Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Get Mayors in the Schooling Game

Andy Rotherham and David Harris with a spot-on piece about giving mayors more control over schools, esp. the authority to grant charters.  In NY, not giving Bloomberg and Klein 50 charters was perhaps the worst concession that had to be made to get the cap lifted...

Act Locally SF | Article | March 29, 2007

Get Mayors in the Schooling Game

By David Harris and Andrew J. Rotherham



Ask any Mayor what his or her top priority is for the long term health of his or her city, and much more often than not they will say improving the quality of public schools. Mayors understand that a city cannot thrive with broken or even sub-par public schools. In too many of the nation's urban areas students have a less than 50-50 chance of even finishing high school and educational achievement in the nation's great cities remains far too low.


Yet despite the centrality of public schools to a city's civic health, few mayors have any formal statutory authority over the public schools located in their city, as school systems in most states are run by independent local school boards. It is a paradox that vexes many mayors.


Mayors determined to reform education must either find ways of supporting school districts or take them over. Efforts to support school districts include building relationships with superintendents, advocating for resources, and publicizing successes. These efforts tend to keep mayors out of trouble (in other words, on the front page and off the op-ed pages) but with a few noteworthy exceptions, such efforts are low-impact in terms of improving outcomes for students.

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