This volume and the conference that gave rise to the chapters reported herein was conceived as a vehicle for bringing together this new generation of economists for the purpose of showcasing their work and facilitating an exploration of the implications for practice. In so doing we were conscious of the divide that can exist between the world of economics and educational finance, and the world of policymaking. We noted with interest the recent Education Week feature on the important but largely unappreciated role that economics is playing in the development of educational policy. Martin Car-noy's comment that "Educators ... look at economists as dangerous people who don't know schools..."(Education Week, October 25, 2000, page 44) has special relevance to what we are seeking to accomplish here. The authors received strict instructions to think of policymakers at local, state, and national levels as the intended audience for their chapters. The goal here is not merely to produce work that could also appear in scholarly journals, but rather to reach out and explain and interpret the latest and most promising research on the economics of education for policymakers who must make difficult choices about where and how resources need to be allocated. We are pleased with how each author rose to the challenge of the task. The chapters deal with timely topics and provide overviews, critiques, and findings that are rich in implications for how we can strengthen our schools. The overarching focus is on productivity and the efficiency of K-12 schooling systems, and the authors approach the topic in a number of different ways.