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Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century

Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform

Paul Manna
Patrick McGuinn
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    America's fragmented, decentralized, politicized, and bureaucratic system of education governance is a major impediment to school reform. In this important new book, a number of leading education scholars, analysts, and practitioners show that understanding the impact of specific policy changes in areas such as standards, testing, teachers, or school choice requires careful analysis of the broader governing arrangements that influence their content, implementation, and impact.

    Education Governance for the Twenty-First Centurycomprehensively assesses the strengths and weaknesses of what remains of the old in education governance, scrutinizes how traditional governance forms are changing, and suggests how governing arrangements might be further altered to produce better educational outcomes for children.

    Paul Manna, Patrick McGuinn, and their colleagues provide the analysis and alternatives that will inform attempts to adapt nineteenth and twentieth century governance structures to the new demands and opportunities of today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2395-0
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Education Governance in America: Who Leads When Everyone Is in Charge?
    (pp. 1-18)

    “The buck stops here!” So stated the famous sign displayed on President Harry Truman’s desk in the Oval Office. In embracing that phrase, Truman asserted boldly that as America’s leader, a wartime president for much of his tenure, he was unambiguously in charge and prepared to make tough decisions to protect the nation’s interests. In short, Truman believed it was his duty to govern. Although the leadership style of “Give ’em Hell” Harry has inspired generations of officials across levels of government, the complexity of governing America’s diverse society means that even the most energized leaders may fail to meet...


    • 2 The Failures of U.S. Education Governance Today
      (pp. 21-35)

      To anyone concerned with the state of America’s schools, one of the more alarming experiences of the past few decades has been seeing waves of important reforms and promising innovations crash on the rocks of failure. Charter schools have popped up all over the landscape; vouchers are being implemented in more and more places; massive federal initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have invested billions of dollars in fixing our schools. Yet America’s student achievement results remain dismal, especially at the twelfth-grade level. Millions of children still cannot read satisfactorily, do math at an acceptable...

    • 3 How Current Education Governance Distorts Financial Decisionmaking
      (pp. 36-57)

      By any terms, public K–12 education is a sizable operation. The $584 billion U.S. public elementary and secondary system takes in more money than even the largest U.S. corporations—more than ExxonMobil, Fannie Mae, AIG, or Hewlett Packard. Its 6 million–member workforce is four times the size of total active military personnel. Funds for public education come in from different sources, the largest share generated by states (48 percent) and then by local revenues (44 percent), and the smallest (8 percent) from federal allocations. Unlike any of the companies or federally controlled operations (like the military), public education...

    • 4 Governance Challenges to Innovators within the System
      (pp. 58-77)

      The superintendent of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, school district saw his proposal to invest scarce funding toward innovative programs blocked when interest groups lobbied the elected school board to instead shore up more-traditional programs and leave redundant jobs in place. In Oregon, a superintendent in the Springfield Public Schools had to cut technical programs for her high school students but could not get access to similar courses offered at a local community college, owing to a lack of coordination between K–12 and higher education in the state. And in Indianapolis, the mayor wanted to take responsibility for city...

    • 5 Governance Challenges to Innovators outside the System
      (pp. 78-104)

      Just north of Central Park in New York City, two schools share a building. Public School 149 is operated by the New York City Department of Education, and Harlem Success Academy, a “No Excuses” charter school, is run by the Success Charter Network. Both serve students from the surrounding community, which is overwhelmingly black and low income.¹ In 2010 Harlem Success third graders (the earliest grade tested by the state) scored in the top 1 percent of schools in the state (outperforming their peers from wealthy suburbs) on the state’s English language arts exam, while P.S. 149 scored in the...


    • 6 Rethinking District Governance
      (pp. 107-129)

      The nation’s nearly 14,000 school boards are charged with providing the leadership, policy direction, and oversight necessary to promote excellent schooling. As the vehicle for parents and voters to shape school decisions, school boards have long been defended as bastions of democratic government and local control. In his 2010 bookSchool Boards in America: A Flawed Exercise in Democracy, Gene Maeroff notes, “The idea of governing from the grass roots adds to the appeal that local school boards have with the public. Too many Americans would consider any other arrangement as undemocratic, however inaccurate this notion of democracy may be.”¹...

    • 7 Interstate Governance of Standards and Testing
      (pp. 130-155)

      Compared with many other industrialized countries, the U.S. education governance system remains highly decentralized. In much of Europe and Asia, nationally administered student examinations are an entirely unremarkable feature of public education. By contrast, in the United States, even voluntary national standards have aroused intense controversy.¹ Standards-based reform, one of the dominant education policy ideas since the 1980s, began in the states. Even after the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 required states to have particular kinds of standards, testing, and accountability policies as a condition for continued receipt of federal compensatory education funds, the actual setting of the...

    • 8 Education Governance in Performance-Based Federalism
      (pp. 156-177)

      In his last public policy speech of his two-term presidency, George W. Bush chose to highlight his accomplishments in education reform at the General Philip Kearny School in Philadelphia. Seven years after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the president claimed that “fewer students are falling behind” and “more students are achieving high standards.”¹ Addressing the concern that testing is punitive, the president commented, “How can you possibly determine whether a child can read at grade level if you don’t test? To me, measurement is the gateway to true reform.”² This debate over the benefits and...

