Research Center Celebrates a Quarter Century as Leader in Legislative Policy Analysis
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When PACE was founded in the early 1980s, California's schools were in turmoil following the passage of Proposition 13, which indirectly limited public education funding. The good news is that PACE has grown significantly in size and stature since then-Graduate School of Education Professor James Guthrie (who taught in the GSE for 27 years), Stanford Professor Michael Kirst; and then-chancellor of the California Community Colleges Gerald Hayward founded PACE (originally called Policy Alternatives for California Education). And the other good news is that the independent policy center has...
School Finance and Governance in California
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Getting Down to Facts is the largest independent investigation ever of how California governs and funds public education. It was commissioned at the request of a bipartisan group of California leaders, including the governor’s Advisory Committee on Educational Excellence, the president protem of the California Senate, the speaker of the California Assembly, the superintendent of public instruction, and the state secretary of education. The purpose of this unprecedented project was to describe California’s school finance and governance systems, identify aspects of those systems that hinder the...
The Case of California
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Governance is widely believed to be an important determinant of the effectiveness of educational systems. Yet there are few systematic evaluations of the linkages between educational governance and student outcomes, or cogent frameworks for evaluating the effectiveness of governance arrangements in a way that can guide potential policy changes. This article attempts to provide such a framework by identifying indicators of effective educational governance systems drawn from previous research and more than forty interviews with stakeholders at all levels in California, the nation’s biggest...
The Influence of State Policy and Community
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Recent findings show that students attending charter schools in the United States achieve at comparable or lower levels to those enrolled in regular public schools, perhaps due to uneven quality and disparities in the levels of resources acquired by charter schools. But little is known as to what state and local factors contribute to disparate levels of resources in the charter school sector. This article examines how local context, the charter school’s organizational form, and state policies may influence material and human resources obtained by charter schools and their capacity to innovate...
How to Judge No Child Left Behind?
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As Congress reconsiders the federal government’s role in school reform, many policymakers feel pressure to claim that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is boosting student performance. But how should politicians and activists gauge NCLB’s effects? In this article, the authors offer evidence on three barometers of student performance, drawing from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and state data spanning 1992–2006. Focusing on the performance of fourth graders, where gains have been strongest since the early 1970s, the authors find that earlier test score growth has largely faded...
Collective Bargaining and Student Achievement
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Despite a statutorily narrow scope of bargaining, the scope of topics of union-management discussions has widened over the last 20 years, resulting in the birth of reform, or professional, unionism. But over the last half decade, professional unionism has waned. School management often refuses to see unions as partners; politicians fail to view unions as legitimately speaking for education change; and unions themselves are reluctant to assume added responsibility. This article advocates a change in labor law, requiring union and management to negotiate student achievement goals as a way of...
Spinning Out the Implications of the Improved School Finance
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Surely revenues are central to the quality of schooling—nearly everybody thinks so. Generations of reformers have come along, each needing more money. Advo­cates for equity have rediscovered inequalities in spending nearly every decade, from Ellwood Cubberly's complaints about reliance on local revenues a century ago; to Jonathan's Kozol's attack on "savage inequalities;" to the latest lawsuits such as Williams v. California, with its extensive documentation of disgusting bathrooms, crumbling buildings, dated textbooks, and inadequate teachers. Most school leaders and district administrators...
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Abstract: This article discusses the complex and subtle reasons why many people of Spanish-speaking ancestry—both Latin Americans and Spaniards—like to call themselves “Latinos.” Among other things, this word, coined by the Mediterranean countries to resist Anglo dominance in the 19th century, is currently being used by people of Spanish-speaking ancestry in the United States to express ethnic pride. Thus, the choice of the term “Latinos” over “Hispanics” moves the focus from a pan-ethnic historical identity to contemporary struggles for equality and the racialization of people of Spanish...
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When President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) into law on January 8, 2002, neither the National Education Association (NEA) nor the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) was on record supporting or opposing the new legislation. Rather, both the NEA and AFT remained neutral on the bill. What has transpired since the enactment of the statute is the story of the two organizations’ different approaches to the law. This article begins with an explanation of the organizations’ different responses in their pursuit of reform and explains some of the initial statutory compromises the...
Shaping the Landscape of Equity and Adequacy
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This article examines California’s system of school governance. The article’s overarching concern is how state structures and policies support or constrain the capacity of schools to deliver an adequate and equal education. Specifically, the article addresses the following questions: Who is responsible for ensuring that the state’s schools have adequate resources? What means are available to determine if schools’ curriculum, personnel, facilities, and instructional materials are adequate? What means exist for determining if schools are performing satisfactorily? What means exist for remedying...
California Policy, the 'Improved School Finance,' and the Williams Case
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This article applies the logic of the ‘‘improved’’ school finance, arguing the need to understand how resources are used at the school and classroom levels. While California policies and most court cases have been seriously inadequate from this perspective, the recent case of Williams v. California provides new opportunities for equity since it follows the logic of the ‘‘improved’’ school finance. This article was originally published in the Teachers College Record by Teachers College, Columbia University and SAGE Publications.
Centers and Home Settings that Serve Poor Families
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The effects of center-based care on early development, outside of carefully controlled demonstration programs, appear to be positive, if modest, for children from low-income families. But little is known about variation in the quality of centers and preschools found among low-income neighborhoods. Evidence also remains scarce on the observed quality of home-based care, the settings that most children attend and into which large infusions of federal dollars are now directed. This paper reports on the observed quality of 166 centers and 187 nonparental home settings (including family childcare...
