It's not voodoo
2005’s hurricane catalyzed one of the largest governance experiments in American education to date, as Louisiana implemented its Recovery School District law under which it took responsibility for the worst schools in the Big Easy (and a few others throughout the Bayou State). While other state-takeover initiatives have seen mixed results, Louisiana’s push has yielded big upticks in student-test scores. Two reasons why Louisiana’s initiative has fared well: It doesn’t get bogged down in the schools’ day-to-day operations. (It offloads that responsibility onto school leaders—where it belongs.) And it scraps the current edu-governance system (no more school boards, locally elected or otherwise), giving site management over to charter networks and other external providers. The idea has some converts: Michigan (with its Education Achievement System) and Tennessee both recently announced the creation of their own “recovery school districts” (though both remain in the pilot stage). This slowly widening movement holds much promise: States can offer management know-how and dedicated resources and can skirt district contracts that stymie creative school models—without getting bogged down in local politics or bureaucracy. Successful state takeovers of failing districts are elusive—often written off (including by us) as a lost cause. But this 2.0 model sure is promising.
|Click to listen to commentary on the state-led districts from the Education Gadfly Show podcast.|
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