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6 De Facto New Federalism and Urban Education Robert Andunga THE CONTEXT Imagine, if you will, the situation faced by John Smith, principal of a large urban high school, as school begins in the fall of 1984. He is sitting in his office looking glumly at a stack of reports and background pa- pers issued by a host of district, state, and national task forces and commissions over the last year and a half. All of them begin with urgent warnings about America's future, move on to detail the failings of American students and schools, and conclude with broad recommendations for reforming education and thus revi- talizing a stumbling economy. At a very general level, the recommendations make sense: We should modernize the curriculum, improve the lot of teachers, make teaching a more attractive profes- sion, streamline school organization, make the principal an instructional leader, and use technology more widely and efficiently to take advantage of the current inter- est in education expressed by business and industry. The reports have generated great community interest and have influenced Smith's state legislature to mandate tougher graduation requirements, propose a merit pay plan for teachers, and readjust the state's school fi- nance formula. Dr. Smith is an optimistic sort of man and is grate- ful that so many people have become interested in educa- tion. He can remember when he wondered if anyone cared at all about what he was doing. For years he wrestled with low pupil achievement, low motivation, high absen- teeism and pupil turnover, violence in the halls and classrooms, a rising tide of students speaking obscure languages, teacher strikes, and weak community support 163 .
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164 And all he got was mounting criticism about declining test scores. In the past 20 years he has had to blend into his usual core program numerous pullout programs for disadvantaged students, handicapped students, and bilingual students; he has had to set up remedial courses for teenagers who could not read, make special arrangements for pregnant teens, establish parallel athletic programs for women, and comply with the court's desegregation mandates. Nevertheless, Smith has managed to begin a modest school improvement program over the past few years. He has persuaded many teachers that their students are cap- able of learning; he has raised their expectations and tried to give them more control over their professional lives; he has told them he is supportive of change and wants to involve them in more in-service training. He has read the Effective schools research and even vis- ited some urban schools that have developed effective new programs. If he can persuade the community that he is already making progress toward revitalizing his school, if he can get out from under his paperwork, and if he can prevent the superintendent from forcing him to start all over again in order to comply with all these new recommendations, he thinks he may have a pretty good year. FEDERAL I SM AND TH E SCOWLS This paper began with the imaginary principal in order to place this discussion of federalism in the con- crete context of school renewal and reform. Experience over the past 20 years has shown that some arrangements of local, state, and federal responsibilities can help schools improve, while other arrangements can impede school reform and impair the educational process. The challenge for every urban community engaged in school renewal is to find a mix of responsibilities that places the greatest power to effect change in the hands of the most appropriate people and provides the strongest in- centives for them to act both in their own interest and in the interest of renewal. This discussion of federalism includes not only the formal system of federal, state, and local relationships in education but also the informal relationships among different levels of the elementary-secondary education system--i.e., individual schools, districts, intermedi-
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165 ate units, state education departments, state boards, state agencies, and federal agencies and programs, in- cluding, of course, the courts. Only elementary and secondary education issues are discussed; changes in urban policy for postsecondary education are equally interesting but would require a much longer paper. Finally, the focus is on urban school districts, because they have been the proving grounds where numer- ous federalist strategies have been tested and refined over the years. Consider the following facts about urban schools: · Although urban schools serve only 11 percent of all public school students in the country, they enroll al- most a third of all minority children (Casserly, 1983). The schools in 23 of the 25 largest cities enroll pre- dominantly minority students--on average, about 70 per- cent (Bencivenga, 1983). · The Hispanic share of urban school enrollment has doubled in the past 12 years. Hispanic young people now constitute one-fifth of all students in urban schools. Asian enrollment has tripled in the past decade. One- third of all limited English-speaking students are en- rolled in urban schools (Casserly, 1983:5,7). · Largely for the above reasons, urban schools re- ceive a disproportionate share of federal education revenues. In 1972, they received 21 percent of all fed- eral education revenues; in 1982-1983, the proportion was 15 percent--more than double the average share nationally. Currently, they receive about 21 percent of all Title I-Chapter 1 appropriations (Casserly, 1983:42) ~ Two-thirds of the cities included in the Council of Great City Schools underwent litigation or court-ordered desegregation in the past 15 years. Many are still under court orders involving such things as quotas, bus- ing, human relations training, bilingual education, mag- net schools, curricular changes, testing, compliance monitoring, career counseling, school pairing, and staff changes or reorganizations (Casserly, 1983:47-51). Urban schools have clearly received larger-than- average proportions of federal and state money and, some would say, larger-than-average proportions of headaches related to that money. More important, it is in urban districts that one can see most dramatically the stages through which federal, state, and local relations have moved over the past two decades and the positive and
