Building the Federal Schoolhouse: Localism and the American by Douglas S. Reed

By Douglas S. Reed

During the last fifty years, the federal government's efforts to reform American public schooling have reworked U.S. colleges from locally-run agencies into advanced platforms together developed by means of federal, kingdom, and native actors. the development of this federal schoolhouse-an academic procedure with universal nationwide expectancies and practices-has essentially altered either schooling politics and the norms governing academic coverage on the neighborhood point.

Building the Federal Schoolhouse examines those matters via an in-depth, fifty-year exam of federal academic guidelines in the neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, a prosperous but socially various suburb of Washington, D.C. The epochal social modifications that swept via the United States long ago part century hit Alexandria with specific strength, remodeling its Jim Crow university procedure right into a new immigrant gateway district inside generations. alongside the best way, the college procedure has struggled to supply caliber schooling for detailed wishes scholars, and has sought to beat the legacies of monitoring and segregated studying whereas at the same time keeping upper-middle category scholars. such a lot lately, it has grappled with kingdom and federally imposed responsibility measures that search to spice up academic results. All of those coverage projects have contended with the prevailing political regime inside Alexandria, from time to time forcing it to a verge of collapse, and at different occasions reconstructing it. all of the whereas, the neighborhood expectancies and governing realities of directors, mom and dad, politicians, and citizens have sharply limited federal tasks, proscribing their scope whilst in clash with neighborhood commitments and amplifying them after they align.

Through an intensive use of neighborhood records, modern debts, tuition info, and interviews, Douglas S. Reed not just paints an intimate portrait of the conflicts that the federal schoolhouse's production has wrought in Alexandria, but additionally records the successes of the federal dedication to larger academic chance. In so doing, he highlights the complexity of the yankee schooling country and the centrality of neighborhood regimes and native ancient context to federal academic reform efforts.

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American Political Development and Education Policy” examines how 6 Building the Federal Schoolhouse the literature of American political development (APD) sheds light on education politics in the United States and how the central concerns of APD reveal important facets of contemporary educational policymaking. S. Department of Education) both simultaneously merge and remain distinctive as they develop and implement education policy. By conceiving of the American education state not as grouping of segmented entities arrayed in a federalist structure but more as partners, collaborators, enemies, and rivals struggling over how to reconcile federal demands with localist imperatives, I hope to contribute to a larger conversation within political science about the nature of the American state and how public education presents particular difficulties for both analysts and constructors of the American state.

In contrast, to the extent that federal reforms reinforce and entrench regime patterns and habits they will be readily absorbed and implemented. Thus the conundrum of federal education reform in the context of operational localism is the following: If the commitments of the local regime present a primary obstacle to effective learning within schools, the federal reform effort will have to undermine the existing political framework that organizes schooling within that locality. To the extent that the local school system is thoroughly enmeshed within the local regime, that process of undermining regime commitments may, ironically, destabilize the local political environment, rendering it less capable of sustaining reform in the midst of change.

By examining how Alexandria, Virginia has engaged four education policy issues over a fifty-year period, the book undertakes both a “within case” process tracing of specific policy initiatives and “cross-case” comparisons of particular federal policies. Doing so requires not only a narrative account of the political history of Alexandria in the second half of the twentieth century, but also an examination of particular pivot points in the implementation of federal education policies and how they intersected with (and partially changed) local regime imperatives within Alexandria.

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