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Published on September 28, 2007

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Insurmountable Obstacles? The Evolution of Education Policy and Politics in the United States, 1950 to 2007 :  Insurmountable Obstacles? The Evolution of Education Policy and Politics in the United States, 1950 to 2007 William Lowe Boyd Penn State University Invited Presentation to the Politics of Education Association at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 12, 2007 How Much Have Things Changed?:  How Much Have Things Changed? Looking back over my years in the field of education, I’m amazed at the changes that have occurred. “That will never happen” often DID happen! What accounts for such remarkable and unanticipated changes? IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER:  IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER The Origins of Paradigm Shifts “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” [continued, next page] IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER:  IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back... Sooner or later, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.” -- John Maynard Keynes (1936) IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER:  IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER "The real difficulty in changing any enterprise lies not in developing new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.” -- John Maynard Keynes How Paradigms Shift: Ideas Matter:  How Paradigms Shift: Ideas Matter Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) Mark Blyth, Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (2002) What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? Legacy of Progressives’ model of public education Efforts toward the ‘reform of a reform’ (Tyack) Free market and rational choice theory critiques of big government and public bureaucracies Kenneth Arrow (1951); Anthony Downs (1957); Milton Friedman (1962); Buchanan & Tullock (1962) Criticism of public agencies, their lack of a ‘bottom line’ and accountability Fueled later rise of Neoconservative movement What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? America’s individualism and anemic welfare state Public education carries too much of the weight (Hochschild & Scovronick, 1995; Rothstein ‘Out of Balance,’ 2002) Neoconservatism & successful conservative think-tank effort since 1973 to sell the free market and critique of big government (Blyth, 2002, 156-161) What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? The Cold War and Sputnik crisis The schools were to blame for the Soviets getting ahead of us in space NDEA of 1958 Civil rights, equality, and liberation movements Brown v. Board of Education (1954) “I have a dream” - M. L. King (1963) Coleman’s “Equality of Educational Opportunity” Report (1966) Controversial finding that schools “don’t make a difference” Resistance to this finding leads, in time, to the “no excuses” idea that schools “make all the difference” Embraced by both left (Education Trust) & right (The Heritage Foundation) [Rothstein, 2002] What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? The short-lived ‘Great Society’ & ‘War on Poverty’ (1964-1968) Disillusionment & reaction: A neoconservative is “a liberal who was mugged by reality” - Irving Kristol ‘A Nation at Risk’ (1983) The ‘Sputnik of the 1980s’: the ‘Toyota Problem’ Our schools are endangering us! The economy improved in the Clinton years, but schools received no credit. Excellence and choice Chester Finn - father of the “excellence” movement Boyd & Kerchner (1988) PEA Yearbook Chubb & Moe (1990) Politics, Markets, & America’s Schools What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? Accountability and standards Systemic reform (Smith & O’Day, 1991, PEA Yrbk) America 2000 - 6 National Goals - 1992 Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994 No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 Call for National Standards What Have Been the Big Ideas?:  What Have Been the Big Ideas? A “flat world,” free trade and globalization America’s schools as “the front line in the battle for our economic future,” a battle we are losing High skills or low wages? OR High skills AND low wages? The public schools, somehow, have to compensate for globalization (e.g., prepare students for jobs that can’t be ‘outsourced’) Global warming and the environmental crisis Could lead to a redefinition of the economy and future toward which policy and education should move us This would be a really BIG change! IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER:  IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES MATTER Reflecting on what has happened: Insurmountable Obstacles are Not as Insurmountable as the Appear to Be Amazing changes have occurred in American education policy & politics since 1950 These changes can be arrayed along continuums seldom fully achieved, with substantial variation depending upon locale Changes in the study of educational politics:  Changes in the study of educational politics A shift from a focus in the 1960s on the separation of education from politics (its uniqueness as an ‘autonomous’ sphere of governance) and on its domination by professionals within public education to developments that have nullified both propositions Politicians (mayors & governors) and external actors reasserting control over education Education too important to be controlled just by educators Professionals challenged; held accountable via testing, national standards, NCLB requirements Changes in field of education:  Changes in field of education From a focus on inputs to outcomes From a “logic of confidence” to a “logic of consequences” From weak teachers organizations to potent unions From students & teachers with few rights & little power to activist students & teachers From top-down management to shared leadership From lockstep seniority ladders and “all teachers are equal” to differentiated staffing and compensation of teachers Changes in field of education:  Changes in field of education From local control of K-12 education policy to increasing state and federal control of education From no federal control to NCLB! From local control of the curriculum to national standards From disconnected goals, curricula, and tests to systemic alignment From report cards on kids to report cards on schools, districts, and states From “schools don’t make a difference” to (equally invalid idea that) “schools make all the difference” (Rothstein, 2002) Changes in field of education:  Changes in field of education From acceptance of the achievement gap to disaggregated AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) with teeth From opinion-based to evidence-based, data-driven decision-making & evaluation studies, & scientific “controlled trials” From professional control and restricted access to information to increasingly open systems and growing influence and control for external actors and citizens Changes in field of education:  Changes in field of education From education as a ‘back-burner’ issue to one of great political importance From the separation of education from politics to increasing political control the “reform of a reform” (Tyack) Mayors taking over; use of non-educators as CEOs; Institutional change in urban school governance From temporary ‘windows of opportunity’ for education reform to perpetual reform “A Nation at Risk” - a brief window of opportunity? The ‘Issue-Attention Cycle” - Anthony Downs Changes in field of education:  Changes in field of education From public education as a near monopoly to diversified school choice From on-site schooling to cyber schooling the “disintermediation” of public education From public education as a sacred cow to a sweeping re-examination of the concept of public education and of the means for its delivery “Why We Still Need Public Schools: Public Education for the Common Good” Center on Education Policy (CEP) The First Big Surprise: ESEA & Growth of Federal Control:  The First Big Surprise: ESEA & Growth of Federal Control Between 1862 and 1963, Congress considered unrestricted general aid to schools thirty-six times and rejected it thirty-six times (Kirst, 2004). Munger & Fenno (1962), in National Politics and Federal Aid to Education, could not see how a Federal Aid bill could be passed. The racial, religious & federal control issues seemed insurmountable. Yet, in 1965 ESEA was enacted. How ESEA happened:  How ESEA happened Assassination of JFK 1964 election gave LBJ a huge Democratic majority in Congress Passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 muted the racial issue White House worked deals to gain Catholic and NEA acceptance of a federal aid bill. Major focus of ESEA on poor children (Title I) reflects influence of Michael Harrington’s The Other America (1962) Evolution of ESEA:  Evolution of ESEA Title VI of ESEA of 1965 said nothing in the Act authorized the federal government to “exercise any direction, supervision or control” over education. Yet, in 2001, ESEA was reauthorized as NCLB, violating every pledge in Title VI LBJ would have been amazed by NCLB (Manna, 2007, pp. 4 & 117). Yet, Sundquist (1968, p. 216) recognized ESEA’s potential for an expanding federal role. A Second Surprise: The Paradigm Shift From Inputs to Outcomes & Accountability:  A Second Surprise: The Paradigm Shift From Inputs to Outcomes & Accountability A far-reaching paradigm shift, only recently fully appreciated. From a “logic of confidence” to a “logic of consequences” Boyd & Immegart, 1979; Boyd & Crowson, 1981 This shift has changed the requirements of policy, practice, & research See James Guthrie (2006) “Multi-Purpose Education Doctorates No Longer Palatable.” NCLB’s focus on outcomes and requirements for scientific research and evidence. A Second Surprise: The Paradigm Shift From Inputs to Outcomes & Accountability:  A Second Surprise: The Paradigm Shift From Inputs to Outcomes & Accountability Most changes, especially in governance, have had little effect on the technical core of schools: teaching & learning. The outcomes emphasis could improve teaching & learning, if more beneficial testing and accountability schemes can be devised. Eva Baker’s 2007 AERA presidential address: “The End(s) of Testing A Third Surprise: The Choice & Excellence Movement is here to stay:  A Third Surprise: The Choice & Excellence Movement is here to stay From a glimmer in Milton Friedman’s mind in the 1950s to today. Still unpopular with many public educators, but less so than when Kerchner & I published our 1988 Yearbook. Then not politically correct to discuss school choice as an option -- This was abetting the enemy. Assumption seemed to be ‘it will go away’ if ignored Choice still considered traitorous in some circles, despite collapse of belief in “The Once Best System” Choice & Excellence:  Choice & Excellence Work by many think tanks and policy entrepreneurs to advance the choice idea (Mintrom, 2000) Friedman Foundation & Free to Choose book & video (1977) Joe Nathan & Ted Kolderie in Minnesota Chubb & Moe’s Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, published by Brookings (1990), helped legitimate the idea Choice & Excellence:  Choice & Excellence Charter schools far more popular than voucher plans Privately funded vouchers to demonstrate the idea Constitutional