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166 negative impacts of each stage on administrators, teach- ers, and students. Formal Elements of Federalism The formal elements of educational federalism are well known. There has always been a national interest in education and a consequent federal role, from the land grant ordinances of 1785 and 1787, through the Morrill Act of 1862, the Smith Hughes Act of 1917, and on into the past 20 years of very visible federal in- volvement, which are of particular interest here. It has been both inevitable and appropriate that over the past 200 years the federal government has directly and indirectly influenced where schools should be, what they should teach, and whom they should serve. It has also been both inevitable and appropriate that federal in- volvement in education has sparked controversy and in- tergovernmental conflict. As Richard Elmore (1982) and others have pointed out, that is precisely what our fed- eralist system was designed to do. Our constitutional overlap of federal, state, and local responsibilities guarantees both jurisdictional disputes and a balance of powers enabling citizens to use one level of government to redress the perceived wrongs of another. With its overlaps and vagueness, the system also forces a certain amount of collaboration in the common interest, though this may take years of nego- tiation and dispute before it materializes effectively. Virtually all federal education initiatives have been framed with an understanding that other levels of gov- ernment would have to be involved in carrying out the initiatives in some collaborative arrangement. In the early sixties, for instance, the federal gov- ernment took major steps to improve access to education for unserved and underserved population groups. Federal policymakers believed that states and communities were not doing an adequate job, particularly with regard to enforcement of civil rights. They believed that federal legislation could both stimulate the necessary reforms and at the same time eventually improve the capacities of states and communities to deal with their own prob- lems. The paramount example of federal Inducement leg- islation~ was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The ESEA provided three programs designed to
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167 strengthen state and local education agencies' capac- ities by providing money for library resources, text- books, supplementary educational centers, research, training, and leadership resources. The intent was specifically to grant state and local agencies the autonomy and flexibility they would need in order to improve themselves in their own ways (Elmore and McLaughlin, 1982). Thus, the framers of ESEA viewed it as an intrusive or coercive federal move in the short term, but as an intergovernmentally collaborative proj- ect that would strengthen the lower levels of government closest to the schools while it promoted national educa- tion goals in the long term. However, for a variety of reasons (see E1more and McLaughlin, 1982; and Murphy, 1981), the original coop- erat~ve spirit of ESEA changed gradually to a more coer- cive, regulatory, and compliance-oriented approach to states and locals. Whereas the act initially featured a mix of assistance, incentive, and regulatory mechanisms for promoting national policy, it became increasingly regulatory as policymakers attempted to deal with imple- mentation problems, interest-group pressures, f~scal- accountability demands, and unresponsiveness or waste at some of the local sites. Over the years, various amendments expanded the scope of ESEA and the government published numerous regula- tions with respect to it. During the 1970s, further regulations emerged, prohibiting discrimination based on sex (Title IX of the 1972 Education amendments3 and dis- crimination against the handicapped (section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142), passed in 1975, was a highly structured, very detailed act. Controver- sial recommendations with respect to the education of children with limited English emerged, the Vocational Education Act was amended, the Emergency School Aid Act was revised and expanded, and Titles I, IV, and VII of ESEA were updated several times. Each new act or amend- ment narrowed the focus of the legislation to improve its effectiveness, but increased regulations and compli ance demands at the same time. Effects of Federalism Many of these federal programs did eventually strengthen state agencies, as intended. But uninten-
