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Education > Education Policy and Reform

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From Class to Identity

The politics of education reforms in former Yugoslavia

Jana Bacevic

Jana Bacevic provides an innovative analysis of education policy-making in the processes of social transformation and post-conflict development in the Western Balkans. Based on case studies of educational reform in the former Yugoslavia - from the decade before its violent breakup to contemporary efforts in post-conflict reconstruction - From Class to Identity tells the story of the political processes and motivations underlying each reform. The book moves away from technical-rational or prescriptive approaches that dominate the literature on education policy-making during social transformation, and offers an example on how to include the social, political and cultural context in the understanding of policy reforms. It connects education policy at a particular time in a particular place with broader questions such as: What is the role of education in society? What kind of education is needed for a ‘good’ society? Who are the ‘targets’ of education policies (individuals/citizens, ethnic/religious/linguistic groups, societies)? Bacevic shows how different answers to these questions influence the contents and outcomes of policies.

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From Integration to Inclusion

A History of Special Education in the 20th Century

Margret A. Winzer

Since Margret A. Winzer wrote her landmark work The History of Special Education, much has transpired in this field, which she again has captured in a remarkable display of scholarship. Winzer’s new study From Integration to Inclusion: A History of Special Education in the 20th Century focuses chiefly on the significant events of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in the United States and Canada. Its key dynamics consist of a retrospective overview of the paradigms that emerged from and shaped special education; a critical assessment of past progress and reform, including failures and disappointments; and an analysis of the theoretical diversity within the discipline. In this stand-alone volume, Winzer juxtaposes the historical study of disability and of special schooling and service provision with reference to broader social systems, protocols, and practices. She documents how prevailing emotional and intellectual climates influence disability and schooling, and also takes into account the social, political, and ideological factors that affect educational theory and practice. Winzer recognizes that reform has been the Zeitgeist of the history of special education. Crucial problems such as defining exceptional conditions and separating them from one another were formulated in contexts organized along moral, theological, legislative, medical, and social dimensions. Many of these reforms failed for various reasons, which Winzer thoroughly explains in her study. Most of these reforms evolved from the long and honorable pedigree that the field of special education has possessed since its earliest antecedents, now admirably brought up to date by this outstanding work.

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From Schoolhouse to Courthouse

The Judiciary's Role in American Education

edited by Joshua M. Dunn and Martin R. West

From race to speech, from religion to school funding, from discipline to special education, few aspects of education policy have escaped the courtroom over the past fifty years. Predictably, much controversy has ensued. Supporters of education litigation contend that the courts are essential to secure student (and civil) rights, while critics insist that the courts distort policy and that the mere threat of litigation undermines the authority of teachers and administrators.

From Schoolhouse to Courthouse brings together experts on law, political science, and education policy to test these claims. Shep Melnick (Boston College) and James Ryan (University of Virginia School of Law) draw lessons from judicial efforts to promote school desegregation and civil rights. Martha Derthick (University of Virginia), John Dinan (Wake Forest University), and Michael Heise (Cornell Law School) discuss litigation over high-stakes testing and school finance in the era of No Child Left Behind. Richard Arum (New York University), Samuel R. Bagenstos (Washington University Law School), and Frederick M. Hess (American Enterprise Institute) analyze the consequences of court rulings for school discipline, special education, and district management. Finally, editors Joshua Dunn and Martin R. West probe the tangled relationship between religious freedom, student speech, and school choice.

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Getting Choice Right

Ensuring Equity and Efficiency in Education Policy

edited by Julian Betts and Tom Loveless

This second volume from the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education examines the connections between school choice and the goals of equity and efficiency in education. The contributors—distinguished university professors, high school administrators, and scholars from research institutions around the country—assess the efficiency of the educational system, analyzing efforts to boost average achievement. Their discussion of equity focuses on the reduction of racial and religious segregation in education, as well as measures to ensure that "no child is left behind." The result is an authoritative and balanced look at how to maximize benefits while minimizing risks in the implementation of school choice. The National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education was established to explore how choice works and to examine how communities interested in the potential benefits of new school options could obtain them while avoiding choice's potential harms. In addition to the editors, commissioners include Paul T. Hill and Dan Goldhaber (University of Washington), David Ferrero (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Brian P. Gill and Laura Hamilton (Rand), Jeffrey R. Henig (Teachers College, Columbia University), Frederick M. Hess (American Enterprise Institute), Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Lawrence Rosenstock (High Tech High, San Diego), Charles Venegoni (Civitas Schools in Chicago), Janet Weiss (University of Michigan), and Patrick J. Wolf (Georgetown University).

