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Education > Education Policy and Reform

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Marching Students

Chicana and Chicano Activism in Education, 1968 to the Present

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Money, Mandates, and Local Control in American Public Education

Bryan Shelly

"This book is outstanding. . . . [N]o one has delved into the issue of school financing with such depth, data, and thoughtful analysis. It is simply the best in the field." ---Susan B. Neuman, University of Michigan, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education "The most pressing question in American education today is how to allocate school financing and policy-making responsibility among local, state, and national governments. Bryan Shelly's valuable book sheds new light on this question and should be of great interest not only to those who study education policy, but also to scholars of federalism, public finance, and public policy more generally." ---Patrick McGuinn, Drew University "Bryan Shelly offers an insightful and persuasive analysis of the relationship between centralized funding and local control in American public education. His findings---of 'local control' as a reified ideal and political weapon in the politics of redistribution, and of the power of unfunded mandates operating at the margins of local school budgets---will provide a welcome addition to the study of the politics of school finance in the United States." ---Scott Abernathy, University of Minnesota Pointing to the disparities between wealthy and impoverished school districts in areas where revenue depends primarily upon local taxes, reformers repeatedly call for the centralization of school funding. Their proposals meet resistance from citizens, elected officials, and school administrators who fear the loss of local autonomy. Bryan Shelly finds, however, that local autonomy has already been compromised by federal and state governments, which exercise a tremendous amount of control over public education despite their small contribution to a school system's funding. This disproportionate relationship between funding and control allows state and federal officials to pass education policy yet excuses them from supplying adequate funding for new programs. The resulting unfunded and underfunded mandates and regulations, Shelly insists, are the true cause of the loss of community control over public education. Shelly outlines the effects of the most infamous of underfunded federal mandates, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and explores why schools implemented it despite its unpopularity and out-of-pocket costs. Shelly's findings hold significant implications for school finance reform, NCLB, and the future of intergovernmental relations. Jacket photograph: © iStockphoto.com/michelle_d

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Multiethnic Moments

When courts lifted their school desegregation orders in the 1990s—declaring that black and white students were now "integrated" in America's public schools—it seemed that a window of opportunity would open for Latinos, Asians, and people of other races and ethnicities to influence school reform efforts. However, in most large cities the "multiethnic moment" passed, without leading to greater responsiveness to burgeoning new constituencies. Multiethnic Moments examines school systems in four major U.S. cities—Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—to uncover the factors that worked for and against ethnically-representative school change. More than a case study, this book is a concentrated effort to come to grips with the multiethnic city as a distinctive setting. It utilizes the politics of education reform to provide theoretically-grounded, empirical scholarship about the broader contemporary politics of race and ethnicity—emphasizing the intersection of interests, ideas, and institutions with the differing political legacies of each of the cities under consideration.

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A New Deal for the Humanities

Liberal Arts and the Future of Public Higher Education

Gordon Hutner

Many in higher education fear that the humanities are facing a crisis. But even if the rhetoric about “crisis” is overblown, humanities departments do face increasing pressure from administrators, politicians, parents, and students. In A New Deal for the Humanities, Gordon Hutner and Feisal G. Mohamed bring together twelve prominent scholars who address the history, the present state, and the future direction of the humanities. These scholars keep the focus on public higher education, for it is in our state schools that the liberal arts are taught to the greatest numbers and where their neglect would be most damaging for the nation.
 
The contributors offer spirited and thought-provoking debates on a diverse range of topics. For instance, they deplore the push by administrations to narrow learning into quantifiable outcomes as well as the demands of state governments for more practical, usable training. Indeed, for those who suggest that a college education should be “practical”—that it should lean toward the sciences and engineering, where the high-paying jobs are—this book points out that while a few nations produce as many technicians as the United States does, America is still renowned worldwide for its innovation and creativity, skills taught most effectively in the humanities. Most importantly, the essays in this collection examine ways to make the humanities even more effective, such as offering a broader array of options than the traditional major/minor scheme, options that combine a student’s professional and intellectual interests, like the new medical humanities programs.
 
A democracy can only be as energetic as the minds of its citizens, and the questions fundamental to the humanities are also fundamental to a thoughtful life. A New Deal for the Humanities takes an intrepid step in making the humanities—and our citizens—even stronger in the future.

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No Child Left Behind and the Public Schools

Scott Franklin Abernathy

“A powerful, detailed, and exceptionally balanced critique of NCLB. It offers some hope for how we might overcome its faults. No legislator or educational expert should be allowed to get away with not reading it—whether to agree or disagree. It’s a must learning experience.” —Deborah Meier, Senior Scholar and Adjunct Professor, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University, and author of In Schools We Trust “A concise, highly readable, and balanced account of NCLB, with insightful and realistic suggestions for reform. Teachers, professors, policymakers, and parents—this is the one book about NCLB you ought to read.” —James E. Ryan, William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor, University of Virginia School of Law This far-reaching new study looks at the successes and failures of one of the most ambitious and controversial educational initiatives since desegregation—the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. NCLB’s opponents criticize it as underfunded and unworkable, while supporters see it as a radical but necessary educational reform that evens the score between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Yet the most basic and important question remains unasked: “Can we ever really know if a child’s education is good?” Ultimately, Scott Franklin Abernathy argues, policymakers must begin from this question, rather than assuming that any test can accurately measure the elusive thing we call “good” education.