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168 tionally, they fostered state models that were also com- pliance-oriented and used regulation as a vehicle of reform (Murphy, 1981). This did not happen everywhere, and where it did happen, it did not happen to the same degree or with the same consequences. But in the early stages of these federal and state programs, the net ef- fect of so many laws, grant requirements, conditions and regulations was to impose on some school systems several more layers of bureaucracy, the cumulative weight of which fell on the individual schools charged with carry- ing out all the mandates. And although it may have been possible to keep the various programs and regulations apart at higher levels of the bureaucracy, it became increasingly difficult to do so at the bottom of the pyramid. Since urban schools were often the targets of much of this activity, they had to struggle most strenu- ously with the aggregate effects of it all. Early research into the aggregate effects of those programs on already overburdened schools established that they did not make the job of education any easier. A Rand Corporation study (Kimbrough and Hill, 1981) found that the programs competed for scarce local funds, imposed administrative burdens, and caused difficult scheduling problems. At their worst, they interfered with education and innovation by: · interrupting core classroom instruction because they pulled students out of classes, often for most of the day; · replacing the core program with a new program, usually because scheduling problems made it impossible for affected students to stay in the core program for sufficiently long periods of time; · presenting students with materials and teaching methods radically different from those found in the core program; e causing staff conflicts, usually because of differ- ences in teaching approach and the autonomy of the spe- cial program teachers; · imposing heavy recordkeeping burdens upon teachers and administrators--especially in response to P.L. 94-142 and bilingual programs; and · segregating affected students for large blocks of time. The Rand study also found that money and staff from funded programs, such as Title I, were often diverted
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169 into unfunded programs in order to help defray costs. More recently, a congressionally mandated study of the cumulative effects of federal education policies on schools and districts, conducted by SRI International (Knapp et al., 1983), revealed more positive develop- ments. The researchers found that the problems docu- mented by the Rand study were being addressed success- fully in many schools. Over the years, strong admin- istrators have found ways to minimize interruptions of core instruction that have tended to fragment the educa- tional experience of the affected children. Turf jeal- ousies have been worked out and many administrators have learned how to deal with the paperwork efficiently. The instances of serious burden seem restricted,. they write, To particular roles and situations: locally paid counselors who take on special education management unwillingly; schools in which the principal has no extra pal r of hands to help with the administrative detail; hard-pressed districts facing major, nonroutine chal- lenges attributable to federal policies (e.g., desegre- gation). (Knapp et al., 1983:7). The SRI researchers (Knapp et al., 1983:12) concluded that federal and state policies for special populations shave substantially improved and expanded the array of educational services for the intended target students.. In doing so, they have increased the structural complex- ity of schools and districts and caused problems ini- tially, but over time, people have adjusted to the prob- lems and found ways to make them more manageable. The process has involved trade-offs: Schools are offering more services and receiving more money to do so than they would otherwise, but this has come at the expense of some other programs and introduced an element of inefficiency into the system that may not have been Phere before Most of the educators interviewed by the worth- SRI researchers believed the trade-offs were while. However, despite their generally positive find- ings, the researchers (Knapp et al., 1983:12) did sound a warning note: Tin the sites where strong service man- dates are combined with strained resources, the percep- tion of the burdensome aspects of federal policy seems to be growing. Dwindling funds at the local, state and federal levels create problems that are extremely hard to solve.. Given the Rand and SRI research, it would appear that the impacts of federal education mandates have changed considerably over time and have been different for dif-
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170 ferent kinds of schools. The original intent behind ESEA was both to induce change and to assist state and local education agencies so that in the long run they could generate and manage their own change. But in the early stages that intent was not realized very often in actually carrying out the program. Moreover, the sheer logistics of establishing, administering, and monitoring programs tended to bring technical and administrative concerns to the fore: Where was the money going? Bow was it being spent? Were target groups actually receiv- ing new services? These kinds of considerations called for compliance incentives and paperwork having to do with the process itself more than the intended product, higher quality education for disadvantaged youngsters. So, in the early years of these programs, schools were hit with the problems documented by the Rand study-- largely process problems--and many people in the schools responded in dismay. Many principals found their au- thority and scope of action narrowed beyond reason as the school environment grew more complex. The conserva- tive stereotype of an overly intrusive and mindless fed- eral presence did, for a time' have a basis in fact; so did the liberal stereotype of local recalcitrance. But tile beauty of the federalist system is that the federal government cannot implement national education policies by itself. Regardless of federal policymakers' suspi- cions