Contents | January/Feburary 2003

James P. Pinkerton: Further reading for "A Grand Compromise"
"Rising tide of mediocrity"—probably the most famous line in American education reform history—comes from "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform," a landmark report commissioned in the early 1980s by the Department of Education and memorable for its many war metaphors:
(To get directly to the good parts, link here:

The report opens with an unflattering summing up of American students' educational performance in international context. To see the results of more recent international standardized tests, click here:
(for the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment), or here:
(for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study)

For state-by-state student achievement (the results from the Department of Education"s National Assessment of Educational Performance), click here:,,

The composite scores used in the chart can be found by adding together the most recent fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores for each state.

For the school finance data used in the piece click here:

Select Table 11 to see state data, Table 17 to see district data. Selected books and papers on school finance: "Developments in School Finance: Does Money Matter?," National Center on Education Statistics, US Department of Education:

This collection of papers effectively overturned the "money doesn"t matter" thesis. See especially: "Does Money Matter for Minority and Disadvantaged Students? Assessing the New Empirical Evidence," by David Grissmer, Ann Flanagan, and Stephanie Williamson:

Does Money Matter? An Empirical Study Introducing Resource Costs and Student Needs to Educational Production Function Analysis, by Corrine Taylor:

Of course, whether or not money matters depends on how you spend it. See also: Making Money Matter: Financing America's Schools, Helen Ladd and Janet Hansen, eds. National Academy Press, 1999. Linked here:

For an account of why and how the federal government should play an increased role in public school finance, see: Passing the Test: The National Interest in Good Schools for All, Michael Calabrese, ed., especially chapters 6 and 7:

Selected books and papers on school choice: See Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Jay Greene's publications page:

See also the school choice section of the Cato Institute Web site:

For a clearinghouse on school choice research and writing, go to:

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