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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 12, no. 60 (October 27, 2004).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c October 27, 2004
Systemic reform in a federated system : Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium / David Menefee-Libey.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright is retained by the first or sole author, who grants right of first publication to the Education Policy Analysis Archives EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. Articles are indexed in the Dir ectory of Open Access Journals (www.doaj.org). Volume 12 Number 60 October 27, 2004 ISSN 1068-2341 Systemic Reform in a Federated System: Los Angeles at the Turn of the Millennium David Menefee-Libey Pomona College Citation: Menefee-Libey, D. (2004, Octobe r 27). Systemic reform in a federated system: Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12 (60). Retrieved [date] from ht tp://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v12n60/. Abstract I synthesize some of the lessons we have learned about systemic school reform in order and deri ve two explicit hypotheses about when such reforms are likely to be more and le ss successful. The first hypothesis focuses on program implementation: to achieve success, any systemic reform must overcome challenges at each stage of the policy-making process, from agenda-setting to pol icy choice to impl ementation. The second hypothesis focuses on the federated nature of education policymaking in the United States: any successful system ic reform must offer a program that aligns local efforts with state and sometime s federal policy. I derive and test more specific hypotheses related to recent systemic reform efforts in the Los Angeles regionespecially the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project, or LAAMPwhich ran from 1995 through 2001. The case confirms the hypotheses and enables a clearer understanding of systemic school reform.
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 2 Over the last twenty years the most inte nse efforts at reforming public education have been focused on large urban districts. As reform efforts co ntinued, it became popular to speak of reforms as systemic, designed to alter th e whole of a school district rather than only a few schools or classrooms. In political and policy te rms, systemic reform often equated to establishing a large civic coalitionbusiness, labor, elected officials, community organizationsall backing a reform plan that wa s partly financed by philanthr opists or foundations. In Paul Hills words, reformers agreed that it takes a city to carry out effective systemic school reform (Hill, 2000). This pattern of local coalitions of bi g-city school reformers could be seen from New York to San Diego, from Seattle to Miami, each developing specific initiatives for their own citys school systems. It is fair to say that no ne of these reforms have ha d the systemic effects they intended. Despite two decades of creative and intensive work, urban education in the United States today is substa ntially similar to urban education in the United States in 1983, before the publication of A Nation at Risk (National Commissio n on Excellence in Education, 1983). After several waves of systemic reform, urban public school systems are organized and function in substantially si milar ways and produce substantially similar outcomes. The chal lenge for policy analysts is to make sense of all this, to explain the fate of such reforms. This article seeks to advance the developm ent of such an explanation. In it, I synthesize some of the lessons we have learned ab out systemic school reform and derive two explicit hypotheses abou t when such reforms are like ly to be more and less successful. The first hypothesi s focuses on the consistently vexing problem of program implementation: to achieve success, any pr ogram of systemic re form must overcome challenges at each st age of the policy-making processag enda setting, po licy choice, and implementationin order to bring conseque ntial action in offices and classrooms throughout a district. Each of these stages involves a distinct set of constituencies working in distinct political arenas, and a re form programs success in one arena carries no promise of success in any other. This is es pecially difficult in a separation of powers system, where policy making and policy implementation are re quired to be conducted by separate institutions. The second hypothesis focuses on the federated nature of the American political system: any successful systemic reform must offer a progra m that aligns local efforts with state and sometimes federal policy. De spite the long history of local control in education policy making, in recent years st ate governments have come to play an increasingly decisive role, and national policy makers show signs of expanding their reach as well. The interplay among levels of government commo n in all other policy domains is increasingly visible in education policy making. I apply this analysis by developing hypotheses that ca n be tested on the case of recent systemic reform efforts in the Los An geles region. In particular, I explore the local Annenberg projectthe Los Angeles An nenberg Metropolitan Project, or LAAMP which ran from 1995 throug h 2001. As we would predict from this analysis, the politically successful LAAMP civic coalition ran into common problems bringing their program into schools and classr ooms. As we would further expect from this analysis, the major provisions of the LA AMP program of systemic refo rm worked best when they aligned with statewide California policy initiatives, and ran into significant barriers when they ran at cross-purposes with state policy. After considering th e Los Angeles case in some detail, I close with a brief considerati on of the policy and rese arch consequences of
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 3 this synthesis for our understa nding of LAAMP in particular and the broader politics of systemic urban public school reform in the United States. I. Making Sense of School Reform Politics The Implementation Problem Everyone involved with public educat ion has come to recognize that urban public school reform can be fragmented and chaotic, as the political fortunes of competing proposals and reformer s wax and wane in various se gments of the system (for example, Elmore and McLaughlin, 1988; Cuban, 1990; Hess, 1 999; Cibulka and Boyd, 2003). At its worst, reform can become merely improvisational, with no clear focus or purpose (Kerchner and Menefe e-Libey, 2003). Even when coherent, however, school reforms are rarely impl emented smoothly and thoroughly. They are usually delayed and modified in the process, as they mesh with organizations and previous reforms already in place (Tyack and Cuban, 1995). This is certainly not un ique to educational policy making. Charles Lindblom observed decades ago that even in cohesive policy domains, policy making is usually done by trial and error (Lindblom, 1959). Anthony Downs showed that shifting coalitions and a fickle pub lic made for incoherent envi ronmental policy making, for example, even as the Environmental Prot ection Agency was be ing created (Downs, 1972). If we think of successf ul policy as progressing from ag enda setting, to legislation or mandates, to implementation, scholars agree that this process almost always brings vexing political challenges. The problem of implementation is nearly universal (Goggin et al 1990; Peters, 1999). Yet elementary and secondary education policy presents an unusually difficult case. It is a huge and disaggregated sector, with more than 15,000 diverse school districts in 50 states cumulatively educat ing more than 50 milli on children, spending hundreds of billions of doll ars, employing millions of te achers and other staff, and responsible for a wild array of policies (Wirt et al 2003). Only the health care sector in the United States approaches education in its Byzantine complexity. Policy analysts often descri be implementation as the ta il end of a linear process, which can be depicted schematically as in Figure 1. Th is conveyor-belt sequence is a simplification; every aspect of this process is always occurring simultaneously in the education sector, just as it is in every pol icy domain (Stone, 2002). Nevertheless, the schematic helps to reveal a powerful conund rum about policy making in general, and education policy in particular: there is a logi c to the fragmentation. Each stage of the policy process involves a distinct set of political players. To take the examples shown in Figure 1, the Los Angeles ci vic leaders who in 1994 embra ced the national Annenberg Challenge and initiated the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project or LAAMP were powerful agenda setters. But the members of LAAMPs board played only a limited role in 1995-1996 writing the particular memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between LAAMP and the various school districts that chose to take pa rt in the program, and it was those MOUs that were in effect the enacted policy of systemic reform for several groups of schools in the Los Angeles region. And the lawyers and policy specialists who negotiated those MOUs, in tu rn, did not go into classrooms around the region to teach new mater ial to schoolchildren for the next five years.
