American State and Local Politics: Directions for the 21st Century

By Ronald E. Weber; Paul Brace | Go to book overview

Preface and Acknowledgments

Editing a book on state-local politics which involves the caliber of authors we included was truly a daunting task. The idea for this book germinated a long time ago, and Edward Artinian played a principal role in making the project happen. It grew out of a frustration by one of the editors with the books available to adopt for use in supplementing core state-local politics texts. The range of options in supplementary texts are limited, and what an instructor faces is a tradeoff between volumes that focus too much on current events in the states and localities and those which do not have a sufficient range of topics providing a challenge to the students. Since state- local politics is usually taught in the state university context and much less so in the private university context, we decided to team up in the hope of stimulating some teaching of this topic in universities that have no tradition of dealing with state-local politics. One of us has spent his whole teaching career in state universities, while the other has taught in both public and private universities (and is currently teaching at a private university).

The theme of this book is political and policy change in the states and localities over the past three decades or so, with an explicit attempt to focus on institutional change. We have observed that such changes have occurred rapidly and that it is important for today's students to understand how much change has taken place that affects their current lives. To teach contemporary state and local politics and policymaking without reference to the recent past seems fruitless. This book is designed to overcome the myopia of current generations of students and to be relevant to the issues facing students in their contemporary lives. A number of our current students expect to focus on jobs in the public sector and need knowledge about the current operations of state-local politics. Whether we like it or not, the national public sector is not growing in employment opportunities, and it is to the state-local sector that current students must look for future employment. Future teachers, law enforcement officials, and social workers are among those who regularly enroll in state-local politics courses at state universities.

In planning this book we strove to find the most expert persons available to contribute each chapter. That meant we had to accommodate the busy schedules of active scholars. In almost all cases, we knew personally who we wanted to include as authors of the chapters. In a couple of cases, we did not know personally the particular person who would author the chapter and had to rely on recommendations made by other contributors.

-xiii-

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