that state and local people will not carry out their mandates, regardless of their efforts to institu- tionalize that mistrust--they must nevertheless, in the long run, adapt to state and local realities if they want to see the policy implemented successfully. Coer- cion must eventually give way to collaboration. AS Elmore and McLaughlin (1982:192) put it: The chief problem with compliance-dominant strat- egi es in vast and variegated systems like the United States is that, while they prescribe uni- formity of behavior, they generate enormous vari- ab~lity of response. . . . Because of its ten- dency to treat all variability as suspect, the compliance-dominant view draws federal policy- makers into a steadily deepening quagmire of increasingly detailed rules, exceptions, and dis- cretionary judgments that deal with matters bet- ter dealt with at lower levels of the system. Coercive diplomacy breeds its own collapse. *
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171 Through the late seventies and into the eighties, a number of factors coalesced to bring about that collapse and mitigate the aggregate impacts of mandates on indi- vidual schools. Some obvious ones are these. First, as the SRI researchers discovered, people found ways to simplify, combine, and manage the programs more effi- ciently each year. Second, evaluations of the programs identified problems and persuaded policymakers them- selves to allow for more diversity and more local auton- omy in dealing with implementation. Third, because the system forces collaboration and negotiation across dif- ferent levels' even institutionalized mistrust began to yield to a certain amount of necessary trust. And fourth, the major long-term intent of the sixties legis- lation--to strengthen state and local capacity--actually began to find realization in more powerful, dynamic and creative state and district agencies capable of dealing with their own problems without federal inducements to do so. THE GROWING STATE ROLE IN EDUCATION The discussion so far has dealt only with federal mandates and their effects on districts and schools. Many of these programs have operated through state agencies created and sustained with a portion of the federal grant money, and all have depended in some way on other state agencies, entities, and networks. But the states have not simply been vessels through which other programs pass; they have programs of their own. Moreover, the state role in education has changed con- siderably over the past two decades. Partly as a result of federal pressures and programs, but also as a conse- quence of a host of social and economic factors, states have exerted increasing control over schools. In many states, authority has been centralized with respect to such things as textbook adoption, competency testing, and school finance equalization. Almost all states have assumed a greater and greater share of the education budget. In 1963, for instance, the average state share of education expenditures was 39 percent (National Education Association, 1964); in 1983 it was 48 percent (National Education Association, 1984). This nine-point average rise marks far more dramatic changes in a number of states. California, for in-
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172 stance, was providing 38 percent of its school funding in 1972; today, it is providing more than 90 percent. Over the past decade, Idaho's state share has gone from about half to two-thirds; Massachusetts' share has al- most doubled; Washington State's share has gone from half to four-fifths. Federal funding remained about the same, as a percentage of all funding, but real expendi- ture for education across the nation doubled from $56 billion in 1972 to $116 billion in 1982 (Doyle, 1984). With this increasing state contribution has come an in- creasingly active and sometimes intrusive scrutiny of local schools and their programs. By and large, the increasing state role in education has paralleled improvements in state government and a steady upgrading of states' capacities to deal with matters they once ignored or left to the federal or local governments. Legislators are now better paid, spend more days in session, and are better staffed. State education agencies have been strengthened. For instance, in 1972, state education agencies employed an average of 191 full-time professional staff; in 1982, the average was 273 professionals (U.S. Department of Education, 1983). Governors' terms have been lengthened and their powers broadened. Consequently, states have played much stronger roles in activities once dominated by federal policy. We know a good deal about the im- pacts of federal programs on the schools; the question now is what will be the impacts of state legislation and regulation on schools during this period of renewed in- terest in education reform? States have certainly been active in education over the past few years. ~ · . · . . Thirty-seven have developed school or abstract planning or program review requirements; 47 have initiated new curricular development or technical assistance initiatives; 15 have created state-level Effective schools. projects 38 have mandated statewide student testing; 20 have required competency testing for teacher certification; 16 have raised grade-point re- quirements for teacher certification; 10 have begun requiring supervised internships for beginning teachers; 7 require new kinds of field experience for teacher candidates; 44 now have state staff development programs for teachers and 31 have them for administrators; 29 have developed new incentive programs for teachers; and more than half of them have raised graduation require- ments in the past three years alone (Education Commis- sion of the States, 1983, 1984).