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 4 Agenda setting and identification of alternatives Policy choice: legislation or mandates Implementation Example: Los Angeles civic leaders negotiate agreement with Annenberg Foundation to launch LAAMP as a local affiliate of the national Annenberg Challenge (1994-1995). LAAMP enters into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with several school districts in Los Angeles region to change policies on teacher training and instructional practice (1995-1996). Teachers in participating schools teach children with curricula that mesh across grade levels and schools (19962000). Figure 1. Education policy as a linear pr ocess? Examples from the 1990s in Los Angeles In education policy as in almost every other policy doma in in the United States, initiatives are contested at each step of the way, in each distinct political arena, among the many people and groups that have a stake in the performance and quality of government activity. Education presents an especially vexing example of this fraught process because the de velopment of K-12 education polic y involves an unusually broad and diverse array of political participants, ra nging from parents, students, teachers and citizens in local commun ities up to federal officials and even candidates for President of the United States (Wirt and Kirst, 2001). Ea ch stage of the policy process offers distinct advantages and challenges to the various kind s of participants. For example, while civic leaders may have substantial agenda setting power, they may have little influence over actual lawmaking. Likewise, while lawmaker s write the policy, th ey play no role in implementing reform at the school or classroom level. Further, few of these participants have strong incentives to cooperate with each other. Even if they did, in a separation of powers system they might not have the capacity to cooperate effectively in developing and carrying out reforms. Thus, the implementation conundrum for school reform, and especially for systemic reform: we would pred ict that to achieve su ccess, any program of systemic reform must overcome challenges at each stage of the policy-making process and bring consequential action in offices and classrooms throughout a district. A Federated System Let us further complicate the analysis. Although many urban systemic reform initiatives have focused on a particular city or school district, elementary and secondary education is increasingly governed at the st ate level. Locally-focused systemic reform makes sense from an historical perspective, given that local control has been the hallmark of American education since the beginnings of public schooling in the 1820s (Kirst, 1995 p. 29). Systemic reformers ha ve focused on local st rategies because thats where the power has always been. But as Michael Kirst ha s demonstrated, states began assuming increasing authority over a variety of sc hool policies in the 1960s and 1970s, and the pace of their
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 5 growing power has only increased in recent ye ars. States now ad minister categorical grants (their own and those of the federal government), they oversee and often equalize school finance, they prescribe curriculum, th ey train most and certify all public school teachers, they provide services to specific populations like the handicapped, and the list goes on and on. Finally, much of the national debate about K-12 schools and school reform in this new century has focused on testing and accountability, a policy issue increasingly controlled at the state level. What does this state activity mean fo r urban school reform ? Simply put, it demonstrates that we must rethink the noti on of systemic reform, commonly offered as a promising strategy for school improvem ent. The federated system of school governance means that systemic reform must work effectively not only with the various components of an urban school district, but also with state policy. To borrow another common school reform term, any urban reform initiative not well aligned with state policyno matter how well tailored to the pa rticulars of the local situationis doomed to failure. A citys reformers must either devise a systemic reform program consistent with state policy, or they must convince state policy makers to change state law in ways that will advance the local reform. To return to the schematic notion of Fi gure 1, we can add a second dimension to the chart that represents the various levels of school governance. In its most complex form, this second dimension might include le vels for the national go vernment, the state, the district, the school and the classroom. For simplicitys sake, lets just include the national and state governments, districts and schools in Figure 2. This helps to clarify the example from Figure 1, while for example the LAAMP program focused on Los Angeles area districts and schools, its deve lopment and implementa tion was shaped by national and particularly state politics and policy. This clarifies a second conu ndrum. Just as the variou s participants in the policy process often lack good reason s or capacities to cooperate in implementation, so too the participants at the various levels of school government may lack reasons or capacities to collaborate in making and implementing educational programs and policy. Clinton-era struggles between th e federal government and stat e legislatures over Goals 2000 curriculum frameworks illustrate this conund rum well. The interests and values that various state legislatures pursue while ma king educational poli cy may bear little resemblance to the interests and values of the U.S. Congress or the White House. Similarly, local political actors and dynamics in urban area school systems may be quite different from those in stat e capitols or Washington, DC Nevertheless, federal and particularly state policy makers have the authorit y to demand that districts and schools comply with their rules and demands. Th us, the federated nature of the American political system drives a second hypothesi s about systemic refo rm: any successful systemic reform must offer a program that aligns local efforts with state and perhaps federal policy.
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 6 Agenda setting and identification of alternatives Policy choice: legislation or mandates Implementation National government Presidential election campaigns, executiveCongressional negotiations Title I of ESEA; Goals 2000; subsidizing 100,000 new teachers; ObeyPorter grant program U.S. Dept of Education grantmaking, oversight State government Gubernatorial election campaigns, executive-legislative negotiations Three different testing regimes; STAR accountability requirements; teacher recruitment and training; Class Size Reduction Allocation of money to school districts and schools; oversight of categorical programs School districts LAAMP civic coalition in Los Angeles region LAAMP reform codified in several districts: families of schools, each with a distinct plan for improvement Budgeting, teacher allocation, oversight and monitoring Schools Parent involvement in writing Site Action Plans Limited participation in shaping details of LAAMP program Principals and teachers carry out LAAMP program and plans Figure 2. Adding a Simplified Second Di mension, with examples from the 1990s Applying This Analysis to the Los Angeles Case Let us turn to a consideration of th e LAAMP program in Los Angeles to see whether this analysis helps our understanding of the case. Take each of the established hypotheses in turn. The Implementation Challenge. First, we expect that in a complex and fragmented policy making system, any progra m of systemic reform must overcome the challenges of moving from policy idea to mandate to actual implementation. There can be no doubt that K-12 public education in Los An geles is complex and fragmented. At the time civic leaders were forming the Lo s Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project in 1994 and 1995, th e Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) alone enro lled more than 635,000 students and had an an nual budget of more than $4.5 billion (M enefee-Libey & Mokyr, 2003). Though LAUSD was only one of 83 districts in Los Angeles County, it comprise d nearly half of the countys K-12 public education system. The sprawlin g 650 square mile district enco mpassed all or part of two dozen different cities, and employed more than 50,000 teachers and staf f. It had a large, professionalized and hierarchic al structure that had evolved over decades of repeated
