Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

The central conflict in twenty-first-century school politics— and the central theme of this short book—is perfectly captured by the photo displayed on its cover. Led by the Wisconsin Education Association, hundreds of demonstrating teachers and their allies occupy in 2012 the state’s most prominent public space, the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol, in an attempt to block looming legislation limiting the collective bargaining rights of certain public sector unions...

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1. The Education Iron Triangle

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pp. 1-14

When Chicago teachers closed the city’s schools for seven days in September 2012, their demands went beyond the usual. In addition to asking for a salary increase, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) objected to a longer school day, teacher evaluations based on student test scores, merit pay, and the creation of additional charter schools. Two years earlier, Karen Lewis had overthrown—by a 60 percent margin—CTU’s reigning leadership...

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2. The Teacher-Public Divide

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pp. 15-30

Teacher policy, parental choice, school accountability, taxes, and spending: all that and more have been tossed into the crucible that forges the politics of American education. The questions under debate are nearly endless: How much should be spent on education? How should teachers be paid? Should students and schools be held accountable? Should teachers have tenure to protect them from losing their jobs? ...

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3. Other Social Divisions

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pp. 31-44

The gap between the thinking of teachers and the public as a whole may be wide, but other opinion gaps compete for the attention of policy analysts and political leaders. For some, education politics is first and foremost an extension of the culture wars.1 For others, it is a by-product of class politics, with well-heeled suburbanites resisting measures to use their tax dollars to equalize spending across school district lines.2...

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4. My Back Yard

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pp. 45-56

Perhaps the divide between the general public and teachers shrinks when people are asked about schools in their local community. It could be that public thinking about local schools reflects direct experiences with the schools or is shaped by conversations with friends and neighbors, while its opinions about the nation’s schools are shaped more by ideological speculation or by news reports about troubled schools in other places...

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5. Information Corrodes

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pp. 57-74

Iron remains perpetually strong in the absence of oxygen, but when exposed to the open air, it begins to rust and disintegrate. In politics, the iron triangle survives by means of closed doors, secret meetings, quiet negotiations, and unidentified financial contributions. When the public becomes better informed, fresh air corrodes the iron triangle...

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6. Further Oxidization

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pp. 75-92

Just as the education iron triangle benefits from lack of transparency about school expenditures and teacher salaries, so too does it draw strength from the perception that local schools are performing at an acceptable level.1 Americans do not have a false sense of complacency about the educational performance of the nation as a whole. They know that as many as one student in four fails to graduate from high school on the expected schedule...

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7. Divisions Within

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pp. 93-106

Two years before Rahm Emmanuel’s reform proposals provoked a teacher strike in Chicago, New York City (NYC) mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plans for “ending tenure as we know it.” The NYC school system had come under fire for granting tenure to teachers without adequate assessment of their competence. Awarded at the end of three years of teaching, tenure made it extremely difficult for school administrators to fire low-performing teachers and eventually gave rise to the school system’s notorious “rubber room” for warehousing egregiously incompetent teachers who nonetheless continued to draw their salaries...

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8. Future of the Education Iron Triangle

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pp. 107-124

Various objections can be raised to the arguments advanced in this volume. In this concluding chapter we consider four of the most significant:
—The questions dictated the results.
—Teacher opinion means little because teachers lack the power to block policies that the public truly desires.
—Surveys do not capture political reality...

Appendix A: Data Collection and Analysis

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pp. 125-133

Appendix B: Selected Survey Questions, 2007-13

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pp. 134-145

Appendix C: Detailed Responses to Questions in Tables 2-2 and A-I

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pp. 146-154

Note to Reader

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pp. 155-156

Notes

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pp. 157-168

Index

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pp. 169-178

About the Authors

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Back Cover

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