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ECS Governance NotesFebruary - March 2002

Governance Notes Archives


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

No center of power is better positioned to provide leadership for education reform and improvement than SCHOOL BOARDS, according to Donald McAdams. And nowhere is effective leadership and good governance more crucial than in the nation's urban districts.

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On December 28, 2001, ALABAMA Governor Donald Siegelman signed S.B. 66D into law. This bill creates the Commission on Public Education Assessment, Organization and Allocation and a companion advisory board. By December 2, 2003, these groups are to provide recommendations for public education structure, governance and funding in Alabama, along with bills suitable for introduction, to the governor, lieutenant governor and legislators.

In MARYLAND, state policymakers are debating an emergency measure to intervene in the Prince George's County School District. H.B. 780 establishes a five-person committee to be jointly appointed by the state superintendent, the county executive and the governor. The committee will review and approve personnel, certain procurements and education and budgetary policy decisions made by the locally elected school board. This bill was recently reported favorably out of the Maryland House Committee on Ways and Means.

MINNESOTA legislators are debating a bill to create non-geographic school districts. H.B. 2984 allows a legislative review committee to approve entities that apply to become non-geographic school districts. Such districts could, among other things, contract with other entities to create and operate schools. The bill is currently in the Minnesota House Committee on Education Policy.

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The New Jersey Commissioner of Education last year released an evaluation of and recommendations for New Jersey's CHARTER SCHOOLS program. One important finding is that students in charter schools overall are making substantial progress in some areas of the statewide assessment. In those areas, charter schools are outperforming their comparable districts of residence. Noteworthy recommendations include providing charter schools with state aid for facilities, giving state-funded grants to founders and/or leaders of charter schools immediately after the charter school is approved and providing charter schools with added relief from mandates.

The "Report on the Final Evaluation of the CITY-STATE PARTNERSHIP" provides a broad-based analysis of the City of Baltimore and State of Maryland's effort to jointly manage the Baltimore City Public Schools. This report, produced by WestStat, finds that the new board, which was created in 1997 as a result of state legislation, has responded in good faith to the requirements of the law that produced the changes, and has provided strong leadership in improving what was a school system on the brink of failure. Most significantly, the report finds that there has been improvement in student achievement in the four years since the partnership was put into place.

Mathematica Policy Research Inc. recently released "School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program." This report presents findings from an evaluation of this PRIVATELY FUNDED VOUCHERS program, in which students were randomly assigned to a scholarship group or a control group. The authors examine the impacts of the program on students' test scores after three years in the program as well as its impact on school facilities, school climate, parents' satisfaction with schools and parental communication and involvement.

"Contradictions and Control in Systemic Reform: The Ascendancy of the Central Office in Philadelphia Schools," produced by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, evaluates the ROLE OF THE CENTRAL OFFICE in implementing the Philadelphia School District's Children Achieving Agenda from 1996 to 2001. According to the report, the policies and rhetoric of district leaders and central office staff changed over the course of the reform, and shifted from a focus on decentralization to a more prescriptive approach. The report offers lessons for school district leaders who are undertaking similar reforms.

In 2001, the Pennsylvania Education Secretary released the findings of a three-month review of CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS. According to the review, Pennsylvania is a pioneer in the establishment of cyber charter schools, and has the largest number of cyber charter schools in the nation. The report includes information on the state's cyber charter schools, as well as recommendations on how to improve the academic and fiscal accountability of such schools.

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ECS' National Center on Governing America's Schools is tracking legislative activity in the 2002 state legislative sessions in four areas: CHARTER SCHOOLS, PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE, STATE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURAL CHANGES, VOUCHERS, TAX CREDITS AND TAX DEDUCTIONS. These documents are updated once a week.

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The Arkansas Advisory Committee to Study the Structure of Public Elementary and Secondary Education asked the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools to research and present summaries of how 11 states govern their K-12 public education systems. The states are Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennesse, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The ECS National Center is in the final stages of completing this report.

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


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