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An Education in Politics

The Origins and Evolution of No Child Left Behind

by Jesse Rhodes

Since the early 1990s, the federal role in education-exemplified by the controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)-has expanded dramatically. Yet states and localities have retained a central role in education policy, leading to a growing struggle for control over the direction of the nation's schools. In An Education in Politics, Jesse H. Rhodes explains the uneven development of federal involvement in education. While supporters of expanded federal involvement enjoyed some success in bringing new ideas to the federal policy agenda, Rhodes argues, they also encountered stiff resistance from proponents of local control. Built atop existing decentralized policies, new federal reforms raised difficult questions about which level of government bore ultimate responsibility for improving schools.

Rhodes's argument focuses on the role played by civil rights activists, business leaders, and education experts in promoting the reforms that would be enacted with federal policies such as NCLB. It also underscores the constraints on federal involvement imposed by existing education policies, hostile interest groups, and, above all, the nation's federal system. Indeed, the federal system, which left specific policy formation and implementation to the states and localities, repeatedly frustrated efforts to effect changes: national reforms lost their force as policies passed through iterations at the state, county, and municipal levels. Ironically, state and local resistance only encouraged civil rights activists, business leaders, and their political allies to advocate even more stringent reforms that imposed heavier burdens on state and local governments. Through it all, the nation's education system made only incremental steps toward the goal of providing a quality education for every child.

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Education Reform and the Limits of Policy

Lessons from Michigan

Michael F. Addonizio and C. Philip Kearney

The authors use Michigan as a laboratory to examine a set of commonly implemented reforms in an attempt to answer three key questions: 1) What is the nature of these reforms? 2) What do they hope to accomplish? and 3) How successful have they been?

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Educational Interpreting

How It Can Succeed

Elizabeth A. Winston, Editor

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Elusive Equity

Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Edward B. Fiske and Helen F. Ladd

Elusive Equity chronicles South Africa's efforts to fashion a racially equitable state education system from the ashes of apartheid. The policymakers who came to power with Nelson Mandela in 1994 inherited and education system designed to further the racist goals of apartheid. Their massive challenge was to transform that system, which lavished human and financial resources on schools serving white students while systematically starving those serving African, coloured, and Indian learners, into one that would offer quality education to all persons, regardless of their race.

Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd describe and evaluate the strategies that South Africa pursued in its quest for racial equity. They draw on previously unpublished data, interviews with key officials, and visits to dozens of schools to describe the changes made in school finance, teacher assignment policies, governance, curriculum, higher education, and other areas. They conclude that the country has made remarkable progress toward equity in the sense of equal treatment of persons of all races. For several reasons, however, the country has been far less successful in promoting equal educational opportunity or educational adequacy. Thus equity has remained elusive.

The book is unique in combining the perceptive observations of a skilled education journalist with the analytical skills of an academic policy expert. Richly textured descriptions of how South Africa's education reforms have affected schools at the grass-roots level are combined with careful analysis of enrollment, governance, and budget data at the school, provincial, and national levels. The result is a compelling and comprehensive study of South Africa's first decade of education reform in the post-apartheid period.

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Emerging Issues and Trends in Education

As classrooms across the globe become increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that educators understand how to meet the needs of students with varying demographic backgrounds. Emerging Issues and Trends in Education presents case studies from academics who have all at one point been teachers in K–12 classrooms, addressing topics such as STEM as well as global issues related to race, gender education, education policy, and parental engagement. The contributors take an international approach, including research about Nigerian, Chinese, Native American, and Mexican American classrooms. With a focus on multidisciplinary perspectives, Emerging Issues and Trends in Education is reflective of the need to embrace different ways of looking at problems to improve education for all students.

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Employment Growth from Public Support of Innovation in Small Firms

Albert N. Link and John T. Scott

Link and Scott provide a statistical assessment of the employment growth associated with public support of R&D in small, entrepreneurial firms through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. While on the surface the SBIR program is generally intended to stimulate innovation leading to commercialization, and this is how government and scholars have historically judged the program, Link and Scott suggest that it may be assessed from a different perspective. To them, the extent to which long-term job creation results from public support of R&D should be evaluated.

