Why Government Governs Its Schools Wrong (And How to Fix It)

For two generations, “accountability” has been the rallying cry of the education reform movement. Tensions are now increasing in the movement between advocates of decentralized, choice-based accountability and advocates of centralized, test-based accountability. However, those are not the only two ways to hold schools accountable. The movement should also take a hard look at governance reform.

Governance reform means changing the system’s internal decision-making and authority structures. Parental choices and academic standards enforced by tests are both ways of placing external pressure on the system to perform. We can also do a lot of good by changing the shape of the system’s own workings. School board elections, building-level autonomy, principal training, transparency measures, and breaking up our bloated school district system are all places where there is potential improvement.

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