This book examines reform in American education over the past fifty years and against this backdrop presents a compelling analysis of why contemporary voucher plans and charter schools have yet to fulfill the expectations of their advocates. It is the only book to date to attempt a comprehensive synthesis and analysis of the emerging research base on vouchers and charter schools. Suitable for courses in school policy, school reform, school leadership, or educational issues, it will also be of interest to anyone (parents, teachers, policymakers) directly involved with the charter school movement.
Key features of this timely new book include the following:
* A Historical Perspective--The early chapters look at American educational reform over the past fifty years and analyze why these efforts have fallen short of their goals.
* Student Achievement--Chapter 3 provides an insightful assessment of American students' school achievement from 1970 to the present and, in the process, counters the widely held myth that, overall, student achievement has deteriorated.
* Voucher Plans and Charter Schools--Chapter 4 looks specifically at choice and vouchers in American education while chapters 5-7 provide a comprehensive and balanced examination of the charter school movement.
* Policy Recommendations--The book concludes with explicit policy suggestions that attempt to balance the educational needs of children and youth against the rights of schools to experiment. Suggestions for developing broader coalitions to support public education, particularly in the inner cities, are also offered.
"As the level of public debate over the merits of voucher systems and charter schools increases, particularly in the forum created by national elections, there is a pressing need for The Great School Debate. This is the book for those who wonder about the future of the common public school and who seek reliable, empirical evidence for its purported strengths and weaknesses, as well as for those of its alternatives….Highly recommended for all collections."
"The book was fascinating! I just couldn't stop reading it. Its real strength is its even-handed evaluation of the evidence. Everyone else in the field writes from such a biased perspective. I am slated to teach a course on educational change next year, and I will definitely use it. Thanks for putting me into the loop on this one."
University of Utah
"At last we have authors who understand the complexity of the issues they discuss and shed light on the debate about alternatives to traditional forms of public education."
Arizona State University
"This book is a 'must read' for elected officials who are considering legislation in their state."
—Marion L. Pickens
Arizona State Legislature
Contents: Preface. American Education: How Good Is It and Who Should Control It? Crisis in Public Education: Past and Present. Student Performance in American Schools: An Empirical Report Card. The Emergence of School Vouchers and Choice in American Schools. In the 1990s, Government Created Charter Schools. Charter Schools: Effective Investment or Wasteful Experiment. Charter Schools: Some of the Best and Worst in American Education? Dealing With Complexity and Uncertainty: Moving Schooling Forward. Epilogue: Presidential Election 2000 and Beyond.