    • 9 The Rise of Education Executives in the White House, State House, and Mayor’s Office
      (pp. 178-206)

      In an array of settings and at all levels of our federal system, elected executives are increasing their formal power and political engagement with issues relating to education and school reform. In some cases they are leading the demand for a stronger role; in some cases they are responding to such a demand voiced by others.

      On the contemporary scene, it is mayoral control of schools that has received the most attention, with proponents arguing that it catalyzes reform and opponents complaining that it marginalizes parent and community groups. But the shift of formal power from school boards to mayors...


    • 10 English Perspectives on Education Governance and Delivery
      (pp. 209-230)

      The perspectives I bring to bear in this chapter are based on a number of different experiences during my career. The first was as an official for the National Union of Teachers between 1985 and 1993, during which time the Conservative governments of the era introduced a series of radical changes to the education system in England. The second was as a professor of education at the universities of Keele and London in the mid-1990s, when my research agenda combined history with school and system improvement and involved me, for the first time, in looking outside the United Kingdom. The...

    • 11 Education Governance in Canada and the United States
      (pp. 231-251)

      How best to assign policy responsibilities in federal systems has long been a concern of scholars and public administrators. In the United States, Alice M. Rivlin has proposed scaling back the federal role in many policy areas and establishing clear divisions of responsibility between the federal government and the states.¹ She argues that such reforms would enhance government effectiveness and accountability. Rivlin recommends that most federal education programs be abolished and that education be treated as a state responsibility.

      Education reform involves experimentation, adaptation to local conditions, accountability from officials on the scene, and community engagement, tasks Rivlin thinks can...

    • 12 Education Governance in Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 252-274)

      Political leaders, public intellectuals, and business elites have long recognized the importance of education for social cohesion, the transmission of social values, and economic advancement. This explains the widespread development in the nineteenth century of systems for universal public education and the efforts made worldwide in the twentieth century to emulate, expand, and enhance those systems. The present era shares with the past a relentless quest on the part of governments everywhere to ensure that education of suitable quality is made available to as many children and young people as possible. But the present era is also distinct.

      It is...

    • 13 Governance Lessons from the Health Care and Environment Sectors
      (pp. 275-298)

      Hope springs eternal for finding the right governance mix of political will, policy tools, and administrative capacity to address serious education policy problems. A staggering body of publications continues to emanate from an ever-proliferating set of think tanks, advocacy organizations, and schools of education. Many constitute a direct response to the decades-long lamentation that American public education performs at a disappointing level when compared with other nations. They join the quest for, in David Tyack’s words, the “one best system,” often focusing on a singular element that might propel America from the middle toward the top of the international pack...


    • 14 Toward a Coherent and Fair Funding System
      (pp. 301-328)

      The public education system in the United States has long been marred by inequity. African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, English-language learners, students with disabilities, and low-income students historically have borne the brunt of inequitable treatment, and many continue to do so today. On national reading and math assessments in 2011, these students scored at least two grade levels behind their more advantaged peers.¹ The historical tension in this country over the purpose of public education, whether for democratic citizenship or for vocational and economic security, continues today, But it is undeniable that inequitable schooling undermines our children’s opportunity for successful...

    • 15 Picturing a Different Governance Structure for Public Education
      (pp. 329-352)
      PAUL T. HILL

      Education governance is always difficult in the United States.¹ Although K–12 education is administratively set apart from other public services, it is subject to the vagaries of school board elections and the pressures of interest-group politics.

      Subjecting education to electoral and interest-group politics has consequences. Winners at the ballot box and in the struggle for control of bureaucracies try to dominate schools with policies and mandates.² School heads and teachers, as the lowest-ranking bureaucrats in a tall stack of policymakers and administrators, face many constraints as they try to meet the needs of the children in front of them....

    • 16 From Theory to Results in Governance Reform
      (pp. 353-374)

      Structural change that creates environments or processes that generate better outcomes is the holy grail of governance reform. One reason that structural governance reforms are attractive to education policymakers is that they might be a solution to Elmore’s paradox, that almost every education reform works with thirty students, but nothing works with 30,000.¹ The advantage of structural reforms is that they are scalable; that is, they work at the macro level by changing the environment or processes for all individuals within the system. Such is the promise of governance reform in education, but for such reforms to succeed they must...

    • 17 The Tall Task of Education Governance Reform
      (pp. 375-392)

      Education governance in the United States is fundamentally broken. On that point the authors in this volume—along with many others across the ideological spectrum, including scholars, policymakers, education leaders, school officials, teachers, and parents—readily agree. Several decades of intense school reform efforts in the United States have produced at best marginal gains in student achievement, and there is a mounting sense that the nation’s unique and fragmented system of education governance may well pose a major barrier to greater improvement. A recent report by the National Center on Education and the Economy, for example, concludes that the country’s...

  9. About the Authors
    (pp. 393-400)
  10. Index
    (pp. 401-424)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 425-425)