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173 All of the above measures reflect increased state activity with regard to formal mechanisms for influenc ing education. Many require a certain amount of cen- tralization and varying amounts of recordkeeping, re- porting, monitoring, and general communication about what is going on. The 1984 legislative sessions made 1984 a banner year for state education legislation, adding even more to the already impressive list of activities. Beyond these formal initiatives, states, like the federal government, have dramatically improved their informal means of affecting what happens in schools. Virtually every governor has mentioned education promi nently in his or her state-of-the-state address the past two years; many have declared that improved education is their top priority. Some governors, such as Dick Riley of South Carolina, Bob Graham of Florida, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Bill Clinton of Arkansas, have stumped their states, speaking to hundreds of groups and thousands of people in behalf of their edu- cation proposals, bringing massive publicity to the schools and engaging enormous public attention. It is a rare principal or superintendent who can escape the pub- lic pressure such campaigns generate. By the winter of 1984, states had formed more than 240 task forces and commissions to address education reform issues and make recommendations for improvement. These task forces have brought new actors into the drama--business and labor leaders, for instance--who have changed the chemistry of policymaking. Although task forces have no legal accountability to anyone and meet for only brief periods of time, they have proven capable of generating enormous publicity of their own (witness the Texas task force headed by H. Ross Perot, which recommended abolishing football') and of generat- ing both state board action and legislation that pro- foundly affect the schools. Some of this state activity was stirred up by the release of the federal government's National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) report, A Nation at Risk. But much of the activity began long before that report was issued and at least as much was stimulated by the governors themselves, either acting independently or working together on the Education Commission of the States' Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, initiated by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. of North Carolina. These recent federal and state commissions -
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174 and task forces deserve special attention in this dis- cussion of federalism because they represent a different approach to educational reform than the approach re- flected in the federal programs of the sixties and early seventies. The most obvious difference is that Action for Excellence (Education Commission of the States, 1983), the Hunt task force report, and the other state task force reports are not pieces of legislation, they are reports. They serve largely hortatory purposes: to call widespread attention to problems, stir up discus- sion, and generate activity. They suggest what kinds of activities might be most productive, but they do not mandate anything. Most of all, they suggest that people at all levels get together, talk about their education problems, and create their own solutions. The call to action is framed in terms of a national problem, but the proposed solutions depend on state and local activity. Some will argue that this is exactly what the federal government should do: exhort. Others will argue that if there is a national education problem, there should be strong federal action in response, not simply rheto- ric. No one will argue with the proposition that this jawboning has had a profound effect on public attitudes toward education and has catalyzed the reform movement even if it did not start it. The fundamental questions raised by all this clamor are these: Will exhortation alone improve the schools? What kinds of state legisla- tion and programs will grow out of the clamor (assuming that little federal legislation will be developed under this administration)? Will the ensuing state legisla- tion and programs benefit from the lessons we have learned about federal programs and from the improved capacity of state and local agencies to implement changes? OUTLOOK FOR THE STATE ROLE: GU~DED OPTIMISM At this point the outlook is guardedly optimistic. The need for caution derives from the observation that many of the remedies suggested by high-level task forces and commissions involve traditional ~top-down. mechan- isms for inducing change. Two decades of research into the change process in schools has finally crystallized in the observation that, as John Goodlad (1983) says, Hit happens one building at a time. and involves such intangibles as leadership, a shared moral climate, a
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175 school ethos, and a host of idiosyncratic factors in each school (Murnane, 1975, Edmonds, 1979; Rutter, 1979 Cohen, 1981; Sarason, 1982; Goodlad, 1983; Sizer, 1984; to name only major works). Yet despite strong research support for a ~bottom-up. model of school reform, and despite the absence of research supporting links between improvement and such things as stiffer certification requirements, higher teacher salaries, or stricter grad- uation requirements, many states may nevertheless ap- proach reform too prescriptively, as if they were the federal government in the 1960s. If states rely solely on policy mechanisms that either do not touch the fac- tors instrumental to reform or in various ways constrain the creativity necessary for reform, the expectations of so many new converts to the education renewal cause will be disappointed. And if that happens, there will be another backlash against the schools down the road, and it will be harder than ever to muster the necessary broad