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ECS Governance NotesOctober - November 2001

Governance Notes Archives


Welcome to ECS Governance Notes, a bimonthly e-mail publication with links to key information on education governance.

In "From States to Districts: The Next Phase of the Standards-Based Movement," Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Olchefske contends that the standards-based changes in state policy create a new and fundamentally different set of goals for school districts. In response to these changes, Olchefske outlines a TIGHT/LOOSE GOVERNANCE MODEL of a standards-based district, and shows how the Seattle schools are implementing their own variation of this model.

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In October 2001, California Governor Gray Davis signed S.B. 740 into law. This bill requires the California State Board of Education to adopt regulations, on or before February 1, 2002, governing CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS, schools that allow students to study at home at their own pace. The legislation also requires the state board to develop a process for funding cyber charter schools.

Pennsylvania policymakers recently modified a law allowing the STATE to TAKE OVER the Philadelphia School District under certain conditions. If such a takeover occurs, the new legislation enables the governor to appoint four of five members, with the mayor appointing the fifth member, of a School Reform Commission, which will be charged with governing the Philadelphia schools. The commission would be permitted to contract with private organizations to operate and manage all or part of the school district, as well as to nullify contracts with school district employees, except those with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Florida Secretary of Education James Horne has established a workgroup on SCHOOL CODE REVISION to develop recommendations for a clear, concise new school code. The workgroup consists of state education staff members, legislative staff, teachers, parents and others. The group is evaluating how to revise the code to reflect the guiding principles of the state's new, student-centered K-20 education governance structure. Recommendations are to be given to the Florida Board of Education by January 1, 2002.

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"Evaluation of the Cleveland Scholarship Program: 1998-2000 Summary Report," a September 2001 report by the Indiana Center for Evaluation, examines the charteristics of students who receive PUBLICLY FUNDED VOUCHERS and participate in the Cleveland Scholarship Program, and compares them with students who do not participate in the program. It explores the characteristics of teachers and classroom experiences by scholarship students and how they compare with those experienced by public school students. It also discusses the impacts of the scholarship program on student achievement.

"State Governance Action Report: Recent and Pending Legislative, Executive, and Citizen Action on Governance, Trusteeship, and Institution-Related Foundation," a 2001 report by the Center for Public Higher Education Trusteeship and Governance at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, provides a summary of state action in 2000 and 2001 on PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION GOVERNANCE. The report presents information about changing governance, reforming trusteeship, boosting administrative flexibility and accountability, strengthening institution-related foundations and understanding the value of effective governing boards.

In the spring of 1999, according to "HOMESCHOOLING in the United States: 1999," an estimated 850,000 students nationwide were being homeschooled. This July 2001 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, examines characteristics of homeschooled children and their families, parents' reasons for homeschooling and public school support for homeschooling.

"A Study of CHARTER SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY," a June 2001 report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement, examines how school districts, states, universities and special state agencies are learning to oversee charter schools. Their findings paint a picture of a new public enterprise in which all parties are learning to play new roles. The report also contains recommendations for state legislators, school district leaders, philanthropists, school leaders, teachers, parents and charter school supporters to improve charter school accountability.

In May 2001, the Institute for Educational Leadership's Task Force on State Leadership released "Leadership for Student Learning: Recognizing the STATE'S ROLE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION." This report describes the primary components of the state educational policymaking apparatus, outlines challenges facing state policymakers and offers 11 guiding principles to support more effective leadership by state policymakers.

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Two important reforms to the governance of public education are SITE-BASED MANAGEMENT and OPEN ENROLLMENT. Site-based management policies devolve budgetary, instructional and/or other decisionmaking authority from centralized school administrations to individual schools. Open enrollment policies allow a student to transfer to the public school of his or her choice. The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently completed issue pages on the ECS Web site for these two reforms, including an overview, information on what states are doing and summaries of selected research and readings.

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The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools is creating an issue page on POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION GOVERNANCE on the ECS Web site. The issue page will contain a wealth of information and resources, including the new Postsecondary Education Structures Database, an interactive database capable of running customized reports on higher education governance.

In October 2001, the U.S. Department of Education's Public Charter Schools Program awarded the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools a grant to undertake a "Supporting Charter Schools Through CHARTER DISTRICTS" project. The four major elements of the project are to create a national clearinghouse of information on charter districts, to develop a set of state and district policy options for creating charter districts, to forge a network of states and districts experimenting with charter districts, and to provide technical assistance to policymakers and practitioners interested in creating charter districts.

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To read more about Education Governance, visit the ECS Issue Site on Governance.


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