Vinovskis, Maris A.

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Vinovskis, Maris A.

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Home—13 Westbury Court, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. Office—c/o University of Michigan, Department of History, 1029 Tisch Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Historian, educator, author, and consultant. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, currently professor of history and senior research scientist at Center for Political Studies in the Institute for Social Research. U.S. House Select Committee on Population, Washington, D.C., deputy staff director, 1978; Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Washington, DC, research advisory to assistant secretary, 1992–93; U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, member of independent review panel.

MEMBER: Federal Even Start (evaluation board member), History of Education Society (president), National Academy of Education.

AWARDS, HONORS: Guggenheim fellow.


Demographic History and the World Population Crisis, Clark University Press (Worcester, MA), 1976.

(With Carl F. Kaestle) Education and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1980.

Fertility in Massachusetts from the Revolution to the Civil War, Academic Press (New York, NY), 1981.

The Origins of Public High Schools: A Reexamination of the Beverly High School Controversy, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 1985.

An "Epidemic" of Adolescent Pregnancy? Some Historical and Policy Considerations, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1988.

(With Gerald F. Moran) Religion, Family, and the Life Course: Explorations in the Social History of Early America, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1992.

Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity: A Historical Perspective on Persistent Issues, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1995.

Changing Federal Strategies for Supporting Educational Research, Development, and Statistics, National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board (Washington, DC), 1998.

History and Educational Policymaking, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1999.

Revitalizing Federal Education Research and Development: Improving the R and D Centers, Regional Educational Laboratories, and the "New" OERI, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2001.


(Editor, with Roger Revelle and Ashok Khosla) The Survival Equation: Man, Resources, and His Environment, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1971.

(Editor, with Tamara K. Hareven) Family and Population in Nineteenth-Century America, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1978.

(Editor) Studies in American Historical Demography, Academic Press (New York, NY), 1979.

(Editor, with Carl E. Schneider) The Law and Politics of Abortion, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1980.

(Editor) Toward a Social History of the American Civil War: Exploratory Essays, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Diane Ravitch) Learning from the Past: What History Teaches Us about School Reform, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1995.

(Editor, with David L. Featherman) Social Science and Policy-making: A Search for Relevance in the Twentieth Century, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2001.

Author of numerous academic papers and contributor to such periodicals as American Demographics, Daedalus, and USA Today.

SIDELIGHTS: Educator and author Maris A. Vinovskis is an expert in the history of American educational policy and its effects on child development. In his numerous books and articles, he shares his research and insights into the policies that affect American children from the perspective of an educator and governmental consultant.

In Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity: A Historical Perspective on Persistent Issues Vinovskis collects essays and articles that address the development of U.S. schools since the early nineteenth century, tracing the increase in attendance and the gradual growth of the public school system, as well as the rise of social support for these schools. He also examines the infant-school movement that took place in Massachusetts from 1826 to 1840, which could be considered a precursor to modern nursery schools and Head Start programs. Reviewing the book for the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Lee Soltow noted that Vinovskis "asks whether the movement toward education has strengthened or weakened economic or general inequality in America." Journal of Social History reviewer Stephen Lassonde found that the book leaves many questions unanswered, stating that "Vinovskis is above all a critic; yet he is the kindliest of critics and lavish in acknowledging his debt to those who have preceded him in asking the questions that claim his attention. By the same token … his innate circumspection seems to limit the interpretive mileage he gets out of his research."

With History and Educational Policymaking Vinovskis points out the U.S. government's consistent failure to take past educational policy attempts into account when moving forward with new ideas. John L. Rury, writing for the American Journal of Education, noted that in this book "Vinovskis considers the absence of historical perspective in formulating educational policy, particularly at the federal level. In doing this, he points to the possibility that history could be quite useful in the development of new policies." Vinovskis highlights the problems potentially faced due to a refusal to keep history in mind, and explores the reasons why policy makers have ceased to rely on historians for input. Meredith Phillips, in a review for Contemporary Sociology, called the book "ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying," going on to state that "Vinovskis tempts us by suggesting that [he] … will illustrate the value of a historical perspective in understanding and improving policy making…. On the whole, however, the book leaves us struggling to draw coherent lessons from … largely disjointed and unevenly researched chapters." However, Vinovskis does address a number of important points. James B. Williams, writing for Perspectives on Political Science, stated that History and Educational Policymaking "is valuable more for its insights—on the policy process and the use, nonuse, and abuse of research by policymakers—than for its conclusions. It should be read and taken to heart by policymakers, researchers, education faculty, and school administrators."



American Historical Review, June, 1989, Susan Kellog, review of An "Epidemic" of Adolescent Pregnancy? Some Historical and Policy Considerations, p. 870.

American Journal of Education, August, 1999, John L. Rury, "Historians and Policy Making," p. 321.

Contemporary Sociology, July, 2000, Meredith Phillips, review of History and Educational Policymaking, p. 633.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, spring, 1997, Lee Soltow, review of Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity: A Historical Perspective on Persistent Issues, p. 724.

Journal of Social History, winter, 1996, Stephen Lassonde, review of Education, Society, and Economic Opportunity, p. 563.

Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 2001, James B. Williams, review of History and Educational Policymaking, p. 173.

USA Today, August 2003, "'A Nation at Risk' Spurs Two Decades of Failure," p. 1.


University of Michigan Web site, (July 26, 2004), "Maris A. Vinovskis."

U.S. Department of Education Home Page, (July 26, 2004), "Maris A. Vinovskis."