Battling Corruption in America's Public Schools
Lydia G. Segal
This new book by attorney Lydia Segal (of John Jay College at CUNY) is a sort of companion to Making Schools Work, which she co-authored with William Ouchi. (For more information, see http://www.edexcellence.net/gadfly/issue.cfm?issue=112#1412.) Based on research in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, it exposes "systemic waste" and "embedded fraud" in the operations of those public school systems and shows how sizable sums intended to pay for education are being diverted to other purposes. Some of it is illegal; much is simply stupid, the costly consequence of a bureaucratic, rule-bound, procedure-obsessed system in which everything becomes pricier and less efficient than it should be. Besides illuminating and analyzing the problem, Segal offers solutions that track the prescriptions of Making Schools Work: radical decentralization of control and budget to individual schools combined with a variety of performance-based accountability and monitoring systems. As she writes at the end, "Given the crisis our city children face, it is time to change the status quo, stop providing incentives for abuse and waste, and give teachers, principals, and local managers the authority and responsibility to do what so many of them desperately want to do: help children and improve learning." The ISBN is 1555535844 and you can obtain additional information from the Northeastern University Press at http://www.atsweb.neu.edu/nupress-cgi/nupress.cgi?action=more_info&id=428.