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Revealing and Examining Hidden Agendas

Policy Futures in Education
Call for Proposals
Elena Nitecki & Helge Wasmuth
(Un)intended Consequences in Current ECEC Policies:
Revealing and Examining Hidden Agendas
There are consequences to every policy and action. Robert Merton’s law of unintended
consequences (1936) warns against undesirable and unanticipated outcomes that often
accompany complex systems. More recent research (Zhao, 2018) has built upon the concept in a
current context. In some cases, these consequences appear unintended, an inconvenient side
effect of a policy, but are actually intended by those in power to benefit them, hence the term
“(un)intended.” Most (un)intended consequences are not written into policy but are the result of
how the policy translates into practice. This is the case in educational policies, both globally and
locally. Many agendas are hidden and some of the negative consequences are accepted or even
deliberate. It is not always obvious what drives decisions, as many statements or policies are
characterized by dissimulation and misdirection (Lafer, 2017). Thus, it is important to question
the real intentions, the (un)intended consequences and hidden agendas of such policies.
Educational policies on the global, national, and local level have resulted in several (un)intended
consequences (Moss, 2014; Sahlberg, 2016). In the field of Early Childhood Education and Care
(ECEC) specifically, these consequences include privatization, increased control over teachers,
narrowing the curriculum, attacks on teacher unions, de-professionalization, and exploitations of
workers (Wasmuth & Nitecki, 2017) – including, most recently, the expansion of questionable
standardized assessment tools and practices with young children (Urban, 2018). It is important
that the consequences of such policies – intentional and (un)intended – are analyzed. Some are
preventable; some are intentional, and some framed as unintentional side effects, but often
protect a hidden agenda, or at the very least, do not benefit children.
This Special Issue aims to engage with critical perspectives on educational policies in the field of
ECEC with the focus on revealing (un)intended consequences and hidden agendas. This can be
done on the global, national, and local level, analyzing how such policies and hidden agendas are
changing the field of ECEC. Such analyses can focus on a variety of areas, such as educational
practice and policy, teacher education, or “reforms” of the educational system. We are especially
interested in perspectives from both Western and non-Western countries that reveal hidden
agendas and (un)intended consequences that have not been the focus of previous research and
The editors invite submissions that respond to, but are not limited to, the following topics:
Impact of educational policies on the well-being of children and families
Increased use of standardized assessment and governing of young children
Current educational policies in your country that may have a lasting impact on practices
The standardization of learning and teaching
Push for narrowing the curriculum and prescribed curricula
“Reform” of teacher education
Raising the standards of teacher credentialing
De-professionalization and dilution of the teacher profession
Control over teachers
Possible solutions to reveal and/or prevent (un)intended consequences
The role of academics and practitioners in this context
(a) Potential authors submit an abstract (no more than 500 words) by May 15, 2019 to
[email protected] or [email protected] Please put Policy Futures in Education in the
subject line. The abstract should include an overview of the proposed paper and references.
(b) Outcome of the reviews of the abstracts (to be reviewed by the editors) will be announced by
July 1, 2019.
(c) Authors of successful abstracts will be invited to submit a full manuscript at http://
mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pfie by October 1, 2019 .
(d) Special issue editors send revisions to authors by January 15, 2020.
(e) Authors submit final manuscripts by March 15, 2020.
Submission Guidelines
For the full manuscript word limits, reference styles, and submission guidelines, please refer to
the Policy Futures in Education’s homepage: https://au.sagepub.com/en-gb/oce/journal/policyfutures-education
Merton, Robert K. (1936). "The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action." American Sociological
Review 1 (6): 904. doi:10.2307/2084615.
Lafer, G. (2017). The One Percent Solution. How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time.
ILR Press.
Moss, P. (2014). Transformative change and real utopias in early childhood education: A story of
democracy, experimentation, and potentiality. New York: Routledge.
Sahlberg, P. (2016). Professional autonomy, trust and collaboration in educators’work. Philosophy of Education
Society of Great Britain. Annual Conference New College, Oxford 1 - 3 April 2016. Retrieved on May 26,
2017 from: http://www.philosophy-of-education.org/dotAsset/bc4f09b5-a27f-4306-9966-3aa1fa2cf12c.pdf
Urban, M. (2019). The Shape of Things to Come and what to do about Tom and Mia: Interrogating the OECD’s
International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study from an anti-colonialist perspective. Policy Futures
in Education 1 (6)
Wasmuth, H., & Nitecki, E., (2017). Global early childhood policies: The impact of the global education reform
movement and possibilities for reconceptualization. Global Education Review, 4 (2), 1-17.
Zhao, Y. (2018). What Works May Hurt―Side Effects in Education. New York: Teachers College Press
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