Collision Course: Federal Education Policy Meets State and Local Realities
The release of this informative and lively book by William & Mary political scientist Paul Manna is exquisitely timed for what many expect to be ESEA reauthorization (finally!) by the 112th Congress, which after Tuesday’s election, may be more open to Manna's counsel than its predecessor. In its pages, he draws from eight years of study on NCLB implementation and does a first-rate job of depicting its consequences—both positive and negative—and drawing insightful conclusions for the future federal role in K-12 education. He ends with scant faith that the traditional ESEA approach—brought to what may well have been its apogee in NCLB—can yield good results. “Crafting a new role that better recognizes the constraints limiting federal power in education” might, however, “enable federal policy to make valuable contributions.” “With such an acknowledgment,” he writes, “the vast majority of influence over the nation's schools would still reside in state and local governments. No doubt, that would prove frustrating to reformers who wish to see Washington play a more aggressive role....Still, if educational results...are most important, then it should not matter if federal leaders or their colleagues at other levels of government wield the most power. The point would be to engineer federal advocacy, funding, incentives, and information to help state and local governments improve opportunities and results for the nation's students.” Sage advice, that.
Paul Manna, “Collision Course: Federal Education Policy Meets State and Local Realities,” (Washington, D.C.: SAGE, 2011).
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