Spurred by court rulings requiring states to increase public-school funding, the United States now spends more per student on K-12 education than almost any other country. Yet American students still achieve less than their foreign counterparts, their performance has been flat for decades, millions of them are failing, and poor and minority students remain far behind their more advantaged peers. In this book, Eric Hanushek and Alfred Lindseth trace the history of reform efforts and conclude that the principal focus of both courts and legislatures on ever-increasing funding has done little to improve student achievement. Instead, Hanushek and Lindseth propose a new approach: a performance-based system that directly links funding to success in raising student achievement. This system would empower and motivate educators to make better, more cost-effective decisions about how to run their schools, ultimately leading to improved student performance. Hanushek and Lindseth have been important participants in the school funding debate for three decades. Here, they draw on their experience, as well as the best available research and data, to show why improving schools will require overhauling the way financing, incentives, and accountability work in public education.
"It is enlightening, maddening, hopeful, frustrating and amazingly informative. . . . The book provides a terrific summary of how the U.S. education system has changed since World War II. It makes a telling argument about how much our well-being depends on our schools. It eviscerates the policymaking that has ruled public education for the last half century. And it buries for all time the notion that getting the courts to fix our schools has any chance of success."--Jay Mathews, Washington Post
"Hanushek and Lindseth conclusively enlighten policy makers, professors, school administrators, legal and educational researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students of school administration by providing an exhaustive discussion of decades of school funding and the results for student achievement. . . . The authors' experience and expertise in school funding, research, and data analysis and their ideas for the future of funding and accountability make this an absolute must read."--Choice
"This important new book by economist Eric Hanushek and attorney Alfred Lindseth is the most cogent and comprehensive analysis of America's school-finance challenges that I have ever seen."--Chester Finn, Jr., Education Gadfly
"Massive 'reforms' have poured billions of dollars into our schools, but we have yet to see results in terms of student achievement. It is time that we step back from the current bureaucratic policies that emphasize central control and regulation. We need to reward success not failure. This is exactly the message of this thoughtful book by Hanushek and Lindseth. It is a message that should be shouted from the rooftops of Washington and every state capital."--William J. Bennett, Claremont Institute, former U.S. Secretary of Education
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