The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools

Brookings Institution Press
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The voucher debate has been both intense and ideologically polarizing, in good part because so little is known about how voucher programs operate in practice. In The Education Gap, William Howell and Paul Peterson report new findings drawn from the most comprehensive study on vouchers conducted to date. Added to the paperback edition of this groundbreaking volume are the authors' insights into the latest school choice developments in American education, including new voucher initiatives, charter school expansion, and public-school choice under No Child Left Behind. The authors review the significance of state and federal court decisions as well as recent scholarly debates over choice impacts on student performance. In addition, the authors present new findings on which parents choose private schools and the consequences the decision has for their children's education. Updated and expanded, The Education Gap remains an indispensable source of original research on school vouchers. "This is the most important book ever written on the subject of vouchers."—John E. Brandl, dean, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota "The Education Gap will provide an important intellectual battleground for the debate over vouchers for years to come."—Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University "Must reading for anyone interested in the battle over vouchers in America."—John Witte, University of Wisconsin
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About the author

William G. Howell is an associate professor in the Government Department at Harvard University and deputy director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard. Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard, the director of PEPG, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is author or editor of numerous books, including The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools, with William G. Howell (Brookings, 2004 and 2006). He is coeditor (with Martin West) of No Child Left Behind? The Practice and Politics of School Accountability (Brookings, 2003).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Feb 14, 2006
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Pages
323
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ISBN
9780815736868
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Urban & Regional
Education / Experimental Methods
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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America's inner cities, particularly those in older industrial metropolitan areas, have declined sharply in both population and employment over the past two decades. How much of this change is due to technological advances in transportation, communication, and manufacturing? How much of it is due to the changing racial composition of the central cities? Can any set of public policies retard or reverse the decline of the industrial cities?

This book presents an interdisciplinary collection of papers addressing these questions. In the introduction, editor Paul E. Peterson discusses the ways in which adverse economic and racial changes interact and urges more realistic federal policies to counteract these changes. In Part 1, "The Processes of Urban Growth and Decline," sociologist John D. Kasarda analyzes the growing mismatch between inner-city jobs and residents, and geographer Brian J. L. Berry discusses the economics of inner-city gentrification. Racial change is the subject of Part II: sociologist Elijah Anderson depicts race relations in a gentrifying inner-city neighborhood; sociologist William J. Wilson delineates the social and economic problems of inner-city blacks; and political scientist Gary Orfield calls for bold efforts to reverse the continuing urban pattern of racial segregation. Part III looks at the way cities have responded to economic and racial change. Economist Kenneth A. Small discusses the impact of transportation policy; political scientist Herbert Jacob finds that increasing efforts to control urban crime have not been effective; and sociologist Terry Nichols Clark emphasizes the effect of political factors on the fiscal condition of cities. Economist Anthony Downs, reviewing the issues raised by the other authors, sees little hope for racial integration as the central social strategy for solving urban problems, but does see hope in the internal resources of America's minority communities.

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST

An epic, riveting history of New York City on the edge of disaster—and an anatomy of the austerity politics that continue to shape the world today

When the news broke in 1975 that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country’s largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue.

In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. With unions and ordinary citizens refusing to accept retrenchment, the budget crunch became a struggle over the soul of New York, pitting fundamentally opposing visions of the city against each other. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources and interviews with key players in the crisis, Fear City shows how the brush with bankruptcy permanently transformed New York—and reshaped ideas about government across America.

At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in New York's past, a gripping narrative of last-minute machinations and backroom deals, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today.

What is the price of federalism? Does it result in governmental interconnections that are too complex? Does it create overlapping responsibilities? Does it perpetuate social inequalities? Does it stifle economic growth?

To answer these questions, Paul Peterson sets forth two theories of federalism: functional and legislative. Functional theory is optimistic. It says that each level of the federal system is well designed to carry out the tasks for which it is mainly responsible. State and local governments assume responsibility for their area's physical and social development; the national government cares for the needy and reduces economic inequities. Legislative theory, in contrast, is pessimistic: it says that national political leaders, responding to electoral pressures, misuse their power. They shift unpopular burdens to lower levels of government while spending national dollars on popular government programs for which they can claim credit.

Both theories are used to explain different aspects of American federalism. Legislative theory explains why federal grants have never been used to equalize public services. Elected officials cannot easily justify to their constituents a vote to shift funds away from the geographic area they represent. The overall direction that American federalism has taken in recent years is better explained by functional theory. As the costs of transportation and communication have declined, labor and capital have become increasingly mobile, placing states and localities in greater competition with one another. State and local governments are responding to these changes by overlooking the needs of the poor, focusing instead on economic development. As a further consequence, older, big cities of the Rust Belt, inefficient in their operations and burdened by social responsibilities, are losing jobs and population to the suburban communities that surround them.

Peterson recommends that the national government adopt policies that take into account the economic realities identified by functional theory. The national government should give states and localities responsibility for most transportation, education, crime control, and other basic governmental programs. Welfare, food stamps, the delivery of medical services, and other social policies should become the primary responsibility of the national government.

What really happened when citizens were asked to participate in their community’s poverty programs? In this revealing new book, the authors provide an answer to this question through a systematic empirical analysis of a single public policy issue—citizen participation in the Community Action Program of the Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty.” Beginning with a brief case study description and analysis of the politics of community action in each of America’s five largest cities—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Philadelphia—the authors move on to a fascinating examination of race and authority structures in our urban life.

In a series of lively chapters, Professors Greenstone and Peterson show how the coalitions that formed around the community action question developed not out of electoral or organizational interests alone, but were strongly influenced by our conceptions of the nature of authority in America. They discuss the factors that affected the development of the action program and they note that democratic elections of low-income representatives, however much preferred by democratic reformers, were an ineffective way of representing the interests of the poor.

The book stresses the way in which both machine and reform structures affected the ability of minority groups to organize effectively and to form alliances in urban politics. It considers the wide-ranging critiques made of the Community Action Program by conservative, liberal, and radical analysts and finds that all of them fail to appreciate the significance and intensity of the racial cleavage in American politics.

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