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

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691130002
ISBN-10: 0691130000
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Editorial Reviews

Review


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

From the Back Cover


"Massive 'reforms' have poured billions of dollars into our schools, but we have yet to see results in terms of student achievement. It is time that we step back from the current bureaucratic policies that emphasize central control and regulation. We need to reward success not failure. This is exactly the message of this thoughtful book by Hanushek and Lindseth. It is a message that should be shouted from the rooftops of Washington and every state capital."--William J. Bennett, Claremont Institute, former U.S. Secretary of Education


"Eric Hanushek and Alfred Lindseth do a remarkable job of shedding light on how we fund the education of America's children. In many cases, they find that, despite a tremendous increase in our financial investment in public schools during the last several decades, our students are falling farther behind their peers across the globe. We cannot continue to rely on arguments defending the status quo. School funding and education policy should empower leaders to advance innovative reform and ensure direct accountability for student achievement."--Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida


Hanushek and Lindseth have penned a clear, empirically impressive, and insightful critique of court-driven efforts to improve public schools. This is a book destined to reshape debates about the role judges can and should play in twenty-first-century school reform."--Frederick Hess, author of Common Sense School Reform


"This is a must-read for policymakers, parents, and the public. Too many people fail to understand the seriousness of the educational crises we face. Too many think that tinkering with the current system will be enough. This book not only sets out the dimensions of the problem clearly and forcefully but also provides a path for improvement."--Roy Romer, chairman of Strong Schools America, former Los Angeles school superintendent, and former Colorado governor


"The way we fund schooling in America defies both common sense and fundamental decency. However, as Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses shows, most recent efforts to reform school finance haven't made nearly the difference their proponents promised. For those interested in improving results in public schools, this is a must read. Everyone--including me--will find something to disagree with. But the book is thoughtful, provocative, and helpful in framing the core elements of a more promising approach."--Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust


"This book makes an important contribution to the subjects of school finance and school reform and the litigation surrounding them. The authors, a widely cited academic economist and an experienced lawyer who have both been involved in this litigation in many states, make a good team."--Michael Podgursky, author of Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (May 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691130000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691130002
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
This book is a very thoughtful and detailed analysis of the nation's school funding woes. In addition to offering a compelling critique of the manner in which educational dollars have been unthinkly pumped into the educational system (with scant attention to the return on investment), the authors lay out suggested reforms that could help us get more bang for our collective buck.
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Format: Hardcover
The book Schoolhouses... is not an exercise in cheerleading for one of the many partisan agendas in the national debate over reforming and improving American public education. Instead, it is a dispassionate and widely inclusive assembly of fact and research, which informs that debate more fully by far than any of the numerous advocates who do carry an agenda.
As a one-time senior educator and current worrier about the future of my grandchildren and their peers, I find this the most informative and specifically constructive book, or source of any kind, I have yet encountered.
We have here facts from areas often overlooked but directly pertinent. "Fixing" our public education has been going on for several decades, so Hanushek and Lindseth are able to consider the results of policies set by political leaderships, by legislators and by judicial fiats. Lessons, both positive and negative, abound and are described.
Despite the public flurry over the years, however, the authors lament the paucity of detailed data that reveal what is happening with the growth of each child's intellectual strengths in the classroom. The data that do exist are sufficient to show that all the efforts taken, funds spent, and angst over education have brought us little or no improvement. And the authors make a persuasive case for predicting the impact on our economy and its future growth.
Meanwhile, as the US has flatlined the quality of our children's education and therefore their future for many decades, the majority of the industrialized world has passed us up.
The evidence assembled by Hanushek and Lindseth points a clear route out of stagnation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Coherence emerges from this thoughtful synthesis of reform initiatives that have come from lawyers, legislators, economists, activists and school district leaders. The author has been both a watchful observer, and in some cases, an involved participant. This gives him the benefit of both the insider's view and the outsider's perspective. The perfect book for anyone who cares to better understand the forces at work when educators, legislators and lawyers wrestle over school funding. The author is free of the ideological blinders that have hindered the debate.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors have written a helpful and candid appraisal of the problems (and solutions for) in public education. They have included data in a useful way and yet the text is written so that the average reader does not have to unravel the "inside baseball" sacred cows that are always paraded out when these discussions take place. I would say that many "career" educators and interest groups like teachers unions and politicians will not admit the reality of the authors's conclusions and prescriptions. If the book gets traction in the marketplace they will likely be hammered by those that believe "more money" is always the answer. Too bad the federal government is continuing to exert it's strangle hold on public education--that hisorically was premised on local control--but we all know you just "follow the money. Great book and very timely.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hanusheck and Lindseth ask a very interesting question. Suppose you could go back in time to 1960 and offer educators the following deal: we will quadruple your per-capita, inflation-adjusted budget for education. We will also make sure that schools with large minority populations receive equal funding. But once we do this you will have to accept personal responsibility for the state of American schools. You may not continue to blame a lack of funds or other factors beyond your school. The authors speculate that educators would jump at the deal and I agree. Fifty years later the public has kept up their end of the bargain but educators have not taken responsibility for the dismal state of education.

The central theme of this book is that the public has to make educators take responsibility. The teachers unions are too powerful of an entrenched special interest to budge. They offer numerous suggestions based around supplying public oversight. They defend No Child Left Behind. They show that states already had a trend towards providing oversight prior to the law, and those states which had real consequences for bad schools produced the best results. The early results of NCLB showed small improvements in school quality.

They also criticize the movement towards smaller classes. They point out that support for small classes is largely based on the Tennessee STAR study and it was poorly designed. Hundreds of other studies on class size disagree. California has moved to smaller classes but education has not improved as a result. In fact, it may have gotten worse, at least for the poor. The movement towards smaller classes meant that schools had to hire extra teachers. Experienced teachers left inner-city schools for the suburbs.
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