The Political Dynamics of American Education - Fourth Edition


Michael W. Kirst


Frederick M. Wirt

Year of Publication: 
McCutchan Publishing Corporation
393 pages

This new edition of The Political Dynamics of American Education is a major revision of the most widely used text in the politics of education. The authors have devised an original conceptual framework to organize and chart the increasingly complex political web of American education. These competing forces of challenge and steady state now affect all levels of policymaking and administration. Combined, these conflicting forces constitute the “dynamic” nature of American education.

The fourth edition of The Political Dynamics of American Education places more emphasis on school choice, reflecting the political conflict and stress evident in recent reform challenges. The authors expand both on the current increase in local political activity and on the external context of local schools to analyze the political momentum behind education standards. At the same time, the limits of both deregulation and centralized strategies are stressed as academic standards policies confront complex local politics.

The most contemporary issues are treated: the 2008 election, politics of charter schools, mayoral control, and the evolutionary politics of NCLB. Each chapter covers the latest school politics research and reviews new “political” research dimensions and the current state of education politics scholarship.

This text is designed in part for practitioners involved in education—administrators, teachers, state officials, and lay groups. It will also be valuable to scholars of educational administration, political science, and sociology because of its comprehensive framework and extensive synthesis of current research.


Frederick M. Wirt is Emeritus Professor of political science at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He has been editor of the Politics of Education series for Lexington Books and on the editorial board of several political science journals. He has recently written extensively on the changing administrative role here and abroad, the role of culture in state role here and abroad, the role of culture in state school policy decisions, and the new political context for superintendents. He has been visiting professor at the University of Melbourne and academic visitor at the London School of Economics.

Michael W. Kirst is Emeritus Professor of education at Stanford University and was president of the California State Board of Education. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and a former vice-president of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Kirst is co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), which analyzes current state policy issues. Former staff director of the U.S. Senate Subcommission on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty, he has also held several major positions in the U.S. Office of Education. He has been chief consultant on school finance reform for several state legislatures, including Florida and Oregon. Dr. Kirst was twice elected Chairman of the Politics of Education, Special Interest Group in Politics of Education. He is editor for the McCutchan series in educational administration and policy analysis

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APA Citation

Kirst, M.W., & Wirt, F.M. (2009). The Political Dynamics of American Education - Fourth Edition. (pp. 393 pages). McCutchan Publishing Corporation.