“Local control” is the most sacred principle in American education, an idea so deeply ingrained in history and practice that its shortcomings are almost never articulated. Yet a look at the history of local control as the organizing principle of schooling suggests that an approach that made perfect sense in the 1700’s is crippling American education today. Whatever its successes in the past, local control today assures four major problems: dramatic financial inequity; no overall way to assess student achievement; disincentives for research and development; and excessive politicization of schooling. As a result of these and related failings, most schools, far from relishing the supposed freedom granted by local control, feel trapped and disempowered.
The only way to demand more from schools while freeing educators and parents to find diverse ways for schools to perform better is to take a cue from other advanced countries and move toward a more nationalized system, especially when it comes to the standards we expect students to meet and the resources we allocate to help them do so.
Please join us for a lively discussion and Q&A session on a new paper from the Center for American Progress by Senior Fellow Matt Miller.