On ‘Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit’

By Catherine A. Cardno — February 16, 2012 1 min read
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Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools, has just been published by Harvard Education Press. The book is edited by Education Week blogger Rick Hess, who is American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar and director of education, and Andrew P. Kelly, a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI. The pair decided to gather together a collection of essays written by education policy researchers and analysts in order to examine how the federal role in education policy and reform has developed over the past 50 years.

The book looks like an interesting one—I found Hess and Kelly’s note, on page vii, in the Acknowledgements particularly intriguing:

It seemed to us that there's much to be learned from a half-century of hard-won experience. To be useful for policy making, though, it's not enough to track this history in broad strokes or measurable outcomes. Rather, it's important to dig down into the practical, messy questions of program design and implementation and to discover what lessons might be learned.

By bringing together a varied group of authors, Hess and Kelly would like to move beyond the well-known debates and instead focus on what has been learned from the federal involvement in education. They give particular attention to the developments of the last few decades, which (as you all know) included the advent of No Child Left Behind in 2001.

Considering how far the federal role in education has expanded and how vigorous the debates on federal education policy have become, the editors decided to focus the volume on questions they feel are of heightened importance:

1. What have we learned from the last half-century of federal involvement, especially the last decade or two of significant federal activity? 2. What have we learned about which goals Uncle Sam is well-suited to pursue? 3. What have we learned about how federal efforts play out and about the limits of what federal activity can effectively accomplish?

It will be interesting to see how the book is received, and whether or not they have accomplished these goals. If you’ve had a chance to take a look at the volume, let me know what you think.

The crucial details:

Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly, eds., Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press, 2011).

ISBN-13: 978-1612501215
Publisher’s page: http://www.hepg.org/hep/book/153/CarrotsSticksAndTheBullyPulpit

A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.