (Kuroha, 1994). However, the MOE had
to give priority to ensuring place for increasing numbers of applicants, over planned

selection and sorting, because the high school enrollment rate which was 40 percent
(of junior high graduates) at the beginning, went up to 70 percent in the mid 1960s, to
80 percent in the early 1970s, and finally beyond 90 percent in 1974. Along with this
rapid expansion, the government only had no choice but to support high school
education by establishing more and more schools, both in the public and private
In the process of quantitative expansion, the movement which advocated free
admission for high school took place. The MOE, responding to that movement led by
the Japanese Teacher Union, presented a qualification principle in 1964 which
allowed selection of students by entrance examination even when the number of
applicants was less than the number to be admitted (Hishimura, 1995). This meant
that support for increasing the number of high schools is one thing, and discussion on
free admission or compulsory high school education is another issue. As a result,
entrance examinations heated student competition, and schools became completely
stratified throughout the nation. The MOE and many local governments took
measures to cool the heated competition in the public sector such as the school
grouping system, in which students could not choose a school but had to choose
grouped high schools in taking entrance examinations. This policy eventually brought
about a radical shift to private schooling after the late 1960s (Hishimura, 1995;
Rohlen, 1983). Lately, the attendance rate has reached 95 percent (application rate is

beyond 98 percent), which indicates that high school schooling is now universal in
spite of the qualification principle.
With respect to what should be taught in high school, the MOEs
initiatives and subsequent results followed a similar path to the principle about who
attends mentioned above. At the beginning, the high school curriculum was
composed of minimum core subjects (38 credits) and elective subjects (47 credits),
following the comprehensive school model. In 1956 and I960, the national
curriculum was changed to a more fixed and uniform one; core subjects reached 74
credits out of 85. The main idea underlying this curriculum change was that high
school students need unbiased, broad intellectual knowledge (Hishimura, 1995;
Nakashima, 1990). This idea fits the condition of selective high school schooling.
However, contrary to the intent of this uniform curriculum change, the actual
achievement of high school students had become increasingly unsatisfactory to the
MOE and educators. It was said generally from the 1970s on that seven high school
students out of ten did not achieve what the curriculum defined (Ichikawa, 1990).
In response to the CCEs 1971 proposal calling for a more flexible system,
and the proposal report issued by the MOEs committee for curriculum development
in 1976, the national curriculum did attempt to become more flexible for the diverse
student body. The national curriculum, revised in 1979, presented reasonable
deregulation measures that allowed choice in course design at the school level and in-

school grouping by achievement- However, by that time, the university-level entrance
examinations had become excessively heated and most high schools only focused on
preparation for the examination. Therefore, very little change actually was observed
at the high school level (Hishimura, 1995).
Besides the pressure caused from the selection system in the society, Amano
(1995) presents one assumption to answer the question why Japanese high school had
been resistant to change into more flexible style before the 1990s. Referring to
Rohlens fieldwork (1983) in some Japanese high schools, Amano argues that the
critical difference between the American comprehensive high school and Japanese
traditional high school comes from a difference in cultural values. In the U.S.,
students are considered little adults while in Japan, students are big children.
Therefore, Amano believes that American students are required to choose the way of
student life on their own responsibility while Japanese students are under schools
regulation and control.
Although the proposal of the Ad Hoc Council for Education reform did not
change the overall system of schooling, several reform projects have now been put
into practice within high school education. The Central Council for Education which
picked up the AHCE issues, proposed several plans for high school reform in its 1991
report. The special feature of these reform projects is the establishment of a new-
type high school in which a mix of specialized as well as comprehensive courses are

provided to meet the needs and interests of students. This project is being promoted
by various local governments with the national government's support to develop
individuality of high school. In some traditional schools, the curriculum is made
more flexible by establishing programs with an emphasis on fields such as foreign
language, international study, and social welfare. This policy of respecting
individuality at the school level is being promoted through the introduction of a
credit system. Several measures have been proposed to alter the entrance
examination system for both high school and university, but to date this has been very
resistant to change.
Therefore, it should be noted that current high school reform projects
actually are being carried out in the direction of deregulation. This is quite in contrast
with the history of the past twenty years, in which ideas of educational flexibility and
deregulation were effectively opposed both by educators and parents.
Before the 1980s, discussion on educational reform in Japan had been
limited to pros and cons regarding the government's initiatives to change any small
detail of in the postwar system, or concerning the introduction of the economic and
business demands to the field of education. These issues were regarded as dangerous,
threatening the equality of opportunity that postwar education had aimed to guarantee,