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 7 reorganization and reform. Los Angeles sch ool politics had also evolved into a world unto itself, separated from city politics and dominated by a contentious relationship between the district an d a powerful teachers union, United Teachers of Los Angeles or UTLA (Menefee-Libey et al 1997). Any observ er could reasonably predict that any initiative promising systemic reform of LAUSD, let alone school s in several districts ac ross Los Angeles County, would struggle at every stage of the policy process, from agenda setting to en actment to implementation The Federated System. The challenges of carrying out a local systemic reform while coordinating education policy among the various levels of government are also powerful in the Los Angeles ca se. Indeed, by the mid-1990 s California was unusually far along the path toward state-level dominance of elem entary and secondary education policy. Nearly 60% of all pu blic school spending in California came from the states general fund (EdSource 1998, 23). Twenty-three percent more came from property tax revenues, which have been cont rolled by state law since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. Inequalities among dist rict expenditures throughout the state are governed by Serrano vs. Priest a California lawsuit that produced a state court equalization decree in 1976. The state controls more than just the level of funding for ea ch district in California. Increasingly since the 1980s, the state controls what districts and schools spend their money on. General purpose funds, over which school districts have substantial control, have de clined from 83.4% of K-12 sp ending in 1990-1991 to less than 70% in recent years (Leg islative Analysts Office 2002, p. E-76). Al locations of these general purpose funds are often bey ond the easy control of school boards and administrators, as a substantial proportion of th em is spent on salaries and benefits, most of which are negotiated through collective bargaining mandated by the state. Generally, about 65% of a districts operating budget is mediated by its labor contracts. Non general purpose funds that remain must be spent by distri cts on specific categorical programs, notably special education, class si ze reduction, child ca re and development, instructional programs targeted at racial and ethnic minorit y students, adult education, and so on. This is in additi on to the 8-10% of overall fund s that come from the federal government, virtually all of which is categorically encumbered (EdSource, 1998 and 2002). At the end of the day, the autonomy of local districts in managing their own affairsto say nothing abou t their ability to achieve sy stemic reformwas sharply constrained by the time LAAMP began its work. This growth in state cont rol continued throughout the period under investigation here. Californias governors ushered in dram atic school reform initiatives: among other things, Pete Wilson (1991-1 998) embraced the Stanford-9 standardized tes t, literacy programs, and Class Size Redu ction, and Gray Davis (19992003) secured passage of the Academic Performance Index (API), a high school exit exam, teacher development programs, and a set of reading initiatives (Kirst, Hayward and Fu ller, 2000). Indeed, even when the economic slowdown and a de cline in tax revenues forced California governments at all levels to scale back, both major party candidates in the 2002 campaign for governor proposed ambitious K-12 refo rms, and Arnold Schwar zenegger in his 2003 gubernatorial recall campaign proposed no reductions in sc hool spending. A similar pattern has played out in the state legislatures. During the 2001-2002 term, for example, the California Senate and Assembly educat ion committees reported out 196 bills, of which 90 were passed into law (California Assembly Educ ation Committee, 2002). Thus,
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 8 we can hypothesize that California is perhaps the ultima te setting in which any urban systemic reform initiative must coordinate with state policy in order to survive In the remainder of this article, I test these hypotheses about the challenges of implementation and federalism by applying them to the case of the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Projects program of systemic re form during the period from 1995 through 2001. The broade r description of the Los Angeles regions school reform politics and policy is drawn from archival an d field research cond ucted by the author since 1993, including personal interviews with personnel from LEARN and LAAMP, administrators at the school district office and school sites, sc hool board members, teachers and their union, as well as members of the broader community. Findings from that research have been reported in Menefee-Libey et al (1997), Shipps and MenefeeLibey (1997), Bryk et al (1998), Kerchner and Menefee-Li bey (2003), and Menefee-Libey and Mokyr (2003). The description of LAAMP operations co ntained in this article is based on personal observation, individual interviews, focus groups and the collection and analysis of documents conducted as pa rt of a broader ongoing re search program by Charles Kerchner, David Menefee-Libey, DeLacey Ganl ey, Jason Abbott and St ephanie Clayton. Members of the research team interviewed most of the LAAMP boards executive committee members, some of the boards ot her active members, and superintendents from virtually all LAAMP-partici pating school districts. Fo cus groups were held with LAAMP staff, and selected in terviews were held with educational leaders outside of LAAMP itself. All together, ap proximately 50 interviews were held, each la sting between 45 minutes and 3 hours. Resp ondents were assured of an onymity. This research program produced two previous reports: Kerc hner, Abbott, Ganley and Menefee-Libey (2000), and Ganley, Kerchner, Menefee-Libey an d Abbott (2001). It was affiliated with the Los Angeles Compact on Evaluation (LAC E), an Annenberg-sponsored collaborative based at the University of So uthern California and the Univer sity of California at Los Angeles. This article draws on LACE reports as noted. As of August 2004, information about LAAMP and many of the organizations important documents were still available online at http:/ /www.laamp.org. II. Systemic Reform in Los Angeles In early 1994, shortly after Ambassado r Walter Annenberg announced his plans to give $500 million to publ ic education, Annenberg's fr iend and advisor, Vartan Gregorian, called University of Southern Ca lifornia (USC) president Steven Sample to ask if Los Angeles would be interested in participating in the Annenberg Challenge. Gregorian was assured that Los Angeles would indeed be interested, and the effort to form what became the Los Angeles Annenber g Metropolitan Project began. Although LAAMP was a new organization, it joined an ongoing stream of reform efforts that shaped the Annenberg Challenge while in turn, being shaped by it. Current approaches to sc hool reform began to develop in California and Los Angeles in the early 1980s, just as the publication of A Nation at Risk the federal government's attention-grabbing report that is considered the origin of the current school reform era, gained national atte ntion (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983). In Californi a that same year, Su perintendent of Public Instruction Bill
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 9 Honig pushed successfully for legislative passage of the Hughes-Hart Educational Reform Act, popularly know n as SB 813, which mandated sweeping reforms of curriculum and assessment as well as increase d parental involvement in schools. Less than two years later, a group of business and civic leaders formed the Los Angeles Educational Partnership (LAE P), a nonprofit organization that helped to develop innovative curriculum and provide assistance for teachers and schools in LAUSD. Reform proposals in Los Angeles shifted to systemic approaches in the late 1980s, first in 1989 when after a two-week st rike the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) settled a labor contra ct with LAUSD that mandated a shift toward site-based management (SBM) of the district's schools an d budget. (A time-l ine of political and organizational events is shown in Figure 3. ) Pressure came from a markedly different direction a year later with the launch of Kids 1st, a community-based effort pressing for safer and better schools. Kids 1st included se veral grassroots organizations, all with ties to the Industrial Areas Foundation: Unit ed Neighborhood Organizing Committee of East Los Angeles (UNO), South Central Organizing Comm ittee (SCOC), East Valleys Organization (EVO) and the San Fernando Valley Organized in Community Efforts (VOICE). It was chaired by businessman Richard Riordan and UTLA president Helen Bernstein. The group comman ded attention by mobilizing 3, 000 people to join a safe schools rally in July 1990. It commanded even more attention when it mobilized 15,000 for a similarly themed rally the following October. In early 1993, less than a year before the national launch of the Annenberg Challenge, many of these Los Angeles efforts came togeth er to produce Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now (L EARN), the reform effort that provides the most important context for LAAMP.