support for yet another effort in the l99Os. Optimism must also be qualified by the observation that most of the problems cited in the reform reports are concentrated in urban schools, but the reports' recommendations are not directly linked with either the particulars of urban school administration or with urban policy in general. One reason for optimism derives from the observation that we have 20 years of experience with the problems of compliance-oriented reform strategies, overregulation, and forced intergovernmental collaboration; we have stronger state and district capacity; and we have usable research findings about the change process. These fac- tors have already altered approaches to school reform in many states and may carry the day. If you look back at the state activities described earlier, you will note that many of them are not top-down mechanisms likely to reinforce a compliance-oriented approach to school re- form. Rather, they are assistance-oriented, capacity- building activities, such as those envisioned in the original ESEA. Technical assistance is designed to empower people in the schools, not restrict their freedom to maneuver. Effective school projects are by definition school based, even if they are state spon- sored. Internships, field-experience requirements, staff development, and incentives programs all devolve responsibility downward and imply a good deal of trust that the people at the bottom will carry out the spirit of the mandate, if not the letter. 1 ;
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176 Another reason for optimism is that many states have now developed formal and informal mechanisms for greas- ing the wheels of intergovernmental relations. Twenty- one states now have intergovernmental advisory groups modeled after the U.S. Advisory Council on Intergovern- mental Relations; 15 more states are considering such councils; a number of states--Iowa, New York, Minnesota, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, and Connecticut--have conducted studies of the impacts of their mandates on local institutions and governments (Roberts, 1984). So the picture is mixed: Some states are indeed developing new regulations and depending on top-down leverage to change schools; some states are deeply involved in assistance and mechanisms for placing the knowledge, responsibility, and trust in the hands of the people closest to the problems; many states are involved in both kinds of strategies and others as well. Final- ly, we can be optimistic about the leaders in many urban school districts who have shed any appearance of depend- ence on federal or state initiatives to solve these unique problems and have initiated broadly conceived reform efforts on their own. EFFECTI VE SCHOOLS Through the seventies, considerable research was devoted to identifying the characteristics of effective schools, many of which were in urban environments not thought to be conducive to optimal education condi- tions. In general, the research shows that high student performance results from many different policies and activities, no one of which accounts solely for success or is necessarily transferable from building to build- ing. Student learning depends mostly on people, and people differ greatly in their approaches to education and administration. Nevertheless, effective schools share a number of general characteristics: high expectations for student performance, strong instructional leadership, an orderly school climate, an emphasis on basic skills, careful monitoring of student progress, and a greater sense of control over the learning ronment by both students and staff.
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177 Each of these suggests something about how an effec- tive school is run and what kind of people work there; and those factors--the how and the who--suggest some- thing about the administrators' and teachers' freedom to maneuver and make decisions, as well as their relation- ship to people at higher levels of the bureaucracy. Clearly, all of these factors can be heavily influenced by the quality of the leadership in the school. Strong principals are key. And it is axiomatic that a leader cannot function as a leader in an overregulated environ- ment--such environments appeal only to followers. Lead- ers need the freedom to lead, which means the freedom to be creative, to make mistakes, to follow through, to win trust, to be flexible, to control resources, and to make decisions without having to clear them with half a dozen people on up the line. There is a sense, then, in which effective schools are almost by definition those schools that have found ways to make leadership possible and ways to accommodate all that follows from the empower- ment of leaders in each building at the bottom of the bureaucracy. Many urban school districts have made great strides in this direction over the last decade. Outstanding ones that come to mind are Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston, Milwaukee, New Haven, and Houston, but there are many more. Each has found ways to draw in community leaders and parents, to energize administrators, teachers, and students, to apply re- search on effective schools to its own particular situ- ation, and to use its resources in creative and effec- tive ways. But urban schools still face formidable difficul- ties. Achievement in many urban schools is far below national averages. Disproportionately high numbers of urban students are dropping out of school, and the achievement gap between majority and minority young people remains a deplorable educational and social prob- lem. The burdens of poverty, violence, drugs, and de- spair still fall more heavily on urban schools than on any others. In the years ahead, the federal government will be wrestling with its staggering deficit and is unlikely to be in any position to offer more assistance than it is already giving. Federal, state, and local government will, nevertheless, have to find ways of eas- ing the burdens on urban schools, for urban problems have national, not just local, implications. As they do so, they must find mechanisms, strategies, and relation-
