The Transformation of Great American School Districts

The Transformation of Great American School Districts How Big Cities Are Reshaping Public Education

Edited by William Lowe Boyd, Charles Taylor Kerchner, and Mark Blyth
paper, 213 Pages
Pub. Date: June 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-891792-92-2
Price: $32.00

Add to Cart

Look Inside the Book

In The Transformation of Great American School Districts, William Lowe Boyd, Charles Taylor Kerchner, and Mark Blyth argue that urban education reform can best be understood as a long process of institutional change, rather than as a series of failed projects. They examine the core assumptions that underlay the Progressive Era model of public education—apolitical governance, local control, professional hierarchy, and the logic of confidence—and show that recent developments in school governance have challenged virtually all of these assumptions.


The Transformation of Great American School Districts provides fascinating portraits of the governance changes now occurring in America’s major urban school systems, along with a trenchant discussion of the extent to which these changes signal a new direction for American education. The book will make a strong contribution to research on the politics of education in the United States and shows the promise of applying insights from the new institutionalism to research on educational governance. — Brian Rowan, Burke A. Hinsdale Collegiate Professor in Education and Research Professor, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

An important analysis of the evolution of urban education and some provocative ideas about what might be next. Whether your interest is urban schools or American education more generally, you’ll learn from this book. — Andrew J. Rotherham , Co-Director of Education Sector, Member of the Virginia Board of Education, and Author of

This cogent collection employs a cultural/historical lens to assess the challenges communities face in their decades-long struggles to transform failing urban school systems. These groundbreaking reflections make a persuasive case for devoting more attention to the political, cultural, and social dimensions of district reinvention—an endeavor that is often treated as a technical challenge alone. — Warren Simmons, Executive Director, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

More Less

About the Editors

William Lowe Boyd is Batschelet Chair Professor of Educational Leadership at the Pennsylvania State University and editor of the American Journal of Education. A widely published specialist in education policy, politics, and administration, with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, he has served as president of the Politics of Education Association, as an officer of the American Educational Research Association, as a Fulbright Scholar in Australia and England, and as a visiting scholar at ten universities abroad. His has combined his interest in music and education though many summers in leadership roles at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. In November 2002, he received the “Roald F. Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award” from the University Council for Educational Administration.

Charles Taylor Kerchner is research professor at Claremont Graduate University. His academic work specializes in educational organizations, policy, and teacher unions. Along with David Menefee-Libey, Laura Mulfinger, and Stephanie Clayton, he is completing Learning from L.A., a book on institutional change in public education based on a case study of Los Angeles, to be published by Harvard Education Press. He received his PhD from Northwestern University, and prior to joining the CGU faculty in 1976 he was assistant director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and a reporter and editor at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.

Mark Blyth is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Johns Hopkins University. His research interests lie in the fields of comparative and international political economy. He is the author of Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2002), and has published in such journals as The American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics, World Politics, and West European Politics.

Table of Contents (PDF)

Introduction (PDF)

Other books in District-Based Reform

Districts That Succeed

Karin Chenoweth

Other books in District-Based Reform

Improving School Board Effectiveness

Edited by Thomas L. Alsbury and Phil Gore, foreword by Willard R. Daggett

Other books in District-Based Reform

Achieving Coherence in District Improvement

Susan Moore Johnson, Geoff Marietta, Monica C. Higgins, Karen L. Mapp, and Allen Grossman

Books From This Author

Learning from L.A.