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 10 Figure 3. A Time-Line of Importan t Educational Reform Developments in Los Angeles and California, 1989-2001 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 California Governor George Deukmejian Pete Wilson Gray Davis California state-level policy developments Recessio n begins Prop 98 sets floor for general fund spending on schools CLAS (California Learning Assessmnt System) test Charter school law Prop 174 voucher initiative defeated CLAS ended Prop 187 (immigrant services) passed CSR (Class Size Reduction) initiated STAR (Standardized Testing And Reporting) Prop 227 (Limiting bilingual instructn), Teacher recruitmnt & training changes API (Academic Performance Index), Literacy initiative State budget shortfall LAUSD district superintendent Leonard Britton William Anton Sid Thompson R u b e n Zacarias Ray Cortines Roy Romer UTLA teacher union president Wayne Johnson Helen Bernstei n D a y Higuchi LAUSD and Los Angeles region developments LAUSD teacher strike and settlement SiteBased Management (SBM) initiated School district budget cuts Board endorses LEARN Clusters reorganization initiated LAAMP program initiated LEARN model abandoned, Zacarias begins recentralization Reform school board elected Subdistricts initiated LAAMP program ends Civic leadership developments Kids 1st LEARN formed Richard Riordan elected LA Mayor Annenberg Challenge, LAAMP organized DELTA created Riordan reelected, begins recruiting school board candidates L o s Angeles Alliance for Student Achievement organized James Hahn elected LA Mayor Grass-roots leadership developments Kids 1st LEARN formed Ernie Cortes, UNO effort begins LAAMP organized PLP, LA PIQUE F I S (Families In Schools)
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 11 From LEARN to LAAMP in Los Angeles: Forming the Civic Co alition and Setting the Agenda In March 1993, after two years of political organizing, program development, public outreach, and government lobbying, LEARN gain ed an endorsement of its sweeping school reform proposals from the boar d of LAUSD. LEARN's program of decentralized decision making and broad collaboration among pr incipals, teachers, parents, and other "stakeholders" promised to remake the dist rict and refocus LAUS D schools on student achievement. LEARN planned to start small in September, with fe wer than three dozen participating schools, and then expand to encomp ass all of the more than 650 schools in the district within five years. In its reports of the boards endorsement of the plan, the Los Angeles Times reported that School board member Ma rk Slavkin said the plan will serve as a new constitution for this school system. Member Jeff Horton expressed the view that a program with such public supp ort was bound for success: We nave never seen such broad participation in a school reform movement in the history of this district. (Banks and Chavez 1993) In fact, this ambitious systemic program would take four years to reach more than half the districts school s and it foundered on central o ffice and school-level resistance, but LEARNs civic coalition di d command broad support during its first two years of the programs implementation. During LEARN's early stages, Ambassador Walter Annenberg announced his plan to give $500 million to improv e America's public kindergarten through high school (K-12) system. Annenberg's December 1993 announcement initially was received with ambivalence in Los Angeles, where LEARN and a variety of other reforms were already well established polit ically. People wondered whether the city needed an additional reform program, particularly one from out of town. Still, Gregorian, then the president of Brown University, articulated an An nenberg Challenge vision of a public-private co llaboration that was consistent with the city's recent history of educational re form. In addition, Theodore Sizer's ideas about school autonomy fit well with broadly accepted ideas about reform in Los Angeles. Sizer was head of the Annenberg Inst itute and founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools. The Annenb erg Challenge also carried ad vantages not lost on local reformers: linkages to a visible national n etwork and, of course, badly needed fiscal resources. Unfortunately, li ke LEARN, the LAAMP program commanded little legislative or financial support from state policy makers in Sacramento. The Annenberg Challenge spar ked enough interest among educational reformers in Los Angeles that several local civic leaders, including some LEARN "Working Group" members, began the work need ed to bring the Annenberg Ch allenge to Los Angeles. Although this group was initially led by USC's Steven Sample, he quickly handed leadership to Virgil Roberts, an attorn ey and longstanding school re form activist. Roberts had previously worked with LAEP and LEARN. As his first main task, Roberts helped assemble an initial board of directors who could write an d submit a proposal for a new school reform initiative in Los Angeles (LAAMP 1994). In December 1994, the Annenberg Foundation rewarded this grou p's efforts when it announced that it was allocating $53 million to support LAAMP. From early 1994 Roberts and his collea gues worked to develop the LAAMP organization and its program. The two ta sks were deeply intertwined; they developed a broader civic coalition capable of developing and sustaining a program of systemic reform. As the leaders pulled together LAAMP's board of directors and filled top staff positions,
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 12 several of their decisions had important co nsequences for the program, its public viability, and its effe ctiveness in schools. Three pivotal decisions ab out the scope of LAAMPea ch taken at the strong urging of Sizer and Gregoria n at the Annenberg Foundation but with active agreement from the reform players in Los Angelesstand out as especially important. First, the initial leaders agreed to form a new school reform organization in Los Angeles instead of making LAAMP a project of an existing organization or group. Affiliating with local universities was an available option, particularly because several of the early organizers of the LAAMP effort came from local institut ions of higher education, name ly USC and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The most obvious preexisting organization with which LAAMP could have teamed was LEARN. As noted earlier, LEARN already had established a community base and a working bo ard of directors; it had suc cessfully campaigned to gain broad endorsements of its reform program fr om foundations and institutions; and it was the official reform effort of LAUSD, comple te with the support of the school board. A relationship with LEARN was obviously impor tant to LAAMP, for LAAMPs first major financial decision was to contribute nearly $5 million to help fund LEARN's training program for the 1995996 school year. Bu t the Annenberg Foundation and LAAMP's leaders had a vision that in many ways extended beyond the scope of LEARN, so they declined to simply merge the two projects For example, LAAM P would take a more prescriptive approach than LEARN when it ca me to using standardiz ed testing and other assessments as performance in dicators for schools, the pr ofessional development of teachers, and collaboration with other reform participants beyond a single school, among other things. As one of our respondents noted: The LEARN reform . wa s not going in that dire ction, didnt have its roots there. Its roots were more in W ere going to structure [school-level] leadership so that th ey can have power over budgets. And thats really, in practice, where they were headedthat, and teachers shall have decisionmaking. And that was a very, very powe rful strategy in practice. The [LAAAMP] proposal to the Annenberg Foundation, while it includes this, is very very rich in the action principles for reform, which include auth entic assessment, which include peer and collegial support for each other, collaboration. The leaders of LAAMP clearly saw their approach as being unique in Los Angeles, and wanted to build an organizati on around this approach. Their decision to create a new organization gave LAAMP the adva ntages of relative autonomy an d a fresh start, but it also substantially delayed implementation of the LAAMP plan because the new organization had to spend the time to develop its own board, staff, and program. In a related decision, LAAMP's early leaders agreed with the Annenberg Foundation that LAAMP would be a metropolitan project. That is, it woul d invite participation not only from within LAUSD (which itself spans several cities in addition to Los Angeles), but also from other school districts in Los Angeles County. This m etropolitan approach to school reform was unusual for Los Angele s and, indeed, for any region in the United States. It is much more common to have school policy concentrated at the dist rict and state level; rarely do reform efforts atte mpt to work across di stricts. Doing so, ho wever, made sense to LAAMPs coalition of civic leaders because incr easing numbers of subu rban school districts all over the country face traditionally urban problems, such as poverty, low achievement, high student transience and attrition, overcr owding, and loss of coherence. An interview respondent told us: There was a core of the people whod been involved with LEARN but then there were also many people who hadnt be en who came on and, you know, made a
