Driven by multiple authoritative non-partisan and bipartisan ‘Nation at Risk’ declarations, the federal government and all fifty states have been pursuing school reform; trying to productively change schools without tackling controversial school system reform. . . .  Each attempt at change, without fundamental change, is a desperate attempt to deny/pretend that ‘the system’ isn’t the problem; hope triumphing over experience, again or still.  That’s why we’re stuck at ‘Nation at Risk’ performance levels despite frenzied activity and massive funding growth.  We keep adding gold to a “gold-plated disaster!”

“lays out the big picture issue the best I have seen”

Hon. Rep Kent Grusendorf,

Texas Legislator, 1987-2006

Education Committee Chair,


Merrifield’s thorough but accessible analysis of both what’s wrong and what can be done, is a must read for economists and non-economists alike.  Although the USA is his main focus of analysis, Merrifield’s insights and recommendations for action are applicable and relevant for education policy thinkers across the world.

Deani Van Pelt, Former Director

Fraser Institute’s Barbara Mitchell

Center for Improvement in Education

This is a thorough and deep analysis of school reform.  Moreover, it injects a breadth of fresh air into the discussion with its careful attention to economic fundamentals – e.g., incentives, competition, and specialization – that is sorely lacking in many other treatments of school reform.  An excellent and informative read.

John Garen,

Economics Professor

University of Kentucky

“Comprehensive, rigorous, principled and spot-on analysis.   You really cut through so much garbage to get at the essential points.  I will be quoting from it extensively.”

Lance Izumi,

Koret Senior Fellow and Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy

“provides fresh insight that will challenge your core assumptions about how U.S. education systems should operate.”

Aaron Garth Smith,

Education Policy Analyst,

Reason Foundation