Twentieth-Century American Education Reform in the Global Context

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 87, No. 4. 2012

Jennifer DeBoer


As detailed in the articles throughout this issue, the U.S. education system experienced a number of structural developments throughout the 20th century. These changes served to shift the landscape of decision-making authority in multiple areas of primary and secondary schooling. This article provides an international perspective on the changes undergone by the American system, painting a broad picture of where the trends in the United States’ educational system fit within changes worldwide. To best understand the possible implications of changes in the United States, I describe trends in educational centralization and decentralization in other nations, placing the American changes in a broader context shedding light on where education in the United States could be headed.