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178 ships that do not stifle the very process of reform they aim to promote. The key concepts in new intergovernmen- tal strategies must be assistance, incentives, empower- ment, trust, and devolution of responsibility to the people in the best positions to make a difference. Denis Doyle (1984:8) frames the issue nicely when he writes: Policymakers should be concerned with the finan- cial inputs that make good schooling possible and the outputs that good schooling is meant to pro- duce. How the school transforms those inputs into measurable outputs should be the business of the school, its teachers, and its community. That is the real meaning of professionalism. That is the nature of the practice of law and medicine. It defines and describes higher educa- tion. It should define and describe elementary and secondary education. SOME MODEST PROPOSALS The following suggestions to urban policy planners in state, county, and city agencies are meant to encourage strategies that combine traditional policy levers with grassroots initiatives: · Clarify and dramatize those aspects of federal, state, county, city, and district relations that inhibit or frustrate school reform. Examine the unintended con- sequences of program proliferation and accreted regula- tions. It may be that a nonprogrammatic agency would be useful as an overseer against the Babel effect. across an urban district. · Reshape policymakers' attitudes in the direction of technical assistance, advice, empowerment of local lead- ers, devolution of responsibility, and away from cen- tralized control and overly constraining regulation. That is easy to say, of course, but hard to do. The best ways are still the old ways: building bridges, developing trust, communicating, forcing people in different spheres to collaborate on a common problem, and so on. · Create an informal Youth Forum in the larger cities that meets monthly and that includes a lead person from public and private education, law enforcement, welfare,
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179 youth service, the mayor's office, United Way, church youth workers, and the like. Such a group would have no bylaws, formal membership, or dues, but could perhaps have a three-person program committee, including a chairman, to plan the monthly dialogue. The purpose of the group would be to build trust relationships, look at life in the city from the perspective of youth, share information, brainstorm ideas, and encourage collabora- tive activities that could be developed outside of forum meetings. · Create incentives--financial or otherwise--for intergovernmental or interagency collaboration. · Develop contractual intergovernmental arrangements to replace particularly intrusive regulatory arrange- ments. · Work for federal matching grants to city schools for education-improvement programs. A city match could come from any source outside the school budget or state funds, and the federal government would match at more than one-for-one. The point is that city revenue poll cies, businesses, and foundations all need to generate more money for city schools, and they should all have a role in defining how funds could be used. The federal role would be to provide the incentives without having to invest huge sums that lead to many compliance regula- tions. o Accept Multiple sloppy measures. of progress and accountability instead of looking for precise, quantita tive standardized measures. Much that is important in schools (or in life, for that matter) simply cannot be measured exactly or quantitatively; attempts to do so either drive people crazy or force them to ignore criti Cal factors, or both. · Develop ways of describing and analyzing the dif- ferences between schools and communities as well as the commonalities. There are many roads to school renewal; insistence on only one is neither efficient nor produc- tive. Beyond the steps people in the formal bureaucracy might take to improve interlevel coordination, much might be done between the schools and other groups or agencies in the community. For many urban young people, school is only one of many ~agencies. that affect their lives or offer opportunities for education and tra~n- ing. And there are many nonschool things young people can do for which they could receive school credit. -
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180 Ernest Boyer's (1983) High School is only one of many recent books to suggest that community service be a part of the high school curriculum. Others have suggested that entrepreneurs could help urban education by setting up ~storefront. learning centers in cooperation with the schools as a way of helping dropouts work their way back in. As the economics of computer ir,struction become increasingly competitive with the economics of school- ing, we can expect more private sector initiatives in education. Each such initiative will at the same time broaden the educational opportunities of urban youth and challenge the traditional structures by which federal, state, and city governments have controlled education in the past. As a consequence, federalist, interagency, and interlevel relationships are likely to be changing for some time to come. The federal government still has a critical role to play. It must, of course, provide strong leadership by setting the agenda, gaining media attention, and conven- ing leaders from many sectors. It must continue to help states deal with special populations; it must vigorously uphold and enforce basic civil rights protections; it must continue to provide financial assistance to low- income students desiring postsecondary education; and it must continue to provide financial support for graduate and professional