Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform
The concept of portfolio management in K-12 education (PMM)—a diverse array of public schools overseen but not directly run by a central office—has many advocates. The authors of this new edited volume, including Henry Levin and Josh Edelman, examine its strengths and weaknesses via case studies of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, each of which has employed at least a limited version of PMM. Their findings: the portfolio approach can jumpstart change in dysfunctional districts but is no silver bullet. In New York City, for example, the Bloomberg-Klein regime saw genuine academic gains through its PMM model but the changes made turn out to have less to do with the model itself than with the political and economic strength of Bloomberg and Klein. In New Orleans, the portfolio approach to education has coincided with increased student performance. However, the district now spends more on education than it did during its pre-PMM days, and lacks a coordinated governance structure. Education policy, the authors argue, often suffers from an unchecked rush to judgment on new ideas. However, they also argue that, absent a willingness to try new approaches, we are stuck with the status quo.
Katrina E. Bulkley, Jeffrey R. Henig, and Henry M. Levin, eds., Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2010).
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