Politics, Markets, and America's Schools

Brookings Institution Press

During the 1980s, widespread dissatisfaction with America's schools gave rise to a powerful movement for educational change, and the nation's political institutions responded with aggressive reforms. Chubb and Moe argue that these reforms are destined to fail because they do not get to the root of the problem. The fundamental causes of poor academic performance, they claim, are not to be found in the schools, but rather in the institutions of direct democratic control by which the schools have traditionally been governed. Reformers fail to solve the problem-when the institutions ARE the problem. The authors recommend a new system of public education, built around parent-student choice and school competition, that would promote school autonomy- thus providing a firm foundation for genuine school improvement and superior student achievement.
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About the author

John E. Chubb is a founding partner of Edison Schools and a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Terry M. Moe is professor of political science at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has written extensively on American education and American political institutions.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1990
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Pages
318
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ISBN
9780815714095
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Administration / General
Education / Evaluation & Assessment
Education / General
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Why are America's public schools falling so short of the mark in educating the nation's children? Why are they organized in ineffective ways that fly in the face of common sense, to the point that it is virtually impossible to get even the worst teachers out of the classroom? And why, after more than a quarter century of costly education reform, have the schools proven so resistant to change and so difficult to improve?

In this path-breaking book, Terry M. Moe demonstrates that the answers to these questions have a great deal to do with teachers unions—which are by far the most powerful forces in American education and use their power to promote their own special interests at the expense of what is best for kids.

Despite their importance, the teachers unions have barely been studied. Special Interest fills that gap with an extraordinary analysis that is at once brilliant and kaleidoscopic—shedding new light on their historical rise to power, the organizational foundations of that power, the ways it is exercised in collective bargaining and politics, and its vast consequences for American education. The bottom line is simple but devastating: as long as the teachers unions remain powerful, the nation's schools will never be organized to provide kids with the most effective education possible.

Moe sees light at the end of the tunnel, however, due to two major transformations. One is political, the other technological, and the combination is destined to weaken the unions considerably in the coming years—loosening their special-interest grip and opening up a new era in which America's schools can finally be organized in the best interests of children.

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