barriers not insurmountable Charters becoming part of urban systems Philadelphia & Los Angeles KIPP to ‘go to scale’ in Houston From 8 KIPP schools with 1,700 students to 42 schools with 21,000 students in 10 years A Fourth Surprise: Welcome to National Standards:  A Fourth Surprise: Welcome to National Standards From the sacred cow of local control to national standards Belief in political impossibility of national standards From de facto national standards to real national standards Nationalizing influences &‘The folklore of local control’ - Roald Campbell (1959) National Standards getting steadily increasing attention in Education Week A Fifth Surprise in the Making?: Differentiated staffing & compensation:  A Fifth Surprise in the Making?: Differentiated staffing & compensation From ‘all teachers are equal’ to some are ‘more equal than others’ National Board Certified teachers Teacher performance pay Allen Odden’s efforts http://cpre.wceruw.org/tcomp/ Overview by Heneman et al. (2007) ‘New center asks: Does merit pay work?’ Education Week (2007, March 19) Will teachers unions ever accept this stuff? Denver case Conclusion: Education policy developments can be unpredictable:  Conclusion: Education policy developments can be unpredictable Don’t be too quick to assume “That’ll never happen.” The moral of this story can be drawn from James Thurber’s fable, “The Unicorn in the Garden.” His payoff line is: “Don't count your boobies until they’re hatched.” (http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/unicorn1.html) References:  References Arrow, K. J. (1951). Social choice and Individual Values. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Blyth, M. (2002). Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. Boyd, W. L. (1978, December). ''The Study of Educational Policy and Politics: Much Ado About Nothing?'' Teachers College Record, 80, 2, pp. 249-271. Boyd, W. L. & Crowson, R. L. (1981). ''The Changing Conception and Practice of Public School Administration.” In D. Berliner (ed.), Review of Research in Education, Vol. 9. Washington, D.C.: American Educational Research Association, pp. 311-373. Boyd, W. L. & Immegart, G. (1979). "Education's Turbulent Environment and Problem-Finding: Lines of Convergence'' In W. L. Boyd & G. L. Immegart (eds.), Problem-Finding In Educational Administration: Trends In Research And Theory. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath. Slide32:  Boyd, W. L. & Kerchner, C. T. (eds.) (1988). The Politics of Excellence and Choice in Education. New York: Falmer Press. Buchanan, J. M. & Tullock, G. (1962). The Calculus of Consent. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Campbell, R. F. (1959, Spring). The folklore of local school control, The School Review, 67, 1, 1-16. Chubb, J. & Moe. T. (1990). Politics, Markets and America’s Schools. Washington, DC: Brookings. Coleman, J. S. et al. (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Downs, A. (1957). An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row. Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Friedman, T. (2005). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Guthrie, J. W. (2006, Summer) “Multi-Purpose Education Doctorates No Longer Palatable.” UCEA Review, pp. 24-26. Slide33:  Harrington, M. (1962) The Other America: Poverty in the United States. New York: Macmillan. Henneman, H. III, Milanowski, A., & Kimball, S. (2007, February) Teacher performance pay: Synthesis of plans, research, and guidelines for practice. CPRE Policy Brief, RB-46, 1-15. Hochschild, J. L. & Scovronick, N. (2003). The American Dream and the Public Schools. New York: Oxford University Press. Iannaccone, L. (1967). Politics in Education. New York: Center for Applied Research in Education. Keynes, J. M. (1936). The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. London: Hartcourt Brace. Kirst, M. W. (2004) “Turning Points: A History of American School Governance.” In N. Epstein (Ed.), Who’s In Charge Here? The Tangled Web of School Governance and Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Kuhn, T. S. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Manna, P. (2006). School’s In: Federalism and the National Education Agenda. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. Slide34:  Michaelsen, J. (1977, February). Revision, Bureaucracy and School Reform. School Review, 85, 2, 229-246. Mintrom, M. (2000). Policy Entrepreneurs and School Choice. Washington, DC: Georgetown U. Press. Munger, F. J. & Fenno, R. F. (1962). National Politics and Federal Aid to Education. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Peterson, P. E. (1974). The Politics of American Education. Review of Research in Education, Vol. 2, pp. 348-389. Richard Rothstein (2002). “Out of Balance: Our Understanding of How Schools Affect Society and How Society Affects Schools.” 30th Anniversary Essay, 30th Anniversary Conference, “Traditions of Scholarship in Education,” The Spencer Foundation. http://www.spencer.org/publications/conferences/traditions_of_scholarships/traditions_of_scholships.pdf Smith, M. & O’Day, J. (1991). Systemic school reform. In S. H. Fuhrman & B. Malen (eds.), The Politics of Curriculum and Testing. New York: Falmer Press. Sundquist. J. L. (1968). Politics and Policy in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson Years. Washington, DC: Brookings. Slide35:  Thurber, J. (1940). The Unicorn in the Garden. In J. Thurber, Fables for Our Time & Famous Poems Illustrated. New York: Harper and Brothers. (http://english.glendale.cc.ca.us/unicorn1.html) Viadero, D. (2007, March 19). New center asks: Does merit pay work? Education Week.

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