The End of Exceptionalism in American Education

The End of Exceptionalism in American Education The Changing Politics of School Reform

Jeffrey R. Henig
Pub. Date: January 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-513-8
paper, 248 Pages
Pub. Date: January 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-511-4
Price: $33.00

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Over the past fifty years, the “special status” of education decision-making has been eroded. Once the province of local and state school boards, decisions about schools and schooling have begun to emerge in every level and branch of government. In The End of Exceptionalism in American Education, Jeffrey R. Henig traces the roots of this tectonic shift in school governance.


In this elegantly argued treatise, the ever-thoughtful Jeff Henig makes a powerful case that a fundamental shift in the organization, funding, and evaluation of schooling is altering the scope and nature of American education. This is a book that every policy maker, reformer, and advocate for change would be wise to heed. — Frederick M. Hess, resident scholar and director of education, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

The intensity of education reform creates a climate of seeming chaos. Jeff Henig, a brilliant policy analyst, deftly shows us which way the wind is actually blowing. His analysis of the growing shift of educational governance from school boards to general purpose institutions is fascinating and has compelling implications for the future. — Paul Reville, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The End of Exceptionalism in American Education is an integrated, coherent analysis of the entire changing ecology for school governance. It provides a new perspective that transcends the old paradigm of centralization versus decentralization. — Michael W. Kirst, president, California State Board of Education, and professor emeritus, education and business administration, Stanford University

Henig’s skillful analysis demonstrates that institutions matter—a perspective often missing from studies of education policy. The result is a masterful overview of executives, legislatures, and courts from Washington, DC, to city hall and their role in shaping policy choices and mobilizing diverse interests. — Lorraine M. McDonnell, professor of political science, University of California, Santa Barbara

Henig’s book is impressive in its scope, rich in insight, and chock full of relevant evidence. — William T. Gormley, Jr, Perspectives on Politics

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About the Author

Jeffrey R. Henig is a professor of political science and education and chair of the Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also a professor of political science at Columbia University.

He is the author or coauthor of ten books, including The Color of School Reform: Race, Politics, and the Challenge of Urban Education (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Building Civic Capacity: The Politics of Reforming Urban Schools (University Press of Kansas, 2001), both of which were named—in 1999 and 2001, respectively—the best book written on urban politics by the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Spin Cycle: How Research Is Used in Policy Debates: The Case of Charter Schools (Russell Sage Foundation, 2008) won the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Outstanding Book Award, 2010. Most recently, Henig coedited and contributed to Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform (Harvard Education Press, 2010), winner of the Districts in Research and Reform SIG Best Book Award, 2012.

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Table of Contents

Interview with Author

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