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Money Myth, The

Money Myth, The: School Resources, Outcomes, and Equity

W. Norton Grubb
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Money Myth, The
    Book Description:

    Can money buy high-quality education? Studies find only a weak relationship between public school funding and educational outcomes. In The Money Myth, W. Norton Grubb proposes a powerful paradigm shift in the way we think about why some schools thrive and others fail. The greatest inequalities in America’s schools lie in factors other than fiscal support. Fundamental differences in resources other than money—for example, in leadership, instruction, and tracking policies—explain the deepening divide in the success of our nation’s schoolchildren. The Money Myth establishes several principles for a bold new approach to education reform. Drawing on a national longitudinal dataset collected over twelve years, Grubb makes a crucial distinction between “simple” resources and those “compound,” “complex,” and “abstract” resources that cannot be readily bought. Money can buy simple resources—such as higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes—but these resources are actually some of the weakest predictors of educational outcomes. On the other hand, complex resources pertaining to school practices are astonishingly strong predictors of success. Grubb finds that tracking policies have the most profound and consistent impact on student outcomes over time. Schools often relegate low-performing students—particularly minorities—to vocational, remedial, and special education tracks. So even in well-funded schools, resources may never reach the students who need them most. Grubb also finds that innovation in the classroom has a critical impact on student success. Here, too, America’s schools are stratified. Teachers in underperforming schools tend to devote significant amounts of time to administration and discipline, while instructors in highly ranked schools dedicate the bulk of their time to “engaged learning,” using varied pedagogical approaches. Effective schools distribute leadership among many instructors and administrators, and they foster a sense of both trust and accountability. These schools have a clear mission and coherent agenda for reaching goals. Underperforming schools, by contrast, implement a variety of fragmented reforms and practices without developing a unified plan. This phenomenon is perhaps most powerfully visible in the negative repercussions of No Child Left Behind. In a frantic attempt to meet federal standards and raise test scores quickly, more and more schools are turning to scripted “off the shelf” curricula. These practices discourage student engagement, suppress teacher creativity, and hold little promise of improving learning beyond the most basic skills. Grubb shows that infusions of money alone won’t eradicate inequality in America’s schools. We need to address the vast differences in the way school communities operate. By looking beyond school finance, The Money Myth gets to the core reasons why education in America is so unequal and provides clear recommendations for addressing this chronic national problem.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-637-2
    Subjects: Business, Education, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    W. Norton Grubb
  5. Introduction Resources, Effectiveness, and Equity in Schools
    (pp. 1-22)

    Adequate funding has been a worry throughout the history of public schooling. During the first half of the nineteenth century, a prolonged effort took place to shift from voluntary support—charity schooling for the poor, private schooling for others—to tax-based support so that all children could attend school. Attempts to build a public schoolsystemput substantial financial strains on districts to allow longer periods of attendance, the abolition of tuition, high schools in addition to grammar schools, stone and brick buildings in place of log cabins, and decent privies. The demographics of the school population added its own...

  6. Part I Implications of the Improved School Finance

    • Chapter 1 Moving Beyond Money: The Variety of Educational Resources
      (pp. 25-52)

      Despite the demands of generations of reformers for more funding, there are too many puzzles in the myth of money to ignore. The substantial increases in spending throughout the last century have neither reduced the need for reforms nor eliminated many inequalities in resources and outcomes. States and districts have poured substantial sums into reforms, but some of these funds have accomplished little; some expensive initiatives have been ineffective, and sustaining real reform has been difficult. A long series of efforts to demonstrate the effects of conventional resources—smaller class size, greater teacher experience, more overall spending per pupil—have...

    • Chapter 2 Multiple Resources, Multiple Outcomes: Testing the Improved School Finance with the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of the Class of 1988
      (pp. 53-76)

      The challenge for improving schools, based on the approach presented in chapter 1, is to identify which school resources—now broadly defined as simple, compound, complex, and abstract—are effective. In this chapter, I discuss the rich data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of the Class of 1988 (NELS88) that enable me to do that. I present basic conclusions from the data and describe the powerful effects of school resources—most of them compound, complex, or abstract—on a variety of educational outcomes. I also clarify how existing analyses often understate the potential of educational resources. Some resources affect...

    • Chapter 3 When Money Does Matter: Explaining the Weak Effects of School Funding
      (pp. 77-90)

      In the previous chapter, I identified the school resources that enhance a variety of schooling outcomes. This was the first task required of improved approaches to school resources. The second task is to understand better what role money plays in enhancing these effective resources—whether, as the myth of money implies, increased spending increases effective resources and then outcomes, or whether this relationship is more complex and checkered. In this chapter, I apply the NELS88 data to equation 1.3, or the causal path between revenues and school resources in figure 1.2. I look at where increased spending makes a difference,...

    • Chapter 4 Families as Resources: The Effects of Family Background and Demographic Variables
      (pp. 91-112)

      School resources are not the only inputs that matter to outcomes. At least since the charity schools for the poor of the early nineteenth century, educators have noticed that the families from which children come—poor or rich, immigrant or native-born, working-class or middle-class, black or white—influence their prospects. As noted by DeWitt Clinton, one of the early supporters of charity schools in New York, the children of the poor would, except for the intervention of the schools, be “brought up in ignorance, and amidst the contagion of bad example, are in imminent danger of ruin” (Kaestle 1983, 84)....

    • Chapter 5 Students as Resources: The Effects of Connectedness to Schooling
      (pp. 113-128)

      Students are themselves resources for learning, just as various school practices and dimensions of family background are. If students are absent from school, or mentally distracted, or unconvinced about the value of schooling, then even the best instruction and the most supportive school climate may have little influence. The inclusion of student connectedness to schooling in the models developed in chapter 1—particularly in figure 1.2, in which many different resources affect student outcomes—also reflects Magdalene Lampert’s (2001) vision of the classroom: the interaction of the teacher, the student, the curriculum, and the larger institutional setting of formal schooling...

  7. Part II Dynamic Inequality and the Effects of School Resources over Time

    • Chapter 6 Equity and Inequality: From Static to Dynamic Conceptions
      (pp. 131-157)

      The first five chapters of this book were principally about the effectiveness of school resources, but expanded the conception of resources well past the simple resources that preoccupy most policy discussions. Of course, the results reported in those chapters also shed a great deal of light on inequalities in outcomes, since inequalities in school resources (and nonschool resources like family background)—the inequalities described in table 1.1—create inequalities in educational outcomes as well. As mentioned in the introduction, the test scores for fifteen-year-olds measured in the Program in International Student Achievement (PISA) data are more unequal than in virtually...

    • Chapter 7 Dynamic Inequality: Schooling Outcomes over Time
      (pp. 158-174)

      The hypothesis of dynamic inequality is that schooling outcomes may diverge over time, adding inequalities created during the entire trajectory of formal schooling to those inequalities that students bring with them to school. Only by examining these possibilities empirically can we know whether schools, as well as nonschool resources including family background, lead to divergence, neutrality, or convergence, though the little information we have indicates that divergence is typical. The NELS88 data used in part 1 are well suited to answering this question, since they have three years of comparable data—for grades 8, 10, and 12—allowing estimation of...

    • Chapter 8 Correcting Dynamic Inequality in Practice: Exploring What Schools Do for Low-Performing Students
      (pp. 175-204)

      In the previous chapter, I confirmed that inequality among students increases over the period from eighth to tenth to twelfth grade, in a pattern I have referred to as dynamic inequality. The increases over time are most strongly related to family background and to demographic variables, including race and ethnicity, though there is some evidence that school resources and improvements in student commitment to schooling can moderate dynamic inequality. Furthermore, dynamic inequality increases not steadily but in bursts—for example, when students move from middle school to high school—so the question of what schools do to moderate dynamic inequality...

  8. Part III Implications for School Practice, Education Policy, and Litigation

    • Chapter 9 Making Resources Matter: Implications for School-Level Practice
      (pp. 207-229)

      In thinking about how to make education more effectiveandmore equitable, I start with the school as the unit of reform. Many of the most effective resources identified in chapters 2 and 7 involve school-level policies, such as decisions to place students in general, traditional vocational, or remedial tracks rather than to create alternatives to conventional tracking; policies that affect school climate, both its positive and negative dimensions; and efforts to increase teacher planning time and staff development, particularly with an emphasis on more balanced instruction. Many measures of effective teaching—teachers’ use of time, the prevalence of conventional...

    • Chapter 10 Supporting the Improved School Finance: District, State, and Federal Roles
      (pp. 230-253)

      In the previous chapter, I focused on schools as the basic unit of reform, partly because many effective resources must be developed at the school level. But schools exist within districts, districts within states, and states within a federal government increasingly determined to shape education according to its own ideology. To be effective the principles of the improved school finance must extend to district, state, and federal policy as well. Otherwise, schools will all too often find their efforts at capacity-building undermined by district or state fiat, by the instability of teacher and principal turnover they cannot control, or by...

    • Chapter 11 The Implications for Litigation of the Improved School Finance
      (pp. 254-266)

      In the pursuit of educational equity, litigation has played an enormous role in a variety of areas—in racial desegregation, culminating in theBrown v. Board of Educationdecision and various efforts to enforce it; in the establishment of linguistic rights for English learners, starting with theLau v. Nicholscase; in a variety of cases related to gender equity; and in special education, with its complex apparatus of adjudicating disputes between districts and parents acting on behalf of their children.¹ The cases of greatest interest for this book are the lawsuits intended to advance equity in school finance, starting...

    • Chapter 12 The Implications for Reform: Conceptions of Schooling and the Role of the Welfare State
      (pp. 267-288)

      By now, we can see more clearly why the money myth—the belief that “the question of sufficient revenue lies back of almost every other problem,” and the faith that more money might solve a variety of educational problems—is often wrong, or at best incomplete. A great deal of money is wasted, for a variety of reasons I first examined in chapter 1, and money is especially likely to be wasted in urban schools, with their instability, often antagonistic relationships, and conflicts over basic purposes and pedagogy. Many effective practices turn out to require compound rather than simple resources; many...

  9. Appendix A Technical Issues and Variable Defınitions
    (pp. 289-293)
  10. Appendix B
    (pp. 294-316)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 317-352)
    (pp. 353-384)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 385-400)