Book Title: Education Reform and the Limits of Policy: Lessons from Michigan
Publisher: W.E. Upjohn Institute
Author: Micheal F. Addonizio
During the last 20 years, the United States has experienced more attempts at education reform than at any other time in its history. Efforts to reform financing, the assessment of student performance, accountability and equity, and school choice have all been implemented with varying levels of success. Michael F. Addonizio and C. Philip Kearney use Michigan as a laboratory to examine a set of commonly implemented reforms in an attempt to answer three key questions: 1) What is the nature of these reforms? 2) What do they hope to accomplish? and 3) How successful have they been? The authors begin by examining one of the most contentious issues facing education money and schools. Does more money make schools better? They review existing evidence on the link between money and schools and then examine financing reforms resulting from the passage in 1994 of Michigan s Proposal A. Next, they examine accountability systems for Michigan s schools and whether they meet the federal directives of No Child Left Behind. Related to the issue of accountability are the key assessment programs i.e., the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that are used to measure academic achievement and how Michigan students performance ranks compared to students in other states. Addonizio and Kearney also address the growing trend of school choice, in terms of the options parents have to select charter schools for their children to attend or to send them out-of-district via a school of choice program. Charters are a fast-growing movement that, as the authors point out, present somewhat mixed hopes for the future. They also identify the benefits and potential pitfalls of the school of choice program. Finally, possibly no other school district in the country has suffered the decline that the Detroit Public Schools have. The authors discuss the many reasons for the district s problems, efforts including state oversight to right the ship, and where they see the district headed as it adapts to the splintering of the city s neighborhoods and the loss of population to the suburbs. The book concludes with a discussion of what has been gleaned from the successes and failures of various reform efforts and, based on the authors observations and analysis, their thoughts and ideas for the future of education reform.