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The End of Consensus

Diversity, Neighborhoods, and the Politics of Public School Assignments

Toby L. Parcel

One of the nation's fastest growing metropolitan areas, Wake County, North Carolina, added more than a quarter million new residents during the first decade of this century, an increase of almost 45 percent. At the same time, partisanship increasingly dominated local politics, including school board races. Against this backdrop, Toby Parcel and Andrew Taylor consider the ways diversity and neighborhood schools have influenced school assignment policies in Wake County, particularly during 2000-2012, when these policies became controversial locally and a topic of national attention. The End of Consensus explores the extraordinary transformation of Wake County during this period, revealing inextricable links between population growth, political ideology, and controversial K–12 education policies.

Drawing on media coverage, in-depth interviews with community leaders, and responses from focus groups, Parcel and Taylor's innovative work combines insights from these sources with findings from a survey of 1,700 county residents. Using a broad range of materials and methods, the authors have produced the definitive story of politics and change in public school assignments in Wake County while demonstrating the importance of these dynamics to cities across the country.

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Endangering Prosperity

A Global View of the American School

foreword by Lawrence H. Summers. Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessmann

The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity. In Endangering Prosperity, a trio of experts on international education policy compares the performance of American schools against that of other nations. The net result is a mixed but largely disappointing picture that clearly shows where improvement is most needed. The authors' objective is not to explain the deep causes of past failures but to document how dramatically the U.S. school system has failed its students and its citizens. It is a wake-up call for structural reform. To move forward to a different and better future requires that we understand just how serious a situation America faces today.

For example, the authors consider the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international mathematics examination. America is stuck in the middle of average scores, barely beating out European countries whose national economies are in the red zone. U.S. performance as measured against stronger economies is even weaker —in total, 32 nations outperformed the United States. The authors also delve into comparative reading scores. A mere 31 percent of U.S. students in the class of 2011 could perform at the "proficient" level as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) program, compared with South Korea's result of 47 percent. And while some observers may downplay the significance of cross-globe comparisons, they should note that Canadian students are dramatically outpacing their U.S. counterparts as well.

Clearly something is wrong with this picture, and this book clearly explicates the costs of inaction. The time for incremental tweaking the system is long past —wider, deeper, and more courageous steps are needed, as this book amply demonstrates with accessible prose, supported with hard data that simply cannot be ignored.

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Enhancing Diversity

Educators with Disabilities

Ronald J. Anderson, Clayton E. Keller, and Joan M. Karp, Editors

“This is a unique, timely, and relevant book that addresses the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of persons with disabilities who seek and achieve entry into professional life as educators. The contributors examine the importance of support services, the critical barriers to successful performance, and conclude by recommending actions that, if implemented, have the potential to facilitate entry into the field of education and create more and better opportunities for persons with disabilities.” --From the Foreword by Robert R. Davila, Former President, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC The 43 million people with disabilities form this country’s largest minority group, yet they are markedly under-employed as educators. Enhancing Diversity: Educators with Disabilities paves the way for correcting this costly omission. Editors Anderson, Karp, and Keller have called upon the knowledge of 19 other renowned contributors to address the important issues raised in Enhancing Diversity, including the place of disability in discussions of diversity in education, research on educators with disabilities that validates their capabilities, and information on the qualifications desired in and the demands made of education professionals. Legal precedents are cited and explained, and examples of efforts to place disabled educators are presented, along with recommendations on how disabled individuals and school administrators can work toward increased opportunities. Interviews with 25 disabled educators discussing how they satisfactorily fulfill their professional requirements completes this thoughtful-provoking book.

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Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-first Century

Moving to a Mission-Oriented and Learner-Centered Model

Edited by Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey

The institution of tenure—once a cornerstone of American colleges and universities—is rapidly eroding. Envisioning the Faculty for the Twenty-First Century weighs the concerns of university administrators, professors, adjuncts, and students in order to investigate whether there are ways to modify the existing system or promote new faculty models without shortchanging students or cheapening the mission of academia. It also examines the opportunities these systemic changes might create, offering universities a guide for responding to the rapidly evolving needs of an increasingly global society.

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