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 13 very high-powered, prestigious group with a reform mandate that was countyor region-wide. Now LEARN was only, only L.A. Unified School District so, you know, [LAAMPs] mand ate was broader. The new projects leadership agreed that the problems of urban schooling spanned far beyond L.A. city limits. More specifically, the leaders of suburban districts in the Los Angeles region saw that they continued to sh are many traditionally urban challenges, particularly those associated wi th great diversity, high propor tions of immigrants, and many limited or low proficiency Eng lish-speaking students. Furthermore, by working with a reform effort that spans the Los Angele s metropolitan area, di stricts might gain opportunities to learn from each others ideas and experiences. If successful, LAAMP's metropolitan focus might have importan t regional and national implications. Paradoxically, despite this embrace of ch allenges beyond the Los Angeles Unified School District, LAAMPs leaders failed to inco rporate in their plans any work with policy makers in Sacramento, the state capital. They recognized that state policy would influence their systemic reform efforts, but they made no plans to seek state support or even accommodation of th eir program. As noted below, this would have substantial implications for the ongoing evolution of the LA AMP program and its implementation. A third organizing decision made early on had equally powerful consequences. LAAMP's leaders decided to exclude repr esentatives from the local educational establishmentnamely, teacher unions and school district administrators, especially from Los Angeles Unified. Looking back, one focu s group participant explained it this way: The decision was ma de at the start in the initia l discussion, and initial press about it that the school dist ricts, and in this case L. A. Unified, would not be included in the planning process and would not have license to be invited into the room to consider the future of education in the metropol itan region. We can debate that, but I think that was a key turning point in establishing the tone and a relationship with the school district that LAAMP has lived with for better or for worse from the very start. This marked a sharp departure from the two most important reform initiatives in LAUSDs recent history: the site-based management program begun in 1989 and, more notably, the newly established LEARN project, which relied he avily on the participation of high-level union leaders and public school administrators. Instead of involving thos e actors in its civic coalition and in the agenda-setting stages of its work, LAAMP would instead engage them at the later stage of policy enactment and implementation. The LAAMP board cemented its decision to be an exclusive organization when it chose Maria Casillas over Helen Bernstein as LAAMP's executive director. Bernstein, former president of the UTLA, had been on the forefront of school re form efforts in Los Angeles and had shown great ability by leading UTLA to embrace LEARN. Her reputation as an aggressive unionist concerned some member s of the LAAMP board, which wanted to dissociate its program from teac her unions and the baggage that came with them. Others were concerned about Bernsteins close associ ation with former LEARN leader and now Mayor Richard Riordan, worried that LAAM P would be dominated by Riordan and his allies for their own purposes When Riordan proposed Bern stein as the leader of the project, he met immedi ate resistance. A LA AMP insider told us: I think it was a disservice to Helen that they tried to shove her down the throats of everybody because if they had not tried to do that, people wouldnt have . said, Wait a minute. So you know, but it wasnt that she was a unionist. . Thats not why people were sa ying No. Not Helen. It was, Why Helen and who
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 14 decided it was Helen and wh y are we going through a [selection] process if you already decided it was Helen? Alternatively, Casillas had strength s of her own as a candidate for leadership of the project. Although a former LAUSD teacher and administ rator who had served on LEARN's original community board, she had left the district and spent two ye ars as an administrator in El Paso, Texas. By hiring Ca sillas as executive director of LAAMP, the board signaled that, while LAAMP would include leaders who were so phisticated about what it would take to fully implement a systemic refo rm program, it would not be a creature of the Los Angeles Unified or Los Angeles city establishments. LAAMP's board had ties to a broad range of communities in this diverse region. Although they did include se veral leaders from the existi ng network of school reform activists, they were successful in reaching be yond it. Many board members worked hard and effectively to secure the local financial support the Annenberg Challenge required to match its initial $53 million gift, and create th e $103 million pool of resources dedicated to the project. Board members al so served as public agenda-s etters for LAAMP, explaining how the program's work could help improve the region's sc hools. But their targeted audience was the Los An geles regions public opinion and school esta blishments, and they did not focus much attention on the state ca pitol in Sacramento, where dramatic policy initiatives were unde r way that would both shape and constrain LAAMPs efforts at systemic reform. Developments in California Education Policy Throughout the time LAAMPs civic leaders were developing and carrying out their program of systemic reform, policy makers in Sacramento continued to press their own school reform agenda. As this articles dr iving hypotheses would predict, these state initiatives proved pivotal to many, if not most, of LAAMPs activities. Four sets of state policies proved especially important: testing re quirements for students and schools; class size reduction; teacher recruitment, training and retention programs ; and a broad literacy initiative. At the time LAAMP began in 1995, California had no statewi de assessment scheme. The previous program, the California Learning Assessment System (CLAS) had collapsed in political controversy in 1994 (Kirst et al 1995, chapter 2), and each district wa s allowed to pick its own assessment tool. Well after LAAMPs work was under way, Governor Pete Wilson and the legislature re established a statewi de program in 1997, the Standardized Testing And Reporting (STAR) program, built ar ound the Stanford-9 test. Governor Gray Davis subsequently convinced the legislature to dramatically incr ease the impact of that test in 1999 with the Academic Performance Inde x (API) system of publishing summary and ranked test scores for every school and district in the state. Further, a hi gh-stakes state graduation exam is scheduled to take effect with the class of 2006. Of equal importance, by the middle of 1995 the California ec onomy had begun to recover from a prolonged recession and was we ll on its way to a sustained boom As LAAMP started its operations, public schools in Los Angeles and throughout the state were still suffering from the effects of the early 1990s recession. A combination of tax limitation measures and rapid enrollment growth starting in the 1980s dropped per pupil funding for schools from approximately the national average per student to more than $1,200 below the national average by 1995. LAAMP's programs began just as the mid-1990s economic recovery started generating increased tax revenues for the stat e. By the mid 1990s, Governor Pete Wilson
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 15 and the legislature prodde d by the Proposition 98 ma ndate to spend a constant proportion of growing state tax revenues on elementary and seco ndary education were ready to spend more money on schools. But instead of sending the increases unencumbered to districts and schools, state policy makers chose to allocate the money through categorical programs. Most notable was the Class Size Reduction program begun in 1996, a program costing more than $1 billion per year whic h offered increased funding to school districts if they reduced kindergarten through third grade enrollments to 20 or fewer per classroom (Wexler et al 1998). The programand its fundingwas ex panded in 1999 to cover certain high school English and math ematics courses, but the impact on school districts was no less confining. A third major state ed ucational initia tive came in 1998, when the state legislature mandated new teacher preparation, induction and retention programs be created at the state and district levels (EdSource 2003). This was particularly necessary becaus e of the large numbers of new teaching posit ions created by the Class Si ze Reduction law. It was particularly important to poor urban districts like LAUSD, which were already suffering from shortages of qualified teachers. Those districts were particularly ha rd hit by Class Size Reduction, because that prog ram created opportunities for large numbers of experienced teachers to migrate out of the urban districts to more affluent districts and their easier working conditions. Finally, a fierce controvers y arose in 1998 over language instruction in California, particularly over existing b ilingual education programs. Mo st public atte ntion focused on the debate over Proposition 227, a ballot initia tive mandating a dramat ic reorientation of language instruction toward immediately teac hing English to non-English speakers. The following year, the legislature followed the lead of newly elected Governor Gray Davis in creating an intensive new lite racy programtargeted at bo th English speakers and nonEnglish speakersas a substantial categ orical grant to school districts. Most of these policy initiatives could be reconciled with systemic reform in Los Angeles, but all state-level fa ctors worked to LAAMP's benefi t. Throughout the course of the organization's life, Los Angeles and Califor nia were repeatedly divided by controversial ballot initiatives conc erning schools. The stage was se t in 1993 by Prop osition 174, which proposed a voucher scheme th at would have severely disr upted the funding of public education. (It failed.) The turmoil contin ued in 1994 with Proposit ion 187, a successful effort to deny a variety of publicly fund ed servicesincluding educationto illegal immigrants and their children. Although its educational provisions were later voided in court, the initiative dominated public disc ussions about schoolin g just as LAAMP was launched. Families of Schools: Policy Choice a nd the Enactment of the LAAMP Program Throughout the twists and turns of its organizational development and the turmoil of state politics, LAAMP remained accounta ble to the Annenberg Foundation under the terms of the proposal it had submitted in November of 1994 That proposal blended the expressed commitments of the Annenberg Challenge with sch ool reform ideas that had already gained broad support in Los Angeles. The core idea of the proposal was to reach beyond individual schools to establish and assist school "families," each constituted by a high school and the middle and elementary schools from which it primarily drew its students (Wohlstetter et al ., 2003). The notion of focusing assistance on families rather than
