Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
According to proverbial wisdom, necessity is the mother of invention. Proverbial wisdom is certainly correct in the case of Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction. The idea for this book was born in the summer of 1990 when, new Ph.D. in hand, I was invited to teach a graduate course in education policy at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. After discovering no suitable textbooks, I ordered a few paperbacks on current issues and put together a course packet consisting of articles on various aspects of education policy. Although my students were bright and motivated, I often felt frustrated; none had taken a college course in political science and few had been involved in the policy process at any level. I found, therefore, that I had to devote much class time to filling in the gaps in their knowledge. Often I longed for a good textbook that would provide basic information, freeing up precious class time for substantive discussions of policy issues.
That fall I began a new position at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where one of my responsibilities was a graduate course in education policy. As I worked with my students over the next few years, my earlier feelings were reinforced. The lack of a good, basic text hampered my teaching in various ways. Thus, the idea for this book was born. As I revised and restructured the course during those years, I also gathered materials for a future textbook, developing an organizational structure and a series of learning materials for students.
TEXT PHILOSOPHY AND FOCUS
Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction is based on the following set of beliefs:
- Educational leaders need to be literate about policy and the policy process. The time is long past (if indeed there ever was a time) when education administrators could tell themselves that "Politics and education don't mix" and sit complacently on the sidelines while others make important policy decisions for the schools. In today's rapidly changing policy environment, those who lead our schools must have a basic understanding of education policy and how it is made. Otherwise, they will be reactive rather than proactive; and, when they move into action, they are likely to make serious blunders.
- Educational leaders need both theories and practical information about education policy and policy making. Unfortunately, many people in education believe that theory and practice are unrelated and; indeed, opposites. I reject this view. If school administrators are truly to be reflective leaders, they need tools for thinking, deeply and critically, about education policy. Among these necessary tools are knowledge about major research findings, analytical frameworks, and important political theories. However, people who are politically inexperienced also need practical advice about how to apply this abstract information. Therefore, this book presents both the underlying theories and specific recommendations for practice.
- Educational leaders need to understand power and how to use it responsibly. The underlying theory behind this book is conflict theory—the belief that policy grows out of conflict between different individuals, groups, and institutions. Since the outcome of these struggles is shaped by the balance of power among the participants, students must understand power. Conflict theory is a large theoretical house, ranging from the pluralists who focus on the dynamics of practical politics to scholars whose thinking has been influenced by Marx and Gramsci, with many stops in between. Unfortunately, education scholars in the United States tend to set up a binary opposition between the pluralists and more "critical" thinkers, focusing on either practical politics or cultural politics to the exclusion of the other. In my opinion, these approaches are neither theoretically adequate nor pedagogically sound, leading either to'students who understand day-to-day politics (but ignore the more subtle play of power that shapes most social injustice) or to students who have a good grasp of how powerful cultural institutions shape consciousness (but do not know what happens in a legislature or court). My book transcends this unfortunate dichotomy by using Oxford University professor Steven Lukes' (1974) integration of pluralist and "critical" perspectives with studies of the mobilization of bias to yield a holistic theory which encompasses the many faces of power. Thus, instructors can teach their students about both the dynamics of everyday American power politics and how powerful interests use institutions and culture to perpetuate injustices based on race, gender, and class.
- All public policy, but especially education policy, is value laden. In political science, one school of policy analysis seeks to conduct "value-free" analysis. In my opinion, their work is misleading because it is based on a fundamental misconception about social reality. I agree, therefore, with those political scientists who consider policy making to be inherently intertwined with values. This book reflects that belief. Not only is an entire chapter devoted to policy values and ideology, but throughout the book I raise issues of values. Because many of the conflicts in which school leaders become embroiled turn on questions of deeply held values, this emphasis lays the foundation for a good understanding of where and when struggles over values are most likely to arise.
- State government has become increasingly important in the last 25 years and will probably continue to be so. In the United States, education policy is developed at four levels: federal, state, district, and school. Although this book touches on all four levels, it emphasizes the state level. Not only is this level growing in importance, but it is the least understood for several reasons: the federal focus of most civics and government courses, the split national-local focus of the media, and the patterns of practical experience that most educators develop during their careers. Therefore, filling this gap seemed essential.
This book is divided into twelve chapters, which can be grouped in the following four categories:
- Introductory chapters (Chapters 1 and 2). The first two chapters lay a general foundation for students, most of whom have never taken a basic political science course. Chapter 1 presents an overview of education policy and the policy process. Chapter 2 deals with power, presenting Lukes' theory in detail, and applying it both to day-to-day politics and the more subtle power mechanisms, which maintain inequalities based on race, class, and gender. It also provides an introduction to discursive analysis.The policy environment (Chapters 3-5). As a social phenomenon, policy grows out of a specific socioeconomic context. Chapters 3, 4, and S provide background for students about the most important dimensions of this context: economics, demographics, political structures, political culture, values, and ideology.
- The policy process (Chapters 6-11). Students can understand education policy—and how to influence it—only if they understand how it is developed, implemented, and assessed. Chapters 6 through 11 focus on this process, using the classical stage model. Chapter 6 introduces the major policy players, and the following chapters show them in action as policy issues are defined, moved onto the policy agenda, formulated, adopted, implemented, and evaluated.
- Retrospective and prospective (Chapter 12). This chapter seeks to provide students—who should now have a much more sophisticated understanding of education policy than they did when they started the book—with an historical framework for understanding the current education reform movement.
I have tried to make this book as user friendly as possible for both students and professors. To that end, I have provided the following special features:
- Focus questions. Each chapter opens with several questions that relate to the major content of the chapter. These questions serve as advance organizers for students, helping them identify the most important points as they read.
- Figures and tables. The figures and tables in this book summarize important points that would be tedious in paragraph form, give a visible form to theoretical material for visual learners, and provide an easy reference for the most important principles of political action.
- End-of-chapter activities. Every chapter (except Chapters 9 and 12) ends with at least four of these five types of learning activities for homework or class discussion: Questions and Activities for Discussion, a case study, a news story for analysis, a pro-con debate, and an Internet assignment. These activities can also be used as the basis for short papers.
- For further reading. Each chapter, except Chapter 9, ends with a short, annotated bibliography of books and articles on the topic covered in that chapter that students and professors can use to extend and deepen the material in the chapter.
NEW TO THIS EDITION
Much has happened since I prepared the final manuscript of the first edition in 1998: the technology revolution has continued unabated, a new census has been taken, the booming 1990s economy has faltered, the United States has experienced one of the most closely contested presidential elections of its history, and terrorist attacks on New York and Washington have led to a threat of war abroad and an unprecedented state of alert at home. In education policy, both school choice and standards-based reform have flourished; and concerns about the achievement gap related to race and class have grown. Therefore, numerous changes were needed for this second edition. I will briefly describe them below.
- Demographic and economic information has been up...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.