The basic structure of the U.S. education system has for decades stymied efforts to improve student learning beyond marginal gains, according to a series of reports from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Center for American Progress.
The reports call for rethinking the country’s system of K-12 governance—including per-pupil funding, school boards, school districts, tests, and mayoral control—with the goal of promoting “more profound” education reform.
“Local control should be reinterpreted as vesting control in schools rather than districts, much like charter schools give people a choice among schools,” said Chester Finn Jr., Fordham’s president.
School boards, for example, govern the vast majority of public schools but are often elected at unusual times and usually only by those who have a great interest in their composition, Finn said. This undermines local control in education, giving priority to adult interests such as custodial and teacher unions.
“The theory sounds right, but the practice doesn’t keep up with it,” he said.
“Rethinking Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century,” series from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. December 1, 2011: http://www.edexcellence.net/publications-issues/publications/rethinking-education.html
“Chester Finn Jr: Eliminate School Districts?” School Reform News podcast, October 19, 2011: http://heartland.org/podcasts/2011/10/19/chester-finn-jr-eliminate-school-districts
Image by Karen Apricot.