Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik

Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik

by Chester E. Finn
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
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Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik

Few people have been more involved in shaping postwar U.S. education reforms--or dissented from some of them more effectively--than Chester Finn. Assistant secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, and an aide to politicians as different as Richard Nixon and Daniel Moynihan, Finn has also been a high school teacher, an education professor, a prolific and best-selling writer, a think-tank analyst, a nonprofit foundation president, and both a Democrat and Republican. This remarkably varied career has given him an extraordinary insider's view of every significant school-reform movement of the past four decades, from racial integration to No Child Left Behind. In Troublemaker, Finn has written a vivid history of postwar education reform that is also the personal story of one of the foremost players--and mavericks--in American education.

Finn tells how his experiences have shaped his changing views of the three major strands of postwar school reform: standards-driven, choice-driven, and profession-driven. Of the three, Finn now believes that a combination of choice and standards has the greatest potential, but he favors this approach more on pragmatic than ideological grounds, arguing that parents should be given more options at the same time that schools are allowed more flexibility and held to higher performance norms. He also explains why education reforms of all kinds are so difficult to implement, and he draws valuable lessons from their frequent failure.

Clear-eyed yet optimistic, Finn ultimately gives grounds for hope that the best of today's bold initiatives--from charter schools to technology to makeovers of school-system governance--are finally beginning to make a difference.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691129907
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 02/04/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part I: Early Days 1

Chapter 1: Schoolkid in the Fifties 7

Chapter 2: Into the Sixties 14

Chapter 3: Becoming an Educator 26

Part II: The Seventies 33

Chapter 4: White House Days 41

Chapter 5: Out of Washington 56

Chapter 6: The Politics of Aiding Private Schools 66

Chapter 7: A Federal Department of Education? 77

Chapter 8: Becoming a Republican 87

Part III: The Eighties 95

Chapter 9: Quality Gains Traction 101

Chapter 10: Educators Awaken 108

Chapter 11: Professing in Tennessee 118

Chapter 12: Inside the Beast 125

Chapter 13: The Quest for Better Information 134

Chapter 14: Goals, Standards, and Markets 149

Part IV: The Nineties 165

Chapter 15: Bipartisan Reform in Action--and Inaction 169

Chapter 16: Charters and Vouchers 181

Chapter 17: International Alarums, Contentious Responses 187

Chapter 18: Whittling and Think- tanking 194

Chapter 19: Clinton, Goals, and Testing 204

Chapter 20: Priests, Professionals, and Politicians 211

Chapter 21: Choices and Summits 216

Chapter 22: Back to Dayton 224

Chapter 23: Leaving No Child Behind 237

Chapter 24: Shaky Tripods 246

Chapter 25: The Burden of Choice 261

Chapter 26: Technology and Governance 273

Chapter 27: Teachers, Time, and Money 283

Chapter 28: Still Learning 296

Epilogue: Two Little Girls 307
Glossary 313
Notes 319
Index 347

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