Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226124698 Published April 2014
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226124728 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $25.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226124865 Published April 2014

American School Reform

What Works, What Fails, and Why

Joseph P. McDonald and the Cities and Schools Research Group

Joseph P. McDonald and the Cities and Schools Research Group

208 pages | 4 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226124698 Published April 2014
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226124728 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $25.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226124865 Published April 2014
Dissecting twenty years of educational politics in our nation’s largest cities, American School Reform offers one of the clearest assessments of school reform as it has played out in our recent history. Joseph P. McDonald and his colleagues evaluate the half-billion-dollar Annenberg Challenge—launched in 1994—alongside other large-scale reform efforts that have taken place in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area. They look deeply at what school reform really is, how it works, how it fails, and what differences it can make nonetheless.
             
McDonald and his colleagues lay out several interrelated ideas in what they call a theory of action space. Frequently education policy gets so ambitious that implementing it becomes a near impossibility. Action space, however, is what takes shape when talented educators, leaders, and reformers guide the social capital of civic leaders and the financial capital of governments, foundations, corporations, and other backers toward true results. Exploring these extraordinary collaborations through their lifespans and their influences on future efforts, the authors provide political hope—that reform efforts can work, and that our schools can be made better.   
Jeffrey Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University
American School Reform offers a substantive contribution to school reform debates, focusing on what it takes to create, sustain, and—importantly—continually renew the conditions for successful reform. It combines a notion of the precariousness of reform with optimism, outlining a pragmatic path of incremental improvement that recognizes the very severe and systemic obstacles in its way without stoking frustration or backlash that would undermine the long-term aspiration.”
Larry Cuban, author of Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice
American School Reform importantly advances a historically grounded conceptual framework to understand how the arguments, theories of action, and action space devoted to school reforms change over time, fail, and then get reincarnated in other forms as actors and contexts shift. The authors appreciate and use the past to underscore how earlier reforms have influenced contemporary ones, how the debris of collapsed reforms become building blocks for newer ones. In this way they do what many historians—but too few reformers—do: account for both continuity and change.”
Robert Rothman, author of Fewer, Clearer, Higher
“Urban school districts have been the focal points for intensive reform efforts over the past two decades. All of these efforts have been highly contentious, and they have produced mixed results. The more that is known about what makes reform successful and unsuccessful in these contexts, the greater the likelihood for success in the future. American School Reform makes a significant contribution to this knowledge. It tells important stories about significant reforms in four cities and provides a new way of looking at reform that can be useful moving forward.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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