which actually meant egalitarianism. It was after entering the 1980s that discussion
on educational reform started to approach from the realistic viewpoint of what action
and means were necessary to resolve the problems that were now appearing.
High school education had also been left to its quantitative expansion and
incremental changes in administration. Consequently, by the mid 1980s, high school
schooling that provided every student with the same rigid academic input had become
critically problematic and had turned out to be in need of reform. The high school
reform projects had started with a high level of priority in the government-led
educational reform in the 1990s.
Equality of Educational Opportunity in Postwar Japan
The previous sections reviewed how reform attempts have been initiated and
then shelved, and also described how in most cases, those which have been
implemented were done so incrementally as the demand arose. The concept of
equality appeared to be a key factor in determining the direction of post war
education, throughout the review. In this section, social, cultural, and ethical
condition within postwar education and its system will be examined from the
perspective of equality of educational opportunity. In addition, an attempt will be
made to analogize the history of Japanese education using Jeffersonian and Mannian
trends in the U. S.

After the postwar reform initiated by the American Occupation, equality of
educational opportunity has come to be represented only by the strict form of
egalitarianism in Japanese society. Although article HI of the Fundamental Law of
Education provides that all people shall have the right to receive an equal education
corresponding to their ability, it has been left vague in public discussions what the
term ability means, and consequently, educators have focused only on equal
education at school. Therefore, it became the dominant idea that formal primary and
secondary schooling ought to provide all students with the same content and learning
conditions in the same track throughout the nation. This tendency, as stated in the
preceding sections, went to an extreme due to the tension between the Japan Teacher
Union and the conservative camp. Takakura (1996) argues that As Japanese society
has concentrated its attention on the expansion of equal educational opportunity,
people tend to identify equality with uniformity, consequently they have gradually
regarded the idea of education according to ones ability as taboo (p. 6).
The strict egalitarianism developed in the postwar period is secured by many
administrative, political, social, and historical conditions of Japanese society. In the
first place, the central administration of Japanese education makes national uniformity
possible (Ichikawa, 1991). Several measures have been taken to maintain equal

opportunities in education under the governments leadership and responsibility
shared with prefectual and municipal government. National laws and regulations
have institutionalized the nature of education and maintained standards, including
contents to be taught, time to be spent on and activities at school. Differences
between local entities due to financial inequalities have been minimized by
governments general grants to local public entities in accordance with their financial
needs. In addition to these measures, half of the salary expenditure for educational
personnel at compulsory schools is provided by the national government, based on the
standard salary scale prescribed by the national government.
Second, as described in the preceding sections, egalitarian ethics at Japanese
schools have been exaggerated by the political power of the Japan Teacher Union
which protests any diversification campaign initiated by the national government.
The third condition, which comparative studies make apparent, are the characteristics
of Japanese society. Among them is the most critical feature that ethnicity, language,
class, and their associated cultures are homogeneous. Therefore, students readiness
for study does not vary so widely because of their relatively similar family
background and economic condition (Ichikawa, 1995).
In addition to these social environments, some comparative researchers
points out the impact of maternal involvement with a childs education (Feinberg,
1993; White, 1987). Children start schooling and go through primary education with

their mothers support at home and owe much to their mothers involvement in PTA
activities. This maternal involvement is expected regardless of their social status and
family background, and which eventually pressed schools to avoid any differentiated
treatments among their children. This demand for egalitarian treatment in schools,
which is actually carried out in egalitarian way, eventually functions to encourage
Japanese mothers to invest more in their children. Hussein (1992) states In Japan,
potential is viewed as egalitarian; everyone has it but some people work harder to
develop it than others. Consequently, the Japanese mother believes that her child
harbors the potential for unlimited success (p. 10). This tendency flows throughout
the nation regardless, of area differences.
The fourth condition which promoted the egalitarian expansion of education
grew from the historical background of the 1960s and 1970s. The high-degree of
economic growth accelerated parents demand for universal access to educational
opportunity beyond compulsory schooling, because most parents could afford to put
their children through high school in the 1970s.
The fifth factor supporting egalitarian schooling has been the Japanese
cultural values underlying the concept of ability. As mentioned previously, a concept
of ability is critical in various decisions in education. It affects policy makers in
designing blueprints for schools as well as teachers in dealing with their students
through course design, grouping, and tracking. In Japanese education, it is often