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 16 individual schools was encouraged by Gregorian, and it captured an unrealized ideal of the LEARN reforms. With LAAMP's assistance, principals and teachers and parents within these families would collaborate to develop coherent curriculum and instruction that would be integrated from kindergarten through high school grad uation. All efforts were to support LAAMPs Seven Principles (LAAMP 1994): 1. Strive to become stable learning commun ities where students are known so well that they can be helped academically an d socially no matter what their primary language. 2. Exercise productive local control over resources and decision-making. 3. Create a broad, inte llectually challengin g curriculum to which every student has access. 4. Value inclusiveness among parents and st akeholders in school decisions and activities. 5. Provide purposeful professional developm ent as an incentive to help build a stable learning community. 6. Allocate time in scho ols and Families of Schools in ways that enable teachers to get together and talk about what they ar e teaching and how they are teaching. 7. Engage in regular internal and public as sessments and discussions of student and school performance, giving the school and the public the opportunity to understand and support the school's ba sic mission to increase student achievement. LAAMP participants would also work with pa rents to guide each child up through the family system from elementary through high school. Implementation of such a complex progra m in such a complex setting was bound to be difficult, and was bound to change the shap e of the program as it went along. LAAMP encountered difficulties almost immediately, both from the Anne nberg Foundation and from the schools they h oped to assist in th e Los Angeles region. The Annenberg Foundation grew uncomfortable as LAAMP began to develop its implementation plans during the spring and summ er of 1995. Gregorian insisted that each city's Annenberg Challenge program around the country would have a coherent theory of action a specific program of school reform intended to improve student achievement. The various programs could then be evaluated and compared at the end of the five-year Challenge. But LAAMP, workin g to further develop an appr oach that had begun under SBM and LEARN, proposed instead to let each school family propose its own program of school improvement, or "family learning pl an." LAAMP would encourage each school family to write a plan that identified a core program of improvem ent, and LAAMP would then assist them in "broadening and deep ening" that program and its impact. The evaluation would then focus on the effectiv eness of LAAMP's assistance and on student achievement in the schoo ls, rather than on some specif ic LAAMP-wide program of school improvement. A LAAMP insider put it this way in an interview: The decision the board made was that we werent going to prescribe to people how they did it. What we were going to say is that any school district that was engaged in reform, a reform that embod ies our Seven Principles, we would consider supporting them in deepening and broadening thei r reform. And that was a fundamental decision by the board because we had an option of mayb e saying, This is what we want, like in New York. . almost saying this is what we thin k reform ought to be and everybody thats prepared to do this, a pply to us and we will fund it. Or we could say, Were not going to tell you how to do reform. You tell us what youre
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 17 doing and if it matches what we think will work, well fu nd it and we will take a look at it and well see what works. Sort of the difference between having a cookie cutter plan and sort of th rowing it out at I guess a market approach and saying, Who can do the best reform? The Foundation was never comp letely comfortable with this bottom-up approach, but by the end of 1995 it was willing to accept it. The disp ute helped to delay implementation of LAAMP's program for more than a year, however. Relationships were also sometimes tense between LAAMP and so me of the schools they hoped to assist. LAAMPs leaders made it clear th at any school ho ping to receive LAAMP support and assist ance must have a specific plan of action up front, and apply for admission to the program on the basis of that plan. The organizations leaders spent much of 1995 hammering out a Memorandum of Un derstanding with Los Angeles Unified about how LAAMP would work in that district, c onfirming that in LAUSD only LEARN schools each of which already had some form of Site Action Planwould participate in LAAMP. There was some disagreement about whethe r LAAMP would simply provide funding for ongoing LEARN activities, or whether LAAMP would require each LEARN school to modify their reform efforts to join a family network of LAAMP schools. As the year progressed, LAAMP began to draw criticism from the Los Angeles Times the Annenberg Foundation and others about their delay in paying out money and implementing the program in the broader metropolit an region. (Colvin and Pyle 1995) Some of this criticism originated with suburban schoo l district leaders who had th eir own contacts within the Foundation. LAAMP responded in December 1995 by soliciting proposals from families of schools throughout Lo s Angeles County. Many school districts had some difficulty with this process, illustrating the challenges that arise when systemic reform moves from elite planni ng to detailed policy choices and implementation. The LAAMP board decided against offeri ng planning grants to schools to help th em develop their proposals, fearin g that such grants would further delay the applications and siph on off money from the assistan ce program itself. A focus group participant explained: Our board decided there would be no pl anning grants. In other words, in every [participating] school district, every sc hool that could get others to join it and form a family, became eligible in the county [outside of LA USD]. In L.A. Unified, if you had a family of LEARN schools formed you automatically became eligible for these funds. . But we were concerned th at if we gave the money away without proposals of some kind . it was problematic. Many leaders in those districts were under th e impression that LAAMP was offering a firstcome, first-served assistance program, and they rushed to compile and submit proposals by the March 1996 deadline. The LAAMP sta ff soon communicated to several districts, however, that first-come woul d not necessarily mean firstserved: the quality of their proposals was insufficient to warrant their part icipation in the progra m. Only 12 school families many involving LEAR N schools in LAUSD gained approval by the end of the 1995-96 academic year. Two mo re were added shortly afterward, to round out the group of 14 "Cycle 1" families. These misunderstan dings gradually got worked out, and LAAMP eventually selected 28 families 7 more designated Cycle 2 and the final 7 designated Cycle 3, with all the families totaling 247 schools for the program by th e end of the 1996-1997 academic year.
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 18 Implementing the Evolvi ng LAAMP Program The LAAMP program began to take a cleare r form once the initial school families were identified and the LAAMP staff began wo rking on learning pl an development and actual implementation in the fa ll of 1996. Althou gh the organization remained committed to a broad program of reform described as Th e Seven Principles (the language of which continually shifted in subtle ways ), it became clear that school families could not realistically work effectively on all seven pr inciples simultaneously. Each of the families had generally done substantial work pulling th emselves together into a more or less coherent group in order to write their initial proposals. Afte r acceptance into LAAM P, they continued to develop their proposals into wo rkable family learning plans with the assistance of LAAMP staff. The time and energy needed for pl anning and development mandated that equal attention and care could not be gi ven to each of the principles. Even before the details of each family learni ng plan were set, al l school families had by the end of 1997 embraced a clear commitmen t to public engagement and reporting. At the urging of the LAAMP board, they agreed that all participatin g schools needed to communicate with their communities about what they are working on, and what kinds of problems and progress they were encountering By early 1999, this commitment was integrated into what LAAMP came to identify as Data Driven School Reform (DDSR). That is, school families regularl y collected data on multiple in dicators of sch ool and student performance to refine and improve their learning plans and impl ementation, and they regularly reported their findings to the broader