Rethinking Education Governance for the 21st Century

Improving Student Achievement

School reforms abound today, yet even the boldest and most imaginative among them have produced—at best—marginal gains in student achievement. What America needs in the 21st century is a far more profound version of education reform. Instead of shoveling yet more policies, programs, and practices into our current system, we must deepen our understanding of the obstacles to reform that are posed by existing structures, governance arrangements, and power relationships. Yet few education reformers—or public officials—have been willing to delve into this touchy territory.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Center for American Progress have teamed up to tackle these tough issues and ask how our mostly 19th-century system of K-12 governance might be modernized and made more receptive to the innumerable changes that have occurred—and need to occur—in the education realm. We have commissioned 15 first-rate analysts to probe the structural impediments to school reform and to offer provocative alternatives.

At an event held on December 1, 2011, these distinguished scholars—joined by a cast of forward-thinkers—presented their draft papers and probed the implications for governance reform. Opening remarks by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli, as well as a chapter by CAP Vice President for Education Policy Cynthia G. Brown, are available here for download. The full selection may be found in Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform, edited by Paul Manna and Patrick McGuinn.

For more on the conference see here.

Opening remarks

The Failures of U.S. Education Governance Today by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli


Fractured Governance of Resources and the Need for a Coherent and Fair System of Funding to Support High-Quality Public Schools by Cynthia Brown