CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

Idea of the Day: Decentralized Management Is Helping Schools

    PRINT:
  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

idea light bulb

School districts across the country are shifting away from their traditional management paradigm—a central office that directs its schools through uniform mandates and policies—toward a new vision where district leaders support autonomous schools while holding them accountable for student performance. The advent of new governance mechanisms between districts and schools that have come with the rise of charter schools, contract schools, and various systems that allow district-managed schools greater freedom of action in hiring, budgeting, and instructional planning has transformed the command-and-control relationships that were long the hallmark of public school management. As a consequence, school-district leaders increasingly recognize that greater school autonomy requires rethinking their models of district-level management and support.

In 2006, New York City pioneered the transformation of the relationship between the central office and its schools by launching an initiative that gave autonomy to all schools regardless of their performance. During the two-year pilot program that preceded the initiative’s launch, an initial cohort of 26 schools organized itself into four networks of schools that worked together to solve common problems. These networks were supported by a small team of central-office staff who understood school autonomy and helped schools address a broad range of issues, from instruction to hiring to budgeting. As the pilot program scaled up, additional schools followed suit and voluntarily affiliated into networks of similar-size schools. These new networks were also supported by expert teams of district personnel or by staff from a select group of education nonprofits. By 2010, every public school in New York City was required to select a support partner and join a network.

For more on this topic, please see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or lbartolomeo@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
202.796.9705 or eshulman@americanprogress.org

Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.481.8142 or bstrong@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or jmolina@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here