Does mayoral control lead to better urban schools?
Mayors and Schools
Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education
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America's urban public schools are in crisis. Compared with their suburban counterparts, urban students have lower test scores and higher dropout rates. In an attempt to improve educational quality, responsibility for school governance has been handed over to mayors in several U.S. cities. Based on extensive research, including more than eighty in-depth interviews, Mayors and Schools examines whether mayoral control results in higher student achievement and considers the social costs of diminished community involvement.
Using a comparative case study approach, Stefanie Chambers researches the impact of mayoral educational control in two big-city school districts, Chicago and Cleveland. On the whole, she finds, student test scores have improved since the takeovers but there are now fewer opportunities for grassroots participation in the educational system by minority community members. Chambers contends that these findings have important implications for democratic theory, arguing that urban schools cannot be successful in the long run without the active participation of local citizens.
"In Mayors and Schools, Stefanie Chambers adds momentum to the trend of conducting comparative city studies. In an examination of school politics in Chicago and Cleveland, Chambers cautions that mayoral-led reform risks keeping parents and other community members on the periphery as urban education is reshaped. She gives us the important reminder that a preoccupation with executive efficiency may come at the cost of citizen involvement."
"I believe that this book will make a tremendous contribution to the current and future debates about urban school reform. The focus on two important U.S. cities will make it a must read for those interested in urban politics. The focus on minority incorporation will draw readers interested in race and American politics. Chambers' focus on urban school reform will make this book of interest to those who care about the state of America's urban school systems."
"[T]imely and nuanced…Chambers’ book is notable for its attention to historical context and its balanced presentation of competing evidence."
Part I. Introduction
Part II. The Politics of School Reform and Minority Political Empowerment
III. Measuring Success in Education Reform
Part IV. Conclusion
Appendix: Interview Questionnaires