pointed out by foreign scholars that Japanese educators neglect innate ability
differences in administrative decisions and classroom management; rather, they put
emphasis on effort, collaboration, and perseverance of students as well as on
harmony of the group (Blinco, 1991; Cummings, 1980; Iwama, 1989; Singleton,
1989). This tendency has been explained from an anthropological perspective,
suggesting that Japanese people maintain a group-oriented society in which individual
outcomes from a small number of high-ability individuals are less valued compared
with the collective results of cohesive group members (Shimahara, 1979). White
(1987), based on her fieldwork, states:
Differences in ability may produce serious discomfort where social
cohesion must have precedence. Accordingly, social situations are carefully
structured to minimize obvious differences between students of the same
age, or superior ability shown by younger people in minimize individual
distinctions between individual students, (p. 78)
To sum up, two kinds of egalitarian management are observed in Japanese
schooling. One is to encourage students on the assumption that differences in innate
ability are small enough that they can be overcome by effort. The other is to take
measures to minimize differences within a school and between schools, such as
preference of school stratification over tracking in the school on high school level
(Vogel, 1971).

Meritocratic Nature of Japanese Educational System
In spite of the standardized administration system and the egalitarian culture
prevailing in public schools, Japanese education can be described as extremely
meritocratic when viewed in terms of selection policies and the examination system.
Shields (1992, p. 331), after reviewing the studies on Japanese education, claims,
"Schooling in Japan is a huge sorting machine characterized by meritocracy and
competition, a hierarchical and pyramidal structure with elite universities on the top,
and prestige differentiation on every level.
Two different views are presented regarding this meritocratic nature of
Japanese education. One is criticism for its competitiveness (Rohlen, 1983). In
domestic arguments, any problems in education such as bullying, adolescent suicide,
and dropping out are associated with the pressure and negative impact of heated
entrance examinations. The other view is a positive evaluation of the selection system
that Japanese selection system in education is a pure style of meritocracy (Amano,
1986; Vogel, 1979). This view argue that the examination system works in a
democratic and fair manner. Supporters believe that the prime requirement for
examination success is intellectual ability only; in this point, therefore, Japanese
system is far more equitable than that of the U.S. and some other Western countries in
which students from subordinated cultures are disadvantaged in access to the

examinations. In addition to this positive view as presented by comparative
researchers, fairly general agreement exists among Japanese parents that Japanese
people to approve of meritocratic competition of the examination system due to its
presumed fairness. Kuroha (1994), in this light, explains the reason why
comprehensive high schools established on a small district basis became less and less
popular in the postwar. He assumes that their thinking has been persistent on what
constitutes a good school among Japanese parents; that is, Japanese people think
that equality of educational opportunity can be attained through fair competition
among high-achievement students for admission to prestigious schools across
Public Egalitarianism and Private Meritocracy
As mentioned above, in Japan, two principles split in the field of education.
As an official policy, egalitarian measures are taken to manage public schools. Even
in the arguments about high school education that is outsides of compulsory
education, egalitarians have repeatedly criticized selection process and have insisted
on free-admission to public high school. On the other hand, the rise of private
schools and the expanding impact of informal institutions such as cram schools and
preparatory schools indicate that people feel that preparation for the entrance
examinations should be fulfilled through privately purchased advantage (James &

Benjamin, 1984). Informal educational institutions (private formal schools are
excepted here) have now become a big business market on which approximately one
percent of the Japanese gross national product is spent (New York State Education
Department, 1992).
Foreign scholars acknowledge this phenomenon and explain it by pointing
out the delicate collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as by
attributing it to Japanese parental attitudes that place human resource development
before raising living standards (Shields,1992). In other words, Japanese parents are in
the position of demanding more and more egalitarian chances for higher-level
educational opportunities for their children, and at the same time are investing a large
amount of money for tuition in the private sector at the expense of their own material
Ichikawa (1990) explains this phenomenon in terms of interdependent
principles the public sector and private sector have formulated in Japan. He argues
that, despite that the two sectors take quite opposite directions in ideology, they are
actually dependent on each other. The private sector survives because the public
sector does not officially provide various services to meet the needs of meritocratic
examinations: the public sector can be egalitarian without parents' blame as long as
the private sector functions efficiently as a service agency to prepare for the serious
examinations outside public schooling.

