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Education Reform and the Limits of Policy: Lessons from Michigan Paperback – March 27, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0880993876 ISBN-10: 0880993871

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: W.E. Upjohn Institute (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880993871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880993876
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael F. Addonizio is a professor of education policy at the College of Education, Wayne State University, where he teaches graduate courses in public school finance, the economics of education, and education policy. C. Philip Kearney is a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, where he was a professor in the school of education from 1980 to 1998.

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As a retired educator, I have lost track of why Michigan schools have lost their competitive edge financially. I wanted to educate myself in the background, policies, and current status of Michigan schools. This text provided a balanced and objective explanation so I could understand what has happened.
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The research and methodology are sound and the author paints a clear picture of how the dynamics of school choice, finance, and accountability has unfolded over the last twenty or so years in Michigan. Unfortunately most of the analytical work is done at high levels of data accumulation and so the book does not really tell the story about the effects these policy shifts have had at the local level and some of the tragic consequences these policy manipulations have had on distancing and segregating poor and minority urban children, undermining the social structure the 'neighborhood' school once provided, and a less concerned democratic body politic of parents who send their children out of district and thus have no voice in the school board of the schools their children attend and no interest in holding the local school board accountable in the district in which they reside.
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Michigan began requiring four years of English language arts, four years of mathematics (including Algebra II), three years of science, and three years of social studies for all students in the 2011 graduating class. Additional requirements in world languages take effect with the class of 2016. These standards were motivated by concerns over Michigan's struggling economy and workforce. Prior to this, during Governor Engler's first term 1991-94, new legislation on teacher tenure, charter schools, inter-district school choice, and a complete overhaul of K-12 school finance had passed. Concurrently, at the national level the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, putting schools and districts that failed to make 'adequate yearly progress' for two consecutive years into remedial measures that offered transfers to children wishing to leave, replacement of school staff, conversion of the school to charter status, and provision of supplementary services outside the normal school day. However, for the fiscal year beginning 10/1/2011, education in Michigan was cut because of budget deficits, and when this book was written, more than 40 Michigan school districts were in deficit.

Does more money make schools better? This debate has raged since the Coleman Report of 1966 which found school resources had a surprisingly small effect on measured student achievement. Useful conclusions at this point are that while more money is no guarantee of improvement, real improvement is less likely without it. School funding decisions are driven mostly by politics, not science.

The impact of charter schools on student achievement also remains a contentious question. The greatest challenge arises from the selectivity of charter schools. Several statistical studies demonstrate conflicting findings.
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