These days, everyone talks about empowering principals, teachers, and parents at the school level, but when push comes to shove (and mid- and upper-level bureaucrats face the prospect of giving up power and control) it ends up being more talk than action (i.e. it's not in the bureaucrats' self-interest to loosen the grip.) This is a major theme in my new book.
Why will this reorganization be any different? And why should teachers and parents be as optimistic as The Chalkboard thinks they should be this time around? If you listen carefully, you'll notice that Klein understands that you can't push power downward to the school level without a bunch of ball-busters on board. I'm talking about people who truly understand the concept of empowering entrepreneurial school leaders and staffs to control their destinies, and who can look into the eyes of well-respected big-wigs in the Department of Education and remind that they are not as powerful as they used to be in the old world order.
Remember, this plan requires rethinking how things work, i.e. the central and regional administrations exist to serve the educators, not the other way around, as is the current practice.
The best news coming out of this reorganization just may be the people Klein has brought on to help him move these bureaucratic mountains: Chris Cerf, a former Clinton administration staffer who most recently served as president and COO of Edison Schools (and a great guy, to boot) and the consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal, which was baptized in the cut-throat world of public school politics when it was hired to clean-house in the troubled and shockingly-bloated St. Louis Schools (and is now involved in restructuring the New Orleans schools.)
Read the NY Times story here, NY Post story here, NY Daily News here, and NY Sun here.
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