Building off their May 2011 conference of the same name,
this volume, edited by American Enterprise Institute scholars Rick Hess and
Andrew Kelly, offers a one-stop-shop for expert views on the federal role in
education over the past fifty years. The book (which includes a chapter from
our own Chester Finn) tackles topics ranging from federal efforts at promoting
equity to the courts’ role in education. While the tome doesn't much aim to
resolve the debate about the federal role, it does inject this timely issue
with a healthy dose of perspective, offering a nuanced picture of the feds'
capabilities. Particularly relevant, the chapter on the feds’ role in research
(which has emerged
as a hot topic in recent months)—written by Jane Hannaway and Mark
Schneider—offers a keen take on how the feds have tried to balance rigor,
relevance, and politics as they pursue education research. Similarly compelling
is the chapter on Uncle Sam’s investment in innovation, where discussions of
RTTT and i3 feature prominently. Despite the book’s historic grounding, the
content is in no way stale. Quite the contrary, the writing is fresh and
informed—and marks an essential read for any eduwonk wishing to engage more
productively in this timely conversation.
Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly, ed. Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit:
Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America's Schools
(Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011).