Educational Reform at the State Level: The Politics and Problems of Implementation

Educational Reform at the State Level: The Politics and Problems of Implementation

Educational Reform at the State Level: The Politics and Problems of Implementation

Educational Reform at the State Level: The Politics and Problems of Implementation

Synopsis

This book sets out to describe the personal experiences of a state worker in Missouri as she attempted to implement educational reform programmes in the late 1980's. This was a critical time in America as other states were mandating new regulations to improve the quality of schools. Problems emerged such as lack of resources, bureaucratic red tape, and a dysfunctional administrative structure caused chaos, hampering the ability of the state workers to regulate and administer the new programmes. Some of the superintendents who did not believe in the new programmes resisted by abusing state funds and witholding information so teachers could not participate. This is a timely case study as legislators play a more important role in developing schools and the state will become the responsible agency to implement reform. Madsen's experience verifies the policy implementation literature and cites several new theoretical perspectives on the important role of the state agency in determining the success or failure of mandated reform programmes. The study indicates the need for state agencies to change their perspectives from regulation to service orientation if reform programmes are to succeed in schools.

Excerpt

Educational Reform at the State Level is a very intense personal account of an idealistic educator’s coming to grips with the ‘realities’ of educational innovation and change at the state level. Professor Jean Madsen worked for three years as a lower level State Department of Education official during a time of strong sentiments and action for reform emanating from the Governor’s office and from the State legislature. Her book reconstructs that experience for readers’ interested in how a State Department of Education attempted to carry out the directives from the State capital. the story is a tale of frustration for her and difficulties in changing an educational system as diverse and complicated as schooling is in late twentieth century America, even in an arena as restricted as one state department working with local public schools.

As one further, small but significant illustration of the complications of mixed interests and agendas it is important for me as writer of this ‘Foreword’ to indicate my relationship with Jean. We met first through the recommendation of a mutual friend who thought that the discussion of methodology of an early aera presentation of the project might be shored up by talking with me. We elaborated that into both conversations and participation in a qualitative research methods seminar that I offered. the benefits in bringing her ideas and problems to the group, and, in turn, receiving comments from experienced educators working on their own Ph.D. and post-Ph.D. problems and projects were beneficial all the way around. in the best sense I tried to be a ‘critical advocate’ or a ‘friendly critic’. in agreeing to write this brief statement I am taking the role one step further. Each reader can make his or her own judgment.

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