community, incl uding an annual report with specific reports on test scores and other indicators of outcomes. This was a new idea at many of the LAAMP sch ools, as one insider to ld us in an interview: Once we fully understood how we could leverage . the annual report, there was an Ah-ha at the schools, then all of a sudden theyre looking at student data, and that was the hardest thing. Schools would focus on process data, you know, like We met ten times, and dah dah dah because thats what they were used to out of Title I. And we were saying, No no no, we want to see the student data. We want to see an increa se in the student data, an d how is your professional development linked to it. And then, all of a sudden, we started going out and wed go to the school family go vernance meetings and th eyre talking like this. The influence of state policy on the deve lopment of Data Driven School Reform cannot be overstated. Prior to the 1996 enactment of Standa rdized Testing and Reporting (STAR) and the 1999 creation of Academic Performance Indexes (API), schools and districts usually resisted publishing test score data, and such data played only a limited role in shaping curriculum and instruction. (See Figure 3 for chronology.) Despite LAAMPs 1995 initial commitment to Create, use, and publicize ongoing assess ments of student and school performance in order to create accountability at the school, the Family of Schools, and district levels (LAAMP 1995), it is extrem ely unlikely that they could have achieved this goal unless the publication of such data were required by the state. A second common commitment was to a li teracy program, embr aced by 23 LAAMP school families. Responding bo th to Governor Gray Davis st atewide literacy initiative and to perceived needs within thei r own schools, the schools work ed to assure that all their students could read by the end of the third gr ade, and that they continued to develop their reading and writing skills across the curriculum. In addition, several school families were funded to deepen their efforts toward one or more of LAAMPs three strategic initiative s: parent involvement, teacher training, or technology. One group of school families chose to focus its attention on involving parents
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 19 in the day-to-day activities of schools. These schools work with a variety of LAAMPrelated groups including PLP, a Weingart Foundation funded program, and the Parent Institute for Qualit y Education. A second group of four fam ilies has focused on the professional development of teachers. They became iden tified as "DELTA Families" and worked closely with the emerging DELTA Collaborative between LAAM P and teacher training programs at California State University's various campuses The urgency of th is work was clearly spurred on by the states 199 7 creation and 1999 expansio n of Class Si ze Reduction program, which brought an infl ux of emergency-credentialed teachers into Los Angeles schools, without the level of training and pr eparation expected from previous generations of teachers (Griffin, 1999). A third group of six school families targ eted the role of technology in student learning, and worked under LAAMP's collaborat ion with the Los Ange les County Office of Education's Technology for Learning program. These programs began rather late in the life cycle of LAAMP and received LAAMP funding fo r only two years, en ding in 2000. Yet they carried out substantial work training teache rs in the use of instru ctional technology and in integrate that technology into th eir teaching and curriculum (Friedman et al 2000). By the middle of 1997, LAAMP as an orga nization had homed in on two driving commitments. One was that LAAMP should focus on student results: families and schools moving toward curriculum, in struction and professional deve lopment that demonstrably improved individual student achievement according to standardiz ed tests and other measures. This assessment and accountability agenda was cemented in place by the LAAMP boards commitment to outreach and publ ic "reporting." As articulated in one of the organization's quarterly reports, the board agreed that there "is a continuing need to restore confidence in public education by iden tifying reform measures that are taking hold," and they wanted to "deepen commitment to the role of holding public education accountable to the public for improving stud ent achievement" (LAAMP, 1997). Thus all LAAMP family schools wo uld be involved with public repo rting at all levels, from making information available to parents and commu nity members at individual schools to sponsoring glitzy high-profile annual "reporting events." This was cons istent with LAAMPs longer term aspirations to leave a l egacy of systemic ch ange in performance and expectations of local schools even after the five-year program had ended. LAAMPs first annual reporting event, held at the Burbank Airport Hilton in November 1997, set the pattern for future even ts. Stakeholders created presentations that reviewed learning plans, budgets, survey results, an d other indicators. The day-long event included overview presentations on the An nenberg Challenge and LAAMP, but it also included specific presentations by each participating school family. Teachers, parents, community members, and even some students made presentations on their experiences with LAAMP. They were encouraged to explain the difference that implementing school family learning plans were making in student achiev ement and to support their presentations with data. The final LAAMP reporting event in O ctober of 2000 continued in this pattern (LAAMP, 2000). Each school family presen ted extensive informat ion and data as the project neared completion. Such public events, although not necessarily as upscale as the annual reporting events, are part of a new dy namic in Los Angeles school re form, reinforced by state mandates to report test scores. Stakeholde rs nevertheless remain ambivalent about such events. On one hand, the events raise the visi bility of school reform before the media and the general public, and they he lp to improve the pu blic conversation about schools. They provide real information abou t schools rather than the st andard fare of rumors and
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 20 stereotypes. One crucial purpose of LAAMP wa s to help prepare sch ool leaders for that level of exposure, which was something new. As a LAAMP insider reported to us in an interview, You go back to the real basic stuff, first of all. I think a lot of these folks that are out there, cluster le aders and principals and others are real bureaucrats. I mean, they dont want to accept that they are, but they are. They are driven by the pink memorandum and the yellow memorand um and the culture of Do the right thing for whomever is evaluating you. An d because studen t performance is at such low levels and because you kn ow have the technology that can just make it more public, in an accountability system like that you know today its in the [news]paper. And its their school compared to schools like yours. You cant shelter yourself from that information. What we have is the ability to co me in from the outside as partners. And were not evaluating them. We are simply trying to inspire them, provide them with good informatio n to help them do their job. That is a genuine challenge, because school family part icipants reported spending a tremendous amount of time and energy on preparing for the events, which in and of themselves did little to improve their schoo ls and in some ways created school-level resistance to the ongoi ng implementation of the program. The public dynamics of the events with their pressure to find and de liver short-term good news may in some ways have undercut the purposes of data-drive n reform, which is a slow process of trial and error. Reporting results became so charged that these public events faced the danger of becoming more important th an the ability of schools to learn from the data. The Aftermath: Transi tion and Scale-up By the start of the 1998 school year, all LAAMP fami lies were up and running and the organization had established a rela tively stable program. The Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Pr oject had, albeit wi th a number of delays and with several modifications of its initial ex pectations, successfully naviga ted the process from agenda setting to policy formation to program implementation. Their program of systemic reform would be completely in plac e for two full years before the Annenber g Foundations $53 million and a similar sum from local grants and contracts wo uld run its five-year course. The board and staff in 1998 be gan to turn their attention to two related issues. The most immediate concern was with continui ty. LAAMP was chartered as a five-year program, and needed to turn its attention to continuing the pr ograms beyond 2001. LAAMP achieved several successes in this regard. It transferred the Preparing Tomorrows Teachers to use Technol ogy (PTTT) program, a multiyear project funded in 1999 by a $1.48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to the private Los Angeles Educational Partnership (L AEP). LAAMP also fostered the formation of new organizations and the continua tion of others. The LAAMP bo ard supported, and financed with a $1 million grant, the creation of the Los Angeles County Alliance for Student Achievement, a civic leadership organization that drew participants and staff from the former LEARN and LAAMP projects, though that organization dwindled within two years. LAAMP board and staff members were also instru mental in founding Families in Schools, a non-profit organization to continue and streng then parent involvement. Finally, LAAMP transferred control of the DELTA program initia tive has been transfer red to LAEP, after it had been strengthened with additional grants.
