Paul Manna

Chair of Department of Government, Isabelle and Jerome E. Hyman Distinguished University Professor of Government, and Faculty Affiliate of Public Policy, College of William and Mary
Chapter Member: Virginia SSN
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About Paul

Manna’s research and teaching explore policy implementation, federalism, bureaucracy, and applied research methods. His main focus is K-12 education. In this broad area he has published work on federal initiatives, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Race to the Top program, state standards and student performance, school choice, and education governance. He has informed contemporary policy debates by briefing federal, state, and local education officials about these matters, and by working on projects with think tanks from across the political spectrum, such as the Center for American Progress, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center on Education Policy.


Can New Forms of Governance Improve America's Schools?

In the News

"The Three Rs of Obama’s Education Reform," Paul Manna, America's Quarterly, Fall 2010.
"Redefining the Federal Role in Education: Advice for the Winner of Next Week’s Election," Paul Manna (with Keenan Kelley), Education Week, October 30, 2012.
"Time Warp on Teacher Evaluation," Paul Manna, Rick Hess Straight Up Blog, Education Week, June 25, 2010.
"States to the Races," Paul Manna, Rick Hess Straight up Blog, Education Week, June 23, 2010.
"Teacher Voice and Race to the Top," Paul Manna, Rick Hess Straight Up Blog, Education Week, June 21, 2010.


"Centralized Governance and Student Outcomes: Excellence, Equity, and Academic Achievement in the U.S. States" Policy Studies Journal 41, no. 4 (2013): 683-706.

Considers the potential effects of political, administrative, and fiscal centralization on student outcomes. Finds that strong relationships exist between student outcomes and the degree of political and administrative centralization in a state, and also discovers that the degree of centralization is not consistently related to the advancement of excellence and equity, suggesting that apparent trade-offs may exist.

Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform (with Patrick McGuinn) (Brookings, with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Center for American Progress, 2013).
Brings together a diverse group of scholars, policy practitioners, and advocates to explore how the institutions that govern America’s schools influence the content of policy and the daily work of principals, teachers, and students. Offers historical perspectives on governance, examines current trends that break with past history, and lays out potential proposals for improving governance in the future. Here’s a video overview from the book’s release event.
"Governance and Educational Expectations in the U.S. States" (with Timothy Harwood). State Politics and Policy Quarterly 11, no. 4 (2011): 483-509.
Analyzes the relationship between U.S. state governance and policies designed to increase expectations for students and teachers. Finds that state policies imposing higher demands on local school districts are more likely to be present in states with more centralized control of education, and that states with Republican control are more likely to favor policies that push power to lower levels of government.
"Competitive Grants and Educational Federalism: President Obama’s Race to the Top Program in Theory and Practice" (with Laura L. Ryan). Publius: The Journal of Federalism 41, no. 3 (2011): 522-546.
Considers the development of a signature education program of the Obama administration by analyzing the factors that influenced state decisions to apply for Race to the Top funds and the factors that influenced the competition’s outcome. Concludes by exploring the implications of expanding the use of competitive grant programs.
Collision Course: Federal Education Policy Meets State and Local Realities (CQ Press, 2011).
Examines the development and implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in federal, state, and local contexts. Concludes that difficulties arise when the assumptions of government accountability systems are misaligned with the environments in which they operate. Here’s a brief author interview about the book.
School’s In: Federalism and the National Education Agenda (Georgetown University Press, 2006).
Draws on diverse sources of evidence and methods to examine the rise of education as an issue of major concern in the United States. Focuses on the period 1950 to 2001 and explains that dynamic interactions between federal and state policymakers, rather than simply federal assertiveness, have led to education assuming a more preeminent place on the nation’s agenda.