The situation described above illustrates the one of the characteristics of
Japanese education, public egalitarianism and private meritocracy. Egalitarianism
has been pursued in the public sector, and meritocracy has been conceived as the
principle which people tackle as private and family concerns, through private
investment and dependence on various measures in the private sector.
Jeffersonian and Mannian Trends in Japan
The condition of public egalitarianism and private meritocracy is, as
mentioned above, interdependent like the opposite sides of the same coin. This is
quite different from the competing relation between the Jeffersonian and Mannian
trends in the U.S. society.
Postwar Japanese education shares critical values with Mannian ideals in
terms of the commonality pursued. In contrast, prewar Japanese education, the
system which was totally abolished after World War II, can be regarded as having had
some Jeffersonian elements. Before the war, Japan had maintained a layered and
multi-tracked system and attempted to develop educated leadership by offering more
and higher education to selected groups. The critical difference between this system
and the original Jeffersonian administration is that the principles of the prewar system
had not placed any values on individual choice.

Prewar education was severely criticized as undemocratic and elitist by
the progressives in the postwar era. The fatal blow to Jeffersonian elements of
Japanese education was that they had been always associated with the history of
militarist abuse and the regret that educators could not prevent schooling from taking
a militarist form in the years leading up to the war. Meanwhile, Jeffersonian ideas
have seldom been brought into public discussion, instead they have been regarded as
ideas supporting a dangerous reverse course.
On an individual level, the attitude that values personal academic
achievement and respects high educational background did not alter despite the
drastic changes. These attitudes and ethics which seem to be similar to Jeffersonian
ideas, survived outside the political debate on education. However, it should be
pointed out that sympathy with these attitudes had been contained within the private
sector or as a private concern, therefore never became a principle confronting the
egalitarianism in public education.
Application of the Four Types of Interpretation: Equality
of Educational Opportunity in the Recent High School
Reform in Japan
In this section, the recent government-led high school reform will be closely

discussed. The model of equality of educational opportunity that was developed in
the final part of Chapter 2 will be applied to several aspects of the high school reform.
The model is presented again below.
Input -based argument
(Jeffersons ideal)
Output-based argument
(Manns ideal)
minimum input
maximum individualized -------- Maximization
minimum output ----------------- Democratic threshold
maximum equal output ------------- Equalization
Figure 3.1 Model of equality of educational opportunity
As described in the preceding sections, the egalitarian principle of Japanese
education is now recognized as being no longer responsive to the diverse student
body in a rapidly changing society. Therefore several issues generated through efforts
to effect changes or by resistance seeking to preserve the existing schooling system in

the recent high school reform can be analyzed by applying the four interpretations of
equal educational opportunity. This analysis process was incorporated into the
development of the questionnaire used in the empirical study that will be introduced
in the next chapter.
Equalization Interpretation as Maximum Equal Output
Equalization interpretation defines maximum equal output as an index of
equality of educational opportunity. Equalization aims for student output that is not
only equalized but also raised as much as possible. In order to reach this state,
regulation should be required in any domain of education, such as school
administration, curriculum, and culture.
Egalitarianism in Japanese education can be regarded as a sort of
Equalization, although little argument has occurred about compensatory measures to
achieve maximum equal output from students in the nation. Because Japanese
society, as mentioned earlier, is far more homogeneous than the U.S. in terms of class,
living standards, family conditions, and community cultures, compensatory education
has rarely been an issue. In this homogeneous condition, egalitarian input to students
has gradually been expected to produce equal output from the students. As the
CCE (1997) points out, this expectation tends to restrict school administration.
Therefore, the universal demand for higher level educational opportunity that has

