Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Had I not had such a positive experience in a public school district, I doubt I would have been so interested in the system as a whole. My first note of thanks must go to my teachers in the Pennridge School District for helping me grow as a person and giving me an ideal template of the type of education that I would like all students to receive. First among equals ....

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1. Equity and Control in School Funding

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pp. 1-16

When one thinks about public education, what is the first image that comes to mind? Many people will remember their own or their children’s schools, particularly if one had a favorite teacher or class or caught the winning touchdown that vanquished a hated rival. Others may think fondly of the promise that public education will help all students achieve ...

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2. Mechanical Advantage? : How the Piper Link May Work

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pp. 17-30

A proverb is an attempt to express the essence of a complex truth in a few words, but the relationship between funding from centralized levels of an intergovernmental system and the autonomy of decentralized levels is anything but simple. Even those who believe in a strong relationship between the two would agree that the failure more clearly to hypothesize the ...

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3. The More Money We Come Upon : Finance Centralized and Negative Local Autonomy

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pp. 31-46

Although local control is made up of hundreds of possible decisions, some decisions are more central to the core mission of public education and therefore more important than others. All else being equal, a school district that can independently choose its curriculum has more local control than one that can choose only its lunch menu. Fortunately, for many ...

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4. Sharks and Wolverines : The Effect of School Finance Centralization in Vermont and Michigan

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pp. 47-89

The results of chapter 3 may indicate that a state’s finance share has no effect on its level of regulation but cannot speak to whether state finance share undercuts local governments’ ability to undertake independent actions—that is, on their level of positive local autonomy. A strong local government is not just free from restriction. Its leaders must also feel ...

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5. Taxes and Tocqueville : Local Control and Public Opinion in School Finance Reform

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pp. 90-118

Both the aggregate statistical analysis from all fifty states and the case studies of Vermont and Michigan show that for the 20–90 range of possible state shares of total school funding, local autonomy is not compromised in any measurable way. Why, then, has the Piper Link been such an issue in so many school finance reform movements? The answer ...

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6. What Boiled the Frog : Unfunded Mandates and the Real Problem with Centralized-Level Funding

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pp. 119-131

Steve Jeffrey, the executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, has probably spent as much time thinking about local control as anyone in the state. Local control, after all, is his business. He compares local control in Vermont to trying to boil a frog. If one turns up the heat on the stove too quickly, the frog will sense that something is amiss ...

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7. No Child Left Behind and the Power of 5 Percent

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pp. 132-154

Chapter 6 suggests that “unfunded” mandates such as special education and No Child Left Behind are far more harmful to local autonomy than finance centralization born out of state efforts to achieve a more equal funding distribution, but one critical question remains unanswered. If, as chapter 6 argues, local officials detest state and federal reg- ...

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8. Brave New World : Local Control and the Future of American Education

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pp. 155-166

This book’s central question has been whether funding from state and federal governments disrupts local educational control in the United States. The evidence presented suggests that the Piper Link functions but does not follow a simple “money equals control” formula. Relatively small contributions to the total funding burden give state and federal ...

Notes

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pp. 167-178

References

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pp. 179-192

Index

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pp. 193-200