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.
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.