been continuously made in the postwar history is no less than maximum equal
In the one for one administration of a uniform school system, the issues of
compensatory education are not frequently discussed. Instead, problems are pointed
out only outside of the public education: childrens educational attainments are
affected by their parents additional expenditure on private education, and the parents
own educational background (Fujita, 1989).
Within egalitarian management, middle and standard students have been
the focus. Recently, high school reform projects have been sometimes criticized for
focus on top student or not raising bottom students (Ichikawa, 1995).
Therefore, it can be assumed that, in arguments over recent high school
reforms, the Equalization interpretation can be observed in egalitarian ideas which
have been transmitted as business as usual or in the criticisms that express
apprehension for the decline of standards in the trend toward a soft version of
instruction and curriculum.
Meritocracy Interpretation as Minimum Input
Meritocracy interpretation regards minimum input as an index of equality
of educational opportunity. Meritocracy allows selective competition beyond the

defined minimum input and evades regulation over the process of meritocratic
If the competitive selection and examination system in Japanese education is
assumed to be a state of Meritocracy, public formal schooling can be regarded as
minimum input, because it is pervasively perceived that normal public schooling is
not enough to compete in university entrance examinations. Stevenson and Baker
(1992) calls a set of educational activities that occur outside formal schooling
(including preparatory school, cram school, private tutoring and correspondence
courses) shadow education and found out from his synthesis of the several
longitudinal studies in the 1980s that eighty-eight percent of those students with
college plans participated in at least one activity of shadow education during high
school. Stevenson and Baker also determined that shadow education actually plays an
major role in providing students with crucially necessary information and knowledge
for deciding which university examinations they should take. Therefore, not only in
instruction but also as a guiding system, public formal schooling today is resigned to
minimum input.
In Japanese, a term which is regarded equivalent for meritocracy;
noryokusyugi (ability-centered principle). This translation has a negative
connotation that competition based on ability is evil, consequently, noryokusyugi
often has been employed in criticisms of government policies (Kurosaki, 1995). The

term is also used to oppose any differentiated treatment in school because
noryokusyugi gives students a sense of discrimination (Kariya, 1995).
It is difficult to introduce the concept of Meritocracy into government-led
high school reform that primarily focused on public schools without those sentimental
criticisms of noryokusyugi. Moreover, it seems more difficult to remove the idea of
public egalitarianism and private meritocracy. Accordingly it is also difficult to
assume that Meritocracy model would dominate in public high school education
through the current reform projects. For example, since the CCE criticized the
current tendency of monopoly of private six-year high schools in the University of
Tokyo in 1994, the appraisal of private schooling by AHCE in the 80s is officially
blocked. Consequently, Meritocracy has still been contained in the private sector as a
private concerns.
Maximization Interpretation as Maximum
Individualized Input
Maximization interpretation regards maximum individualized input as an
index of equality of educational opportunity. Maximization in the model for this
study denies uniformity in education and at the same time objects to the sorting
function of schooling. Maximization views that equality of educational opportunity
can be attained when maximum efforts, concern, and resources are devoted to
individuals to meet their diverse needs.

Maximization is an unpopular concept in Japanese education. Maximization
is originally weak in addressing administrative direction as Gutmann (1987) claimed,
moreover, concept of individualized input does not fit into the Japanese egalitarian
system. Although the recent trend of high school reform advocates respecting
individuality, it only reflects social consciousness that high school schooling should
get out of the tradition of uniformity. Accordingly, discussion over individuality is
not elaborated. For instance, the question whether individualization of schools is
equal to giving individualized chances and input to students, has not been discussed.
However, diversification of high school is likely to be supported in public discussion,
because diversification of public high school in the 1990s is, at least, recognized as
means to delete the obvious effects of meritocratic competition and school
stratification. In this sense, the diversification campaign in the 1990s is different
from that in the 1960s, because the current effort aims to transform the existing fixed
selection system, and the earlier effort tried to settle schooling as a social sorting
It is easily assumed that Maximization is praised as an ideal policy. The
concept, the best choice for the individual, is still difficult to interpret in a practical
manner within arguments over current reform. Extension of choice in choosing a
school as well as in designing ones own course within the school is close to the
concept of Maximization.