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Objectifying Measures

In the past twenty years, the number of educational tests with high-stakes consequences—such as promotion to the next grade level or graduating from high school—has increased. At the same time, the difficulty of the tests has also increased. In Texas, a Latina state legislator introduced and lobbied for a bill that would take such factors as teacher recommendations, portfolios of student work, and grades into account for the students—usually students of color—who failed such tests. The bill was defeated.

Using several types of ethnographic study (personal interviews, observations of the Legislature in action, news broadcasts, public documents from the Legislature and Texas Education Agency), Amanda Walker Johnson observed the struggle for the bill’s passage. Through recounting this experience, Objectifying Measures explores the relationship between the cultural production of scientific knowledge (of statistics in particular) and the often intuitive resistance to objectification of those adversely affected by the power of policies underwritten as "scientific."

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Performance Incentives

Their Growing Impact on American K-12 Education

edited by Matthew G. Springer

The concept of pay for performance for public school teachers is growing in popularity and use, and it has resurged to once again occupy a central role in education policy. Performance Incentives: Their Growing Impact on American K-12 Education offers the most up-to-date and complete analysis of this promising —yet still controversial —policy innovation.

Performance Incentives brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts, providing an unprecedented discussion and analysis of the pay-for-performance debate by

• Identifying the potential strengths and weaknesses of tying pay to student outcomes;

• Comparing different strategies for measuring teacher accomplishments;

• Addressing key conceptual and implemen - tation issues;

• Describing what teachers themselves think of merit pay;

• Examining recent examples in Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas;

• Studying the overall impact on student achievement.

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Politicians, Judges, and City Schools

Reforming School Finance in New York

During the 1970s, a nationwide school finance reform movement—fueled by litigation challenging the constitutionality of state education funding laws—brought significant changes to the way many states finance their public elementary and secondary school systems. School finance reform poses difficult philosophical questions: what is the meaning of equality in educational opportunity and of equity in the distribution of tax burdens? But it also involves enormous financial complexity (for example, dividing resources among competing special programs) and political risk (such as balancing local control with the need for statewide parity).

For those states (like New York) that were slow to make changes a new decade has brought new constraints and complications. Sluggish economic growth, taxpayer revolts, reductions in federal aid, all affect education revenues. And the current concern with educational excellence may obscure the needs of the poor and educationally disadvantaged.

This book will provide New York’s policy makers and other concerned specialists with a better understanding of the political, economic, and equity issues underlying the school finance reform debate. It details existing inequities, evaluates current financing formulas, and presents options for change. Most important, for all those concerned with education and public policy in New York and elsewhere, it offers a masterful assessment of the trade-offs involved in developing reform programs that balance the conflicting demands of resource equalization, political feasibility, and fiscal responsibility.

"Synthesizes the political and fiscal research [on school finance reform] and applies it to the New York Context....A blueprint for how to redesign state school finance....A fine book." —Public Administration Review

"This is a book that lucidly discusses the issues in school finance and provides valuable reference material." —American Political Science Review

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The Politics of Deafness

Owen Wrigley

The Politics of Deafness embarks upon a post-modern examination of the search for identity in deafness and its relationship to the prevalent hearing culture that has marginalized Deaf people. Author Owen Wrigley plainly states his intention to disrupt “normal” thought about the popularly considered condition of deafness as a physical deficiency. From his decade of experience working and living in the Deaf community in Thailand, he uses wide-ranging examples to go beyond disputing conventional theorists for their interpretation of deafness as the lack of a sensory function. By calling attention to the different lingual potential created by the instant visual expression of cyberspace, he explodes orthodox conceptualization of the nature of language as serially ordered and dependent upon sound. In bold style, this provocative work poses the relationship of the bodies physical and mental of Deaf people as subject to a form of "colonialism" by the dominant Hearing culture. It proceeds to expose and attack presumptions and practices that derive from and descend upon deaf bodies. Related analysis also addresses tensions little noted in the current literature on deafness and on the popular move to reconstitute Deafness as a global culture. Through displacement of logistical anchors, ironic stances, and disconcerting perspectives, The Politics of Deafness practices a form of de-naturalization to demand space within and between the normalizing frames of daily lives. By doing so, it offers an insightful and intriguing perspective on the meanings of Deafness, the politics of Deaf identity, and what it costs to be “unusual.”

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The Politics of Educational Reform 1920-1940

Brian Simon

The third volume of Britain Simon’s series Studies in the History of Education covers the crucial years 1920-1940 in which the ground was prepared for the 1944 Education Act and for most of the conflicts that have beset educational policies in Britain since the end of World War Two. During this twenty year period the Labour Party’s programmes for educational reform came into conflict with a determined Conservative resistance. Real power in the shaping of educational policies was transferred increasingly to civil servants and the long-established divided system of education was consolidated by the development of psychologists of the theory and practice of ‘psychometry’ and ‘intelligence tests’ while the privileged position of public schools was maintained intact

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