Desperate to jump-start the reform process in America's urban schools, politicians, scholars, and school advocates are looking increasingly to mayors for leadership. But does a stronger mayoral role represent bold institutional change with real potential to improve big-city schools, or just the latest in the copycat world of school reform du jour? Is it democratic? Why have efforts to put mayors in charge so often generated resistance along racial dividing lines? Public debate and scholarly analysis have shied away from confronting such issues head-on. Mayors in the Middle brings together, for students of education policy and urban politics as well as scholars and school advocates, the most thoughtful and original analyses of the promise and limitations of mayoral takeovers of schools. Reflecting on the experience of six cities--Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.--ten of the nation's leading experts on education politics tackle the question of whether putting mayors in charge is a step in the right direction. Through the case studies and the wide-ranging essays that follow and build upon them, the contributors--Stefanie Chambers, Jeffrey R. Henig, Kenneth J. Meier, Jeffrey Mirel, Marion Orr, John Portz, Wilbur C. Rich, Dorothy Shipps, and Clarence N. Stone--begin the process of answering questions critical to the future of inner-city children, the prospects for urban revitalization, and the shape of American education in the years to come.
Jeffrey R. Henig is Professor of Political Science and Education at Teachers College and Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. His books include The Color of School Reform (Princeton), named by the American Political Science Association in 2000 as the best book published in urban politics, and Rethinking School Choice (Princeton). Wilbur C. Rich is Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. His books include Black Mayors and School Politics .