chapter  1
11 Pages

An Overview of the Book

This book is for anyone who cares deeply about education. It is for anyone who believes education can be significantly improved and who is frustrated with the parade of educational “innovations” of the past half century that seem to have accomplished so little. During the 1970s, standardized test scores were steadily declining, while school budgets were increasing. From 1955 to 1985, per-pupil expenditures rose 300 percent after adjustment for inflation, and the growth in school budgets continues. For five decades Americans have pumped money into schooling. In 1984, Goodlad wrote in his report on American schools, “There is even a growing mood that some schools are now beginning to improve rather than continuing to get worse . . . The change in mood may stem from little more than the belief that conditions in our schools have bottomed out. The only way to go now is up” (p. xv). Public school per pupil expenditures increased from $5879 in 1985 to $9928 (in constant dollars) in 2007.1 Now, 25 years later, there is little evidence that schools are getting better.