An Education in Politics: The Origins and Evolution of No Child Left Behind

Overview

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 ...

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An Education in Politics: the origins and evolution of No Child Left Behind

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
True to its title, Rhodes's (political science, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) straightforward account of the push for and against federal government involvement in public education details the major players and influences that led to the standards-based education policies in place today. From its inception as a U.S. institution, public school education has often been troubled by issues of unevenness from location to location across the country, with everyone from local government officials to venture capitalists weighing in on what students need to learn to keep the United States competitive. Synthesizing history, anecdotal evidence, and theory, Rhodes explains the complex and often frictional interactions among business and civil rights leaders, politicians, and other interest groups seeking to influence education policy. VERDICT Recommended for students of education and political science and for anyone interested in understanding or influencing education legislation.—Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs.HISTORY
From the Publisher

"From its inception as a U.S. institution, public school education has often been troubled by issues of unevenness from location to location across the country, with everyone from local government officials to venture capitalists weighing in on what students need to learn to keep the United States competitive. Synthesizing history, anecdotal evidence, and theory, Rhodes explains the complex and often frictional interactions among business and civil rights leaders, politicians, and other interest groups seeking to influence education policy. Recommended for students of education and political science and for anyone interested in understanding or influencing education legislation."–Library Journal

"In An Education in Politics, Jesse H. Rhodes offers a valuable new perspective—'institutionally bounded entrepreneurship'—for understanding the historical evolution of federal education policy. The book provides an important reassessment of the source and durability of the modern school reform movement that should be of great interest to scholars, policymakers, and the general public."—Patrick McGuinn, Drew University, author of No Child Left Behind and the Transformation of Federal Education Policy, 1965–2005

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jesse H. Rhodes is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Explaining the Development of American Education Policymaking

1. The Structure of American Education Policy before 1980

2. A New Direction in American Education Policy, 1980–1988

3. Federal School Reform Builds Momentum, 1989–1992

4. A New Federal Role Is Born, 1993–1994

5. The Road to No Child Left Behind, 1995–2002

6. "Yes We Can" Improve America's Schools? From No Child Left Behind to President Obama's Education Initiatives, 2003–2011

Conclusion: Institutionally Bounded Entrepreneurship and the Future of American Education Policymaking

List of Abbreviations
Notes
Index

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