During the 1980s, widespread dissatisfaction with America's schools gave rise to a powerful movement for educational change, and the nation's political institutions responded with aggressive reforms. Chubb and Moe argue that these reforms are destined to fail because they do not get to the root of the problem. The fundamental causes of poor academic performance, they claim, are not to be found in the schools, but rather in the institutions of direct democratic control by which the schools have traditionally been governed. Reformers fail to solve the problem-when the institutions ARE the problem. The authors recommend a new system of public education, built around parent-student choice and school competition, that would promote school autonomy- thus providing a firm foundation for genuine school improvement and superior student achievement.
"Theoretically innovative, empirically well-grounded, methodologically sophistcated, and bristling with provocative policy implications, this study is both path-breaking and definitive. What's more, it explains for the first time exactly how politics makes a difference in American education."--Paul E. Peterson, Harvard University "Surely the most eagerly awaited education book of the year, and very likely destined to become the most influential."--Chester E. Finn, Jr., Vanderbilt University "[Listed by Philanthropy as one of the Eight Books that Changed America]: [Chubb and Moe] have done nothing less than produce what is probably the most influential book on K-12 education of the last generation.... Some advocates have been frustrated that school choice hasn't made more political progress, but one things for sure: Without the pioneering work of Chubb and Moe, it wouldn't be where it is today. "--John J. Miller, National Review, "Philanthropy," 7/1/2002