American School Reform : What Works, What Fails, And Why
In 1994, the Annenberg Challenge, the biggest philanthropic investment in education reform at the time, was launched with great fanfare in a White House ceremony. Although efforts to complete a comprehensive cross-site evaluation of the Challenge ultimately failed—how on earth do you track and apply common measure to eighteen large projects, all uniquely fashioned to local contexts?—its researchers refused to give up entirely. The result is Cities and Their Schools, a study of large-scale school reform efforts in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and the Bay Area over roughly twenty years. In it, McDonald and his collaborators explore what reform really is, how it really works, how it fails, and how it can make a difference nonetheless. Laying out four main ideas about school reform in big American cities, McDonald traces them through the many reform efforts the book examines, and exposes the hidden logic of the creation and collapse of “action space” in the apparent chaos of school reform efforts.