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Getting to Graduation

The Completion Agenda in Higher Education

edited by Andrew P. Kelly and Mark Schneider

The United States, long considered to have the best higher education in the world, now ranks eleventh in the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with a college degree. As other countries have made dramatic gains in degree attainment, the U.S. has improved more slowly. In response, President Obama recently laid out a national “completion agenda” with the goal of making the U.S. the best-educated nation in the world by the year 2020. Getting to Graduation explores the reforms that we must pursue to recover a position of international leadership in higher education as well as the obstacles to those reforms. This new completion agenda puts increased pressure on institutions to promote student success and improve institutional productivity in a time of declining public revenue. In this volume, scholars of higher education and public policymakers describe promising directions for reform. They argue that it is essential to redefine postsecondary education and to consider a broader range of learning opportunities—beyond the research university and traditional bachelor degree programs—to include community colleges, occupational certificate programs, and apprenticeships. The authors also emphasize the need to rethink policies governing financial aid, remediation, and institutional funding to promote degree completion.

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A Good Investment?

Philanthropy and the Marketing of Race in an Urban Public School

Amy Brown

Select students and teachers worked the room at a fundraising event for a New York City public high school Amy Brown calls College Preparatory Academy. It was their job to convince wealthy attendants that College Prep, with its largely minority and disadvantaged student body and its unusually high rate of graduation and college acceptance, was a worthy investment. To this end, students and teachers tried to seem needy and deserving, hoping to make supporters feel generous, important, and not threatened. How much, Brown asks, does competition for financing in urban public schools depend on marketing and perpetuating poverty in order to thrive? And are the actors in this drama deliberately playing up stereotypes of race and class?

A Good Investment? offers a firsthand look behind the scenes of the philanthropic approach to funding public education—a process in which social change in education policy and practice is aligned with social entrepreneurship. The appearance of success, equity, or justice in education, Brown argues, might actually serve to maintain stark inequalities and inhibit democracy. Her book shows that models of corporate or philanthropic charity in education can in fact reinforce the race and class hierarchies that they purport to alleviate.

As their voices reveal, the teachers and students on the receiving end of such a system can be critically conscious and ambivalent participants in a school’s racialized marketing and image management. Timely and provocative, this nuanced work exposes the unintended consequences of an education marketplace where charity masquerades as justice.


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Good Little School, A

A Good Little School pays homage to Jefferson County Open School, a public school of choice with a thirty-year history of providing an alternative education for students in K-12. Chronicled in this book are the personal experiences and anecdotes of teachers, parents, and students within the school, and how their contributions make it unique. In so doing, these reflections demonstrate to others that there is more to education than conventional subject areas such as math and reading. Also examined are the ways in which the school preserves the core elements that support the students’ best personal, social, and intellectual interests. These self-reflective accounts create a learning environment with humanity at the center, giving students the skills necessary to lead compassionate lives.

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Higher Education Financing in East and Southern Africa

This nine-country study of higher education financing in Africa includes three East African states (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), five countries in southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa), and an Indian Ocean island state (Mauritius). Higher Education Financing in East and Southern Africa explores trends in financing policies, paying particular attention to the nature and extent of public sector funding of higher education, the growth of private financing (including both household financing and the growth of private higher education institutions) and the changing mix of financing instruments that these countries are developing in response to public sector financial constraints. This unique collection of African-country case studies draws attention to the remaining challenges around the financing of higher education in Africa, but also identifies good practices, lessons and common themes.

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Higher Education in Africa. Crises, Reforms and Transformation

Higher Education in Africa. Crises, Reforms and Transformation

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Higher Learning, Greater Good

The Private and Social Benefits of Higher Education

Walter W. McMahon

A college education has long been acknowledged as essential for both personal success and economic growth. But the measurable value of its nonmonetary benefits has until now been poorly understood. Walter W. McMahon, a leading education economist, carefully describes these benefits and suggests that higher education accrues significant social and private benefits. McMahon's research uncovers a major skill deficit in the United States and other OECD countries owing to technical change and globalization. Yet a college degree brings better job opportunities, higher earnings, and even improved health. Higher education also promotes democracy and sustainable growth and contributes to reduced crime and lower state welfare and prison costs. These social benefits are substantial in relation to the costs of a college education. Offering a human capital perspective on these and other higher education policy issues, McMahon suggests that poor understanding of the value of nonmarket benefits leads to private underinvestment. He offers policy options that can enable state and federal governments to increase investment in higher education.

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