Between the State and the Schoolhouse

Between the State and the Schoolhouse Understanding the Failure of Common Core

Tom Loveless
paper, 224 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2021
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-590-5
Price: $34.00

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cloth, 224 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2021
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-591-2
Price: $60.00

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Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2022

Between the State and the Schoolhouse examines the Common Core State Standards from the initiative’s promising beginnings to its disappointing outcomes. Situating the standards in the long history of state and federal efforts to shape education, the book describes a series of critical lessons that highlight the political and structural challenges of large-scale, top-down reforms.


Tom Loveless has written the definitive work on why federally mandated efforts to reform curriculum and instruction fail. He understands that any successful change must engage those who are expected to make the change happen: teachers. His book should be widely read to dispel the federal obsession of the past forty years with standards, accountability, and testing as levers of change. — Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error and Slaying Goliath

Between the State and the Schoolhouse is a measured and clever tour through the Common Core’s history, design, and (meager) results, and it utterly brims with lessons that future reformers would be wise to bear in mind. — Eric Kalenze, educator, researchED US organizer, and author of Education Is Upside-Down and What the Academy Taught Us

Tom Loveless uses the case of the Common Core to explain, in clear and engaging prose, how an appreciation and understanding of history and the political forces at play in education can be critical to finding more effective solutions to help children in schools. — Jonathan Wai, assistant professor of education policy and psychology and 21st Century chair, University of Arkansas

Loveless informs policy makers, professors, school administrators, and teachers about the many layers between the state and the classroom, which hinder the effectiveness of any national standard approach. This is a must-read text for anyone desiring to understand the debate over the standards movement and the role of federal and state governments in education reform.
— Choice Magazine

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About the Author

Tom Loveless is an education researcher and former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (1999–2014). From 2000 to 2017, he authored The Brown Center Report on American Education, an annual report analyzing important trends in education. Loveless has published widely in scholarly journals and appeared in popular media to discuss school reform, student achievement, and other education topics.

Loveless holds a PhD in education from the University of Chicago, an MA in special education from California State University, Sacramento, and an AB in English from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1979 to 1988, Loveless was a classroom teacher in the San Juan Unified School District, near his hometown of Sacramento, California. From 1992 to 1999, Loveless was an assistant and associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. At Brookings, Loveless served as director of the Brown Center on Education Policy from 1999 to 2008.

From 2004 to 2012, Loveless represented the United States at the General Assembly of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Assessment, a sixty-nation organization that governs international testing. From 2006 to 2008, he was a member of the president’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

Table of Contents


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