Book • February 2011 • By Tim McDonald

A strategy for making public schooling more productive, effective, and affordable.

Cover of Unsustainable

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  • “This book’s … major contribution is a set of new and nontraditional policy ideas. They should get broad and serious attention.”

    Ted Kolderie, from the foreword

  • “In New York we are running the kind of split screen McDonald describes in this book. It is working for innovation, and we are strengthening it.”

    Eric Nadelstern, Chief Schools Officer, NYC Department of Education

  • “McDonald recognizes the central importance of innovation in the design of schools and how to combine the best of emerging technologies with time-honored teaching traditions. The right policies are critical to the design of our education systems for the 21st century.”

    Ron Johnson, Senior Vice President, Apple Inc.

  • More endorsements…

One effect of the federal stimulus funding for K-12 has been to create an impression that schools are suffering today because of the economic downturn. This is true. But the downturn is not the sole reason for their financial pains…nor is it the principal reason.

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For decades local, state, and federal governments have increased spending to match education expenditures that regularly outpaced economic growth. In recent years this has become less possible, compelled by the economic contraction of the Great Recession and now perpetuated by growing claims from other important public services such as health care and social security.

With schools experiencing the ‘structural imbalance’ of costs rising faster than growth in revenue, a balanced budget one year becomes a deficit the next. The perennial practice of raising spending and cutting school services is not a function of being under resourced, but instead a symptom of cost inflation that the system must evolve to respond to.

In a new book released this month by Rowman & Littlefield publishers Education|Evolving associate Tim McDonald frames the problem of cost and effectiveness in America’s public schooling system, and provides a strategy to address it.

In UNSUSTAINABLE: A Strategy for Making Public Schooling More Productive, Effective, and Affordable McDonald asserts that the nation’s K-12 schooling system is not financially sustainable and—without improvements in performance—is becoming a poorer value each year that goes by. He argues for improving the cost and effectiveness of public schooling through a systemic strategy of fostering innovation to improve productivity.

The book provides timely and creative policy recommendations to local, state, and federal leaders; and outlines uncommon strategies for overcoming some of the most common roadblocks to improvement.

Timely and well-argued, McDonald’s focus on EE’s approach of rethinking the structure and incentives of school systems make it essential reading for those in public and private life that recognize the central role of strategy to accomplish the aspirations of American public education.

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