Tennessee’s Achievement Schools District (ASD) is the latest character onstage in the most interesting act of contemporary education reform: structural changes in the governance and operation of public schools.
The ASD is the latest character onstage in the most interesting act of contemporary education reform: goverance reform
Image by Alan Cleaver.
For eons, the plot was the same: the district owns and operates all public schools in a geographic area. The subplot, at least in urban America, was that most of those schools weren’t delivering on the promise of public education.
Chartering, which crept on stage in 1991, subtly but importantly showed that entities besides districts could run public schools—and often run them better. Soon thereafter, Michigan and Massachusetts, adding dimension to the character, showed that non-district entities could also authorize (approve, monitor, renew, close) public schools.
The district’s monopoly grip on public education was broken.
Over the past two decades, chartered schools got more and more stage time, breaking into nearly every state and growing to capture larger market shares in America’s cities: 10, 15, 20, 30 percent in some areas.
Then the plot added a new twist, as state departments of education were empowered to take over individual schools and even entire districts.