programs aimed at meeting national work-force needs. It should greatly strengthen its educational research, demonstration and dissemination efforts, and its capacity to provide useful information about school improvement to states and localities. And it must help states learn what federal policymakers have learned about appropriate mixes of incentives, assis- tance, and regulatory mechanisms. Any current description of federal, state, and local roles in education must be only a snapshot, and a blurred one at that. The federal government is taking a strong rhetorical approach to school improvement, while simplifying its regulations and passing more responsi- bility for the implementation of its programs to the states. The states are extremely active in school improvement initiatives and are clearly at a transi- tional point in the ways they approach education problems: Some are moving more toward centralized solu- tions, some are moving more toward decentralized ap- proaches, and many are centralizing with respect to some solutions while decentralizing with respect to others. There is a danger that what we have learned from the
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181 1960s and 1970s has not been learned well or broadly enough to prevent some people from repeating past mis- takes with overly rigid, abstract, standardized, and constraining regulation or legislation. But there are also signs that some people have learned from history and are taking steps to see that it is not repeated. Moreover, this most recent surge of school improvement efforts was a grassroots movement to begin with; the federal and state hue and cry about education came only after many districts and schools had already built momentum toward positive change. That momentum is the final guarantee that traditional federalist arrangements and interlevel relationships are going to change. They are going to change formally because they have already begun changing informally. In the last analysis, the keys to improved education lie in leadership, creativity, and having the opportu- nity to explore alternative solutions to problems. The best solutions are the ones people at the local level have worked out for themselves, not the ones imposed on them by outsiders. This is what research and observa- tion tell us about how children learn. It is what ex- perience has taught us about how schools improve. And it is what we must keep foremost in mind as we struggle to make multilevel systems responsive to the tides of change. REFERENCES Bencivenga, James 1983 Huge minority enrollment challenges public education. Pp. 5-6 in Susan Parkas, ea., Changes and Challenges: City Schools in America. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Educational Leadership. Boyer, E. 1983 High School: A Report of the Carnegie Founda- tion for the Advancement of Teaching. New York: Harper and Row. Casserly, Michael 1983 Statistical Profiles of the Great City Schools. Washington, D.C.: Council of Great City Schools. Cohen, Michael 1981 Effective schools: what the research says. Today's Education 70:46-49.
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182 Doyle, Denis 1984 De Facto New Federalism. Speech delivered at the annual meeting of the Council on Founda- tions, Denver, Cola. Edmonds, Ronald 1979 Effective schools for the urban poor. Educa- tional Leadership 37:15-24. Education Commission of the States 1983a Action for Excellence. Report of the Task l Force on Education for Economic Growth. Denver, Cola.: Education Commission of the States. 1983b Three ECS surveys: an overview. State Educa- tion Leader 2(Fall):4. 1984 High school graduation course requirements in the 50 states. State Education Leader 3(Winter):1. Elmore, Richard 1982 Education and Federalism: Doctrinal, Func- tional and Strategic Views. Paper prepared for Seminar on Law and Education, Institute for Educational Finance and Governance, Stanford University, Calif. Elmore, Richard, and McLaughlin, Milbrey 1982 Strategic choice in federal education policy: the compliance-assistance trade-off. Pp. 159-194 in Policymaking in Education. ~ighty- first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Goodlad, John 1983 A Place Called School. New York. Kimbrough, Jackie, and Hill, Paul 1981 The Aggregate Effects of Federal Education Programs. Santa Monica, Calif.: The Rand Corporation. Knapp, Michael, Stearns, Marion, Turnbull, Brenda, David, Jane, and Peterson, Susan 1983 Cumulative Effects of Federal Education Policies on Schools and Districts, Summary Doctr inal . Func- New York. McGraw-Hill. Report. Menlo Park, Calif.: SRI International. Murnane, Richard 1975 The Impact of School Resources on the Learning of Inner City Children. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger. Murphy, Jerome 1981 The paradox of state government reform. The Public Interest 64:124-139.
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183 National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983 A Nation at Risk. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. National Education Association 1964 Estimates of School Statistics 1962-63. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association. 1984 Estimates of School Statistics 1983-84. wash- .. ington, D.C.: National Education Association. Roberts, Jane 1984 States and localities in 1983: recession, reform, renewal. tive:1010-1023. Rutter, Michael 1979 Fifteen Thousand Hours: - Their Effects on Children. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Sarason, Seymour 1982 The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change. Second Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Sizer, Theodore 1984 Horace's Compromise. Mifflin. Intergovernmental Perspec- Secondary Schools and New York: Houghton U.S. Department of Education 1983 Educational Governance in the States. Washing- ton, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.
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