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 21 These continuities ne vertheless revealed that the apparent success of LAAMPs design and implementation were less than system ic. LAAMPs family network approach to school improvement required a substantial inve stment of outside reso urces and assistance into each school familys deve lopment and implementation of a plan tailored to their particular needs. Indeed, many of these pl ans benefited from collaboration with other school families, even across school district lines. Yet their surv ival required ongoing grants and support from various government and phil anthropic organizations, support that by its very nature will never be provided systemwide. To put the LAAMP program in perspective, the $103 million ra ised and spent by the program in its five years is nearly trivial in Los Angeles County, where mo re than $13 billion is spent each year on K-12 education. LAAMPs resources were targeted for maximum leverage, and the project never ran out of cash, but the requireme nts for continuity are daunting. This raises the second concern of the LAAMP staff in 1998 as they began to look in a more focused way at the future: they worried about the problem of scale, or "scaling up" in educational jargon. How could the lessons learned through LAAMP be shared beyond the LAAMP families to influence the broader development of school reform throughout the Los Angeles metropolitan region? The An nenberg model was to create concentrated and visible programs of innovation and improvement in selected cities and regions, in order to provoke broader emulation and improvement across the country, or at least across the metropolitan areas where the programs were carr ied out. But the extensive (and expensive) organizing and programmatic work required for even the twenty-eight LAAMP school families proved daunting. Even if the pr ogram had gained widespread attention and admiration in the Los Angeles region and th ere is no evidence that it did the LEARN experience suggested that scaling up would run the risk of diluting LAAMP's efforts and reducing the effectiven ess of its program. This challenge was complicated further by the indeterminate im pact of the LAAMP project. Researchers including the present au thor gathered and anal yzed extensive data throughout the five-year prog ram and found mixed results. On one hand, LAAMP as an organization was found to have a substantia l impact on the public debate over school quality and reform in th e region. The project strengthened and continued the civic coalition that supports public school reform in the Los Angeles region; it star ted school families, a powerful and potentially lasting innovation in how sc hool districts are organized; and it helped focus attention on student outcomes as the legitimate measure of reform (Kerchner, Abbott, Ganley & Menefee-Libey, 2001). In-dep th research into the workings of school families also revealed a powerful tool for br inging coherence and effectiveness to teaching and learning (Wohlstetter Smith, Stuart & Griffin, 1999 ). Researchers were, however, unable to detect a significan t impact on student achievement during LAAMPs brief period of full implementation (Baker & Herman, 2002). III. Conclusions and Implications What conclusions can we draw about system ic reform from this case? In the simplest terms, the LAAMP case confirms the hy potheses develope d earlier in this article. First, LAAMPs experienced and politically sophis ticated civic coalition leaders were able to master the challenges of shepherding their reform through agenda setting to program enactment and policy implementation. Their rela tive success is completely consistent with research on policy design and implementation in genera l. In particular, they had sufficient organizational capacity and resources to crea te meaningful incentives for stakeholders to
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 22 join in (Goggin et al 1990). They also blended clear and explicit top-down principles and mandates with a flexib le process of bottom-up design and implementation (Elmore 1982). By their own standards, however, the work of LAAMPs civic coalition leaders fell short. Their expressed intention was not simp ly to create an eff ective program for 28 families of schools. They proposed systemic reform, a program whic h would create a ripple effect throughout the public education system in the Los Angeles region, from the school boards down into the classrooms. They intended that other schools and districts emulate their actions and embrace their decentralize d approach to school change and improved student achievement. This is the very definition of systemic reform. They also intended that their program would become self-sustaini ng, that schools and school districts would continue the family-based pr actices of school improvement initiated by LAAMP and assisted by public and privat e sector organizations. Thou gh many of the particular initiatives and programs of LA AMP continue, the systemic aspirations so visible at the beginning are now gone. This case also confirms th e second hypothesis presented at the outset: that systemic reform must be aligned with st ate policy in order to survive and succeed. LAAMP proved adept at adapting to many state initiatives: Standardized Testing And Reporting (1996) and its successor, the Academic Performance Index (1999), Class Size Reduction (1996 and 1999), teacher recruitment and profession al development progra ms (1998 and 1999), Governor Davis statewide li teracy programs (1999). In deed, LAAMPs development of Data Driven Reform built on and extended statewide testing and reporting programs in ways that lawmakers in Sacramento could only ha ve hoped for. In many cases, adapting to state mandates also meant that families of schools could use state categorical money to reinforce their own local initiatives. Still, one of the cent erpieces of LAAMP school families will in the longer term suffer from being co mpletely ignored by state policy ma kers. LAAMP crea ted a potentially powerful reform in school famili es. It will take s ustained support and de velopment if they are to continue, however. School families are a much more radical departure from conventional school bureaucracies than they appear on the surface. Both in Los Angeles and in the surrounding school districts that created school families, the family structure created information pathways and coordination that was so mewhat independent of the school hierarchy and that someti mes threatened it. School fam ilies were not subdivisions of districts in which the leadership was given author ity over the principals and teachers within. Instead, they resembled networ ks or collaboratives to which people attached themselves because they provided usefu l services, information, and support (Wohlstetter et al 2003). These networks will not be na turally self-sustaining. Th ey are threatened both by burnout and by bureaucratization. Althou gh the school superintendents we have interviewed tell us that they intend to keep and strengthen school families, these organizations require resources. One of LAAM P's tactical lessons ha s been that funding a family coordinator positi on was nearly essential to creating a robust netwo rk of schools. As the LAAMP program and the resources that ac companied it dwindle away, it would be surprising to see school families survive as a feature of school reform in the Los Angeles region. Perhaps the best opportunity for school reformers in Southern California to gain policy support for school families and other networks of teache rs and parents will come as the state's new high school exit examinati onyet another sweeping state mandatecomes into full force. All school districts have become acutely aware that student success on the high school exam requires th at schools and educators conn ect across the traditional boundaries between elementary and secondary schools. This connection was one of the
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 23 original LAAMP goals, and, as we have seen, LAAMP families en courage connections the sharing of teaching stra tegies and the communication of vital information about students. The example of school famili es illustrates the broader po int that this case study confirms: the autonomy of local systemic reform efforts in American cities is an illusion. The state is now the mo st powerful policy agent in Califor nias K-12 educati on system, just as it is throughout most of the United St ates. The various polic y making systems of elementary and secondary education in the United States may be terribly complex in practice, but this theoretical point is relati vely simple. A local reform program cannot succeed without being aligned with state policy, or at least with th e acquiescence of state policy makers.
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Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 28 Wohlstetter, Priscilla., A. K. Smith, T. Stewart & N. Griffin. (1999). Team Work in LAAMP School Families: Building Capacity for Reform Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Compact on Evaluation. Wohlstetter, Priscilla, Malloy, Courtney, Ch au, Derrick & Polhemus, Jennifer. (2003, September). Improving Sc hools Through Networks: A New Approach to Urban School Reform. Educational Policy 17, pp. 319-430. About the author David Menefee-Libey Politics Department Pomona College 425 North College Avenue Claremont CA 91711 909-607-9323 DMenefee@Pomona.edu David Menefee-Libey is Professor of Politic s and Director of the Program in Public Policy Analysis at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He is also the Director of SCCORE.org, the Southern California Consor tium on Research in Education, which publishes an annual online report on The Conditions of Educatio n in the Los Angeles Region Email: DJML4747@pomona.edu
Menefee-Libey: Systemic Reform in a Federated System 29 Education Policy Analysis Archives http:// epaa.asu.edu Editor: Gene V Glass, Arizona State University Production Assistant: Chris Mu rrell, Arizona State University General questions about appropriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, email@example.com or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: firstname.lastname@example.org. EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman Arizona State Univeristy Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute of Technology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Berkeley Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of IllinoisUC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British Columbia
Education Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 12 No. 60 30Archivos Analticos de Polticas Educativas Associate Editors Gustavo E. Fischman & Pablo Gentili Arizona State University & Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro Founding Associate Editor for Spanish Language (1998) Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Editorial Board Hugo Aboites Universidad Autnoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco Adrin Acosta Universidad de Guadalajara Mxico Claudio Almonacid Avila Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educacin, Chile Dalila Andrade de Oliveira Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brasil Alejandra Birgin Ministerio de Educacin, Argentina Teresa Bracho Centro de Investigacin y Docencia Econmica-CIDE Alejandro Canales Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Ursula Casanova Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona Sigfredo Chiroque Instituto de Pedagoga Popular, Per Erwin Epstein Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois Mariano Fernndez Enguita Universidad de Salamanca. Espaa Gaudncio Frigotto Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Rollin Kent Universidad Autnoma de Puebla. Puebla, Mxico Walter Kohan Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Roberto Leher Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Daniel C. Levy University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, New York Nilma Limo Gomes Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte Pia Lindquist Wong California State University, Sacramento, California Mara Loreto Egaa Programa Interdisciplinario de Investigacin en Educacin, Chile Mariano Narodowski Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina Iolanda de Oliveira Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brasil Grover Pango Foro Latinoamericano de Polticas Educativas, Per Vanilda Paiva Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil Miguel Pereira Catedratico Universidad de Granada, Espaa Angel Ignacio Prez Gmez Universidad de Mlaga Mnica Pini Universidad Nacional de San Martin, Argentina Romualdo Portella do Oliveira Universidade de So Paulo Diana Rhoten Social Science Research Council, New York, New York Jos Gimeno Sacristn Universidad de Valencia, Espaa Daniel Schugurensky Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada Susan Street Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social Occidente, Guadalajara, Mxico Nelly P. Stromquist University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California Daniel Suarez Laboratorio de Politicas Publicas-Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina Antonio Teodoro Universidade Lusfona Lisboa, Carlos A. Torres University of California, Los Angeles Jurjo Torres Santom Universidad de la Corua, Espaa Lilian do Valle Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil