Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America's Public Schools

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Overview

Spurred by court rulings requiring states to increase public-school funding, the United States now spends more per student on K-12 education than almost any other country. Yet American students still achieve less than their foreign counterparts, their performance has been flat for decades, millions of them are failing, and poor and minority students remain far behind their more advantaged peers. In this book, Eric Hanushek and Alfred Lindseth trace the history of reform efforts and conclude that the principal focus of both courts and legislatures on ever-increasing funding has done little to improve student achievement. Instead, Hanushek and Lindseth propose a new approach: a performance-based system that directly links funding to success in raising student achievement. This system would empower and motivate educators to make better, more cost-effective decisions about how to run their schools, ultimately leading to improved student performance. Hanushek and Lindseth have been important participants in the school funding debate for three decades. Here, they draw on their experience, as well as the best available research and data, to show why improving schools will require overhauling the way financing, incentives, and accountability work in public education.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post - Jay Mathews
It is enlightening, maddening, hopeful, frustrating and amazingly informative. . . . The book provides a terrific summary of how the U.S. education system has changed since World War II. It makes a telling argument about how much our well-being depends on our schools. It eviscerates the policymaking that has ruled public education for the last half century. And it buries for all time the notion that getting the courts to fix our schools has any chance of success.
Education Gadfly - Chester Finn
This important new book by economist Eric Hanushek and attorney Alfred Lindseth is the most cogent and comprehensive analysis of America's school-finance challenges that I have ever seen.
From the Publisher
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

"It is enlightening, maddening, hopeful, frustrating and amazingly informative. . . . The book provides a terrific summary of how the U.S. education system has changed since World War II. It makes a telling argument about how much our well-being depends on our schools. It eviscerates the policymaking that has ruled public education for the last half century. And it buries for all time the notion that getting the courts to fix our schools has any chance of success."—Jay Mathews, Washington Post

"Hanushek and Lindseth conclusively enlighten policy makers, professors, school administrators, legal and educational researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students of school administration by providing an exhaustive discussion of decades of school funding and the results for student achievement. . . . The authors' experience and expertise in school funding, research, and data analysis and their ideas for the future of funding and accountability make this an absolute must read."Choice

"This important new book by economist Eric Hanushek and attorney Alfred Lindseth is the most cogent and comprehensive analysis of America's school-finance challenges that I have ever seen."—Chester Finn, Jr., Education Gadfly

Washington Post
It is enlightening, maddening, hopeful, frustrating and amazingly informative. . . . The book provides a terrific summary of how the U.S. education system has changed since World War II. It makes a telling argument about how much our well-being depends on our schools. It eviscerates the policymaking that has ruled public education for the last half century. And it buries for all time the notion that getting the courts to fix our schools has any chance of success.
— Jay Mathews
Choice
Hanushek and Lindseth conclusively enlighten policy makers, professors, school administrators, legal and educational researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students of school administration by providing an exhaustive discussion of decades of school funding and the results for student achievement. . . . The authors' experience and expertise in school funding, research, and data analysis and their ideas for the future of funding and accountability make this an absolute must read.
Education Gadfly
This important new book by economist Eric Hanushek and attorney Alfred Lindseth is the most cogent and comprehensive analysis of America's school-finance challenges that I have ever seen.
— Chester Finn, Jr.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691130002
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Eric A. Hanushek is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a leading figure in the study of the economics of education. Alfred A. Lindseth is a senior partner with the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, and is a nationally recognized expert in school finance law.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables xiii
Preface xv
Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Just How Important Is Education? 10
Education and Financial Achievement 11
Education and Poverty 15
Education and the Nation's Economic Well-Being 16
Testing Student Skills 20
Quality of U.S. Colleges 21

Chapter 2: U.S. Education at a Crossroads 23
Years of School Completed 23
Achievement Levels (or the Mastery of Cognitive Skills) 29
International Comparisons 36
Achievement Gaps 38

Chapter 3: The Political Responses 44
Increased Spending and Resources for K-12 Education 45
Increased Equity in Funding for K-12 Education 57
The Standards and Accountability Movement 71
Increased School Choice Options 76
Teacher Certification 80
Conclusions 82

Chapter 4: Court Interventions in School Finance 83
Federal Desegregation Litigation and Milliken II Remedies 84
"Equity" Cases 88
"Adequacy" Cases 95

Chapter 5: Practical Issues with Educational Adequacy 118
Defining an "Adequate" Education 118
The Element of Causation 129
Problems Relating to Remedy 136
Problems Inherent in the Makeup and Processes of the Courts 139

Chapter 6: The Effectiveness of Judicial Remedies 145
Kentucky 147
Wyoming 151
New Jersey 157
Massachusetts 166

Chapter 7: Science and School Finance Decision Making 171
A Simple Decision Model 172
How Much Is Enough? 173
How Should the Money Be Spent? 200
Using Science More Effectively 211

Chapter 8: A Performance-Based Funding System 217
Guiding Principles: Back to Basics 218
A Performance-Based Funding System 219
Big City Schools 258
Conclusions 260

Chapter 9: Making Performance-Based Funding a Reality 263
The Persistence of Illusory Spending Solutions 263
Support for the Status Quo and Resistance to Change 268
Some Current Countervailing Forces 275
Encouraging True Reform: Mutually Agreed Bargains 279
Changing the Focus of the Courts 281
Mobilizing for the Future 287

Notes 291
Legal Citations 353
Federal Court Cases (arranged in alphabetical order) 353
State Court Cases (arranged by state and, within states, chronologically) 354
Sources for Figures and Tables 361
References 363
Index 395

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