Imagine a world without local school boards
It'd be a better place, argues Chester Finn, president of the Fordham Institute, in this essay in "National Affairs." Time and again, Finn writes, local school boards, influenced by teachers unions, stymy promising reforms:
Whether one looks at the development of academic standards, the imposition of testing-and-accountability regimes, the spread of school choice in its many variants, or major changes in how teachers are evaluated and compensated, the impetus has almost never originated with state or local boards of education or the people who work for them. Rather, such initiatives have come from governors and business leaders, from mayors and national commissions, from private foundations, and even from the White House.
Putting those bold reforms into practice, however, generally depends on the traditional management structures of public education. And that is where the momentum slows to a creep. These traditional structures are lethargic, bureaucratic, and set in their ways; while people within them may have experience managing schools and complying with rules, they seldom have the capacity to innovate, to make judgments about matters beyond their customary duties, or to stage successful interventions in failing districts and schools. Moreover, many of these people fiercely oppose the policies they are asked to implement.