The next section of the book presents shorter position statements that relate specific research or policymaking experiences and reflect on the ways that ethnography can be involved in a project of formulating or revising policy. In this section, edited transcriptions of workshop discussions give the reader a vibrant sense of the challenging issues facing educational ethnographers attempting to address policy. The book closes with a commentary by a veteran educational ethnographer. Of interest to educators, researchers, and policymakers across the Americas, this volume contributes to an ongoing dialogue about how ethnographic research can intersect advantageously with the policymaking enterprise.
The author argues that urban school reform is failing becasue its basic strategy is misguided and because reform thinking has consciously ignored three essential sources of knowledge about school change. Strategically, efforts for reform have relied heavily on the widespread replication of nationally promoted exemplary programs. This approach assumes that local schools lack the knowledge and will to solve their own problems and require prescriptive intervention from national models. In fact, the exemplary programs approach has yielded very limited success. What is needed instead is the creation and long-term support of unique, local exemplary contexts that combine best-practice approaches with local knowledge, conditions, and resources.