Democratic Threshold Interpretation as Minimum Output
The Democratic threshold principle interpretation regards minimun output
as an index of equality of educational opportunity. This model is primarily concerned
with the state of threshold by which equality of educational opportunity is verified to
be appropriately attained. Beyond the threshold presented by minimum output,
extra concern and resources can be spent on selected groups. In this interpretation,
Japanese schooling is considered to have reached the threshold by the existing
provision of public schooling.
The Democratic threshold interpretation is considerably easier to understand
by educators under the recent conditions of education reform in Japan. The MOE has
already started appointing a committee to discuss exceptional measures for talented
students in mathematics and physics. The Democratic threshold principle, as
Gutmann (1987) claims, originally aims to reform the conditions and systems of
education that are restricted by equalization policy by allowing some flexible
programs within a uniform or equalized system. This aim of educational reform is
similar to the condition of current high school reform in the 1990s. For example,
exceptional measures for talented students in mathematics and physics

indicate how the threshold is defined. The committee articulates that talent in these
two areas is so clear that educators can evaluate students talents in a straightforward
and unbiased manner, and that talent in these fields is difficult to develop outside of
formal schooling compared with talents in the other areas. In the same way, new-type
schools established less than five in a prefecture are easily accepted even by
egalitarians in so far as the schools are exceptional and experimental. The
problem is that how those measures and projects will be integrated and how the
criteria of threshold will be established in the process of reform projects.

As indicated in the preceding chapters, the critical theme of how equal
educational opportunity can be or should be interpreted in a rapidly changing society
has not been discussed or, in some cases, has been excessively politicized in Japan.
This lack of proper discussion has led this study to investigate how currently serving
high school principals perceive this theme and what they expect.
In the initial phase of high school reform in the 1990s, various assumptions
can be made about high school principals ideas and perceptions of administration and
high school reform. For example, it can be assumed that principals resist reform and
that the egalitarian tradition remains; it can also be assumed that high schools are in
the very process of drastic change towards breaking down the long-established
uniformity. On an important note, the way social educational institutions related to
the selection, sorting and public/private differences reflected on high school
principals perceptions should not be ignored.
This study does not rely upon certain hypotheses, rather it inquires into the
overall tendency and characteristics of high school principals' ideas and thinking that

have not been manifested through debate or heated discussion. Therefore, the survey
study was planned and prepared to examine the following points:
1. What do the high school principals regard, for the several domains of
education (input or output in educational administration), as being the ideal state and
how can their views be interpreted in terms of the concept of equal educational
2. How are their views of several domains or opinions regarding some issues
interrelated ? This actually looks at whether their views are consistent or not, across
issues and domains in the broad field of educational administration.
3. How are their views are related to social educational institutions in
Japanese society? In this study, the relation between the principals' views and their
schools' status, type of establishment (public/private) and its ratio of students who
intend to go on to university will be focused on.
4. What do the principals expect from the current high school reform
process? How do they consider high school reform should be undertaken? How do
they perceive the actual government-led reform in process and parents expectations
and demands on the reform? In addition, how are these ideas on educational reform
interrelated with their views of input or output of educational administration
(presented as 1 and 2)?

All in all, the model developed and presented in chapter 2 and partly applied
to the situation of recent high school reform in chapter 3 will be helpful in accounting
for the state of Japanese high schools, as well as for considering the equality of
educational opportunity as an authentic theme from a comparative perspective.
Survey Research
A self-administered mail questionnaire was conducted in November 1997.
The design of this questionnaire survey is observational without any arranged control
for the primary purpose and concerns of this survey study listed in the previous
section. Principals of all the full-time high schools in the Tokyo metropolis (230
principals of the public schools; 254 principals of the private schools) and Kanagawa
in Japan (182 principals of the public schools; 76 principals of the private schools)
were mailed a questionnaire with a cover letter (see Appendix A, page 211). Since
all the foil-time high schools were listed and were actually sent the questionnaire, no
arranged sampling process was undertaken.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan. The political, financial and administrative
divisions of the Japanese government are concentrated in Tokyo. This area,
consequently, is said to be the most competitive area in education. Since the late
1960s, a swift and extensive shift toward private schooling has been observed in
Tokyo. Kanagawa is a typically neighboring area of Tokyo, which is actually a

metropolitan area. There are not any significant socio-economic differences between
the two areas, which should be taken into account for survey design. Moreover, some
students living in Kanagawa go to private schools in Tokyo, and in some cases Tokyo
students go to private schools in Kanagawa. Thus, in the process of data processing
and analysis, Tokyo and Kanagawa will be dealt with the one subject area.
Among the 742 high school principals, 346 principals responded. The
response rate was 46.6 percent. Of the 346 responses, 16 could not be used as data
for various reasons. The details of the 330 respondents are shown below:
Table 4.1.
Respondents of the Questionnaire
All Public (national) Private
Total 330 198 (6)* 132
Tokyo 206 103 (6)* 103
Kanagawa 124 95 29
^National high schools are included in the category of public schools in this study.

