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.
Eric A. Hanushek is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a leading figure in the study of the economics of education. Alfred A. Lindseth is a senior partner with the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, and is a nationally recognized expert in school finance law.
List of Illustrations ix List of Tables xiii Preface xv Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Just How Important Is Education? 10 Education and Financial Achievement 11 Education and Poverty 15 Education and the Nation's Economic Well-Being 16 Testing Student Skills 20 Quality of U.S. Colleges 21 Chapter 2: U.S. Education at a Crossroads 23 Years of School Completed 23 Achievement Levels (or the Mastery of Cognitive Skills) 29 International Comparisons 36 Achievement Gaps 38 Chapter 3: The Political Responses 44 Increased Spending and Resources for K-12 Education 45 Increased Equity in Funding for K-12 Education 57 The Standards and Accountability Movement 71 Increased School Choice Options 76 Teacher Certification 80 Conclusions 82 Chapter 4: Court Interventions in School Finance 83 Federal Desegregation Litigation and Milliken II Remedies 84 "Equity" Cases 88 "Adequacy" Cases 95 Chapter 5: Practical Issues with Educational Adequacy 118 Defining an "Adequate" Education 118 The Element of Causation 129 Problems Relating to Remedy 136 Problems Inherent in the Makeup and Processes of the Courts 139 Chapter 6: The Effectiveness of Judicial Remedies 145 Kentucky 147 Wyoming 151 New Jersey 157 Massachusetts 166 Chapter 7: Science and School Finance Decision Making 171 A Simple Decision Model 172 How Much Is Enough? 173 How Should the Money Be Spent? 200 Using Science More Effectively 211 Chapter 8: A Performance-Based Funding System 217 Guiding Principles: Back to Basics 218 A Performance-Based Funding System 219 Big City Schools 258 Conclusions 260 Chapter 9: Making Performance-Based Funding a Reality 263 The Persistence of Illusory Spending Solutions 263 Support for the Status Quo and Resistance to Change 268 Some Current Countervailing Forces 275 Encouraging True Reform: Mutually Agreed Bargains 279 Changing the Focus of the Courts 281 Mobilizing for the Future 287 Notes 291 Legal Citations 353 Federal Court Cases (arranged in alphabetical order) 353 State Court Cases (arranged by state and, within states, chronologically) 354 Sources for Figures and Tables 361 References 363 Index 395