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This article provides an abridged version of a report prepared for the lawsuit Williams v. State of California. The report first examines the achievement gap for English learners in California. Second, it reviews evidence in seven areas in which these students receive a substantially inequitable education vis-à-vis their English-speaking peers, even when those peers are similarly economically disadvantaged. Third, it documents the state’s role in creating and perpetuating existing inequities. Finally, it describes a series of remedies that the state could pursue to reduce these inequities...
Early Learning Effects of Type, Quality, and Stability
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Young children in poor communities are spending more hours in nonparental care because of policy reforms and expansion of early childhood programs. Studies show positive effects of high-quality, center-based care on children's cognitive growth. Yet, little is known about the effects of center care typically available in poor communities or the effects of home-based care. Using a sample of children who were between 12 and 42 months when their mothers entered welfare-to-work programs, this paper finds positive cognitive effects for children in center care. Children also display stronger...
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Many policymakers are shedding essential tenets of modern statecraft. Few seek to sustain the monolithic one best system of schooling: herding students through large institutions, regulated by bureaucracy and guided by professionals under monopolistic conditions. Instead, distinctly unmodern forms of policy and institutional reformation are in ascendance: Even when common aims of schooling are advanced, big and impersonal schools are yielding to small and communal ones; networks of alternative schools that offer options to diverse families are preferred over tightly coupled systems; and the...
Unequal Resources, Unequal Outcomes
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The Williams v. the State of California class action suit, brought on behalf of poor children in that state, argues that California provides a fundamentally inequitable education to students based on wealth and language status. This article, an earlier version of which was prepared as background to that case, reviews the conditions of schooling for English learners in the state with the largest population of such students, totaling nearly 1.6 million in 2003, and comprising about 40 percent of the nation’s English learners. This article argues, with evidence, that there are seven aspects of...
Constructions of Gender and Sexuality in California’s Single Gender Academies
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This article examines heterosexist assumptions and the role of homophobia in students’ experiences in California’s public “Single Gender Academies,’’ in an effort to include issues of sexuality in current discourses on adolescent gender identity and public school reform. Interviews with students, conducted as part of the most comprehensive research on public single-sex schooling in the U.S. to date, reveal a critical link between students’ notions of sexuality and definitions of masculinity and femininity. Alongside dichotomous, static notions of gender, the ideology and structure of the...
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Student mobility—students making nonpromotional school changes—is widespread in many schools and districts throughout the United States. Mobility not only can harm the students who change schools, it can also harm the classrooms and schools they attend. This article examines the incidence, causes, and consequences of student mobility in the United States. Research reveals that the causes and consequences of mobility are more complicated than many people assume. The final part of the article discusses what parents, schools, districts, and policymakers can do to address this growing educational...
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For the changes under welfare reform to posi­tively affect children, the gains that mothers make from employment must lead to improve­ments in children's daily settings at home, in childcare, at school, or in the community. This article focuses on the role childcare can play in promoting the development of, and life oppor­tunities for, low-income children. Key observa­tions include: Total federal and state funding for childcare for welfare and working poor families has in­creased dramatically since welfare reform, from $2.8 billion in 1995 to $8.0 billion in 2000. The majority of welfare...
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This paper examines the relationship between policy formation in the United States and educational policy researchers. The experience of one independent 'think tank', namely PACE, located within universities, illustrates how research might inform policy and how it might not be victim to the problems, well rehearsed in the literature, of poor dissemination. Fruitful links between policy research and policy formation require close attention to the sources, channels, and format of dissemination, to the nature of the message, and to the characteristics of the policymakers. This article was...
New Education Policy Center's Goal Is to Be Information Resource for Policymakers and Michigan Educators
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For years, the Michigan State University College of Education made outreach to lawmakers and educational leaders a priority. But earlier this year, the college took an important step forward in its outreach efforts when it established the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, a nonpartisan institution that has as its goal to provide those who make decisions about the state’s educational system with accurate and timely research-based information. It marks the college’s most ambitious and formalized effort to date in its long history of playing an important role in improving the...
How Mothers Balance Work Requirements and Parenting
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This paper examines the reasoning and experiences of mothers in selecting childcare while trying to meet welfare-to-work requirements. Three theoretical positions that have been used to look at child care selection—rational choice, structuralist, and cultural—are examined and critiqued in light of a structural developmental psychology perspective. The paper reports on semi-structured, open-ended interviews with seven mothers from three different ethnic groups—African-American, Anglo, and Latina—who range in age from 21 to 42. Interviews covered a 15 month period following the mothers’...
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The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides an opportune occasion to take a fresh look at the federal role in teacher professional development. Funds designed to improve teachers' professional prowess are currently tucked into a number of federally funded programs—programs, for example, for students living in poverty, for children with little or no Eng­lish language proficiency, and for schools engaged in so-called whole school reform. The largest federal professional development appropriation, and the only federal effort devoted entirely to this purpose...
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Although school dropout remains an important policy issue and has generated considerable research, little of this research has examined dropout as a measure of school performance. Even less attention has been paid to student turnover, another related measure of how well schools are keeping students enrolled. This study examined the distributions of both dropout and turnover rates among a large sample of U.S. high schools and tested a series of models to explain these differences, using data from the NELS High School Effectiveness Study and non­linear multilevel modeling. The results revealed...
The Influence of Family Structure, Parental Practices, and Home Language
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Recent work reveals sharp disparities in which types of children participate in center and preschools. Enrollment rates are especially low for Latino children, relative to Black and Anglo preschoolers, a gap that remains after taking into account maternal employment and family income. Early attempts to model parents' likelihood of enrolling their youngster in a center have drawn heavily from the household-economics tradition, emphasizing the influence of cost and family income. Yet this article shows that after controlling for household-economic factors, the household's social structure and...