Respondents were asked to provide some demographic information about
their schools; establishment, type of school in terms of provided courses and the
degree of difficulty of the entrance examination were asked. Subjects personal
background data were not collected, because it is obvious that high school principals
in Japan have quite homogeneous educational (certificate, degree, and promotion
qualifications) and personal (age range, almost all of them are male) backgrounds
under the current system of educational administration.
The main part of the questionnaire was devoted to an inquiry into the
subjects views of the several domains of educational and in-school administration as
well as their ideas on direction of high school reform, by which their preferred
interpretations regarding equality of educational opportunity would be examined. A
multiple choice format was adopted. Respondents were asked to choose one statement
which corresponds to what they consider the ideal state, among four choices. Each of
the four choices represents the four interpretations of equal educational opportunity in
the model developed for this study (refer to Figure 4.1).
Respondents were restricted to a single response. The order of the four
choices that appeared in the actual questionnaire is as follows; (a) Meritocracy as
minimum input; (b) Maximization as maximum individualized input; (c) Equalization

as maximum equal output; (d) Democratic threshold principle as minimum output, in
each question (This order is not the same as that presented in Figure 2.2. Compare
with the same Figure below).
minimum input
Input -based argument
(Jeffersons ideal)
Output-based argument
(Manns ideal)
' maximum individualized ------- Maximization
minimum output ----------------- Democratic threshold
maximum equal output ------------ Equalization
Figure 4.1, Model of equality of educational opportunity
The multiple choice format was adopted not only for the research subjects'
convenience but also for efficient data collection. The reason for not adopting a
ranking format or a rating format such as that generally applied to survey

measurement of values (Alwin & Krosnick, 1989) stems from the condition of
educational discussion in Japan. The arguments in Japanese education, as depicted in
Chapter 3, tend to be polarized or segmented even within the same school and
individual; argument as public policy versus real-world task, argument as professed
policy versus strategies in school administration, argument as the public sector versus
argument as private individual, and expectations from educators versus expectations
from parents. Consequently, the task of the ranking format, that is, placing the four
types of interpretation about one theme along a strict continuum is very likely to be
time-consuming for the subject principals.
In the same way, the rating format is also assumed to manifest the
disadvantage which the format potentially holds, when applied to this study dealing
with the complex discussion in Japan. Since the rating format is claimed to have a
drawback that ratings tend to fall within a rather restricted range of available scale
points when rated qualities are all considered good or socially observable as popular
rules (Feather, 1973), it can be presumed that the tendency of Japanese educational
discussion explained above should reinforce this disadvantage of the rating format.
Therefore, considering the intent of this survey study to examine differences between
the tendencies of supporting the four types of equal educational opportunity, the
rating format was also regarded as not suitable for this study.

As for the statistical data processing, the multiple choice format has a
weakness that the data from multiple choice questions only indicate frequency of
responses without any statistically meaningful relationship among each frequency of
given choices' responses, and accordingly that cannot be normalized for data analysis.
This study was able to overcome this statistical demerit of the multiple-choice format,
because the four choices are logically constructed by means of combining input
versus output and minimum versus maximum based statements (for details, see the
Analysis Method section in this chapter, page 116).
In this questionnaire, Japanese, the subject principals7 mother tongue was
used. Since it is important to provide four choices for one question item fairly, some .
rules of language were applied to develop the questionnaire. In addition to the
general rules regarding terms used in the questionnaire such as cautionary use of
vague qualifiers, cautionary use of abstract terms, and jargon, the following rules
were applied to the usage of terms in the questionnaire items in order to avoid giving
respondents preoccupied ideas:
1. Not to use terms which are obviously judged to be good or bad in Japans
educational discussion (e. g., Good: renovation; Bad: discrimination).
2. Not to deal with specific program, project, group or school.