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ECS Governance NotesApril - May 2002

Governance Notes Archives


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

Up to this point in the CHARTER SCHOOL movement, reformers and researchers have focused on charter schools themselves, tending to overlook how the charter school model might transform the management and governance of entire systems. In this column, Nelson Smith discusses the potential for the charter school model to work at a large scale, and pays particular attention to the role of the authorizer in such a system.

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At the close of their 2002 session, MARYLAND legislators enacted H.B. 949, which abolishes the locally elected school board in Prince George's County and replaces it with a nine-member school board jointly appointed by the governor and the county executive. The bill also requires that the position of superintendent be replaced by the position of chief executive officer, and provides additional funding to the distict. These changes will take effect on June 1, 2002.

In March, UTAH lawmakers amended their charter school law to increase the cap on the number of charter schools and to require the state board of education, through the state superintendent of public instruction, to provide technical support to charter schools and those seeking to establish charter schools. The state must identify and promote successful charter school models, facilitate the application and approval process, direct charter schools and those seeking to establish a charter school to sources of private funding, and support and assist with the review, preparation and evaluation of charter school proposals.

NEW YORK policymakers recently enacted S.B. 6617, which allows the state to take over the Roosevelt Union Free School District. The bill abolishes the locally elected school board and puts into place a school board appointed by the state board of regents and a superintendent appointed by the state commissioner of education. The bill also provides additional funding to the school district.

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"Student Academic Achievement in CHARTER SCHOOLS: What We Know and Why We Know So Little" reviews what is currently known about charter schools' impact on student achievement. The study finds that the existing body of research reveals a mixed picture, with studies from some states suggesting a positive impact, studies from other states suggesting negative impact and some providing evidence of both. Overall, the impact on student achievement appears to be mixed or very slightly positive.

According to the National School Boards Association's "Team Leadership for Student Achievement," SCHOOL BOARDS and SUPERINTENDENTS must work together as a leadership team for the school district, modeling to staff and community a shared commitment to higher standards, an ability to discuss topics professionally and the belief that continous improvement is necessary if all students are to succeed. This publication is intended to serve as a stimulus for dialogue, an inspiration for building relationships and a framework for mutually developed teamwork.

In "Community Schools in Ohio: Preliminary Report on Proficiency Test Results, Attendance and Satisfaction," the Ohio Legislative Office of Education Oversight examines student results in Ohio's 15 "first generation" community schools (or CHARTER SCHOOLS). The findings are mixed: Most of the proficiency-test result comparisons between matched community and traditional schools showed no conclusive differences. Virtually all comparisons involving student attendance favored community schools. And after three years of community school operation, parents and teachers of both community and traditional schools were generally satisfied with their schools.

California's Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education - Kindergarten through University has been charged with developing a new education master plan for California's next generation of students. The Joint Committee's Working Group on GOVERNANCE submitted its final report in December 2001, and included K-12 state-level, K-12 intermediate-level, K-12 district-level, postsecondary and K-16 recommendations.

"CHARTER SCHOOLS in New York: A New Choice in Public Education" reviews the progress of the 22 charter schools authorized by the State University of New York (SUNY). Among its several findings, the report notes that most of the SUNY-authorized schools are located in high-need areas and that students who enroll in charter schools are among the most at-risk of academic failure, with large numbers of them living in poverty. The report also states that while it is too early to make broad conclusions, early data suggest that students are showing signs of academic progress in the charter school setting.

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To help state and district leaders obtain a clear understanding of current and ideal configurations of their K-12 public education governance systems, the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools has created the GOVERNANCE MATRIX. We suggest using the matrix to answer one of the following questions: Currently, who makes what decisions? Ideally, who should make what decisions?

To reflect legislative changes in the 2001 sessions, the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently updated the "Collection of ECS Statenotes About CHARTER SCHOOLS," which provides summaries of charter school policies in the following areas: charter school basics, charter school finance, charter school autonomy, charter school teachers and charter school accountability.

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As part of a project on ALL-CHARTER DISTRICTS, the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools, in partnership with Public Impact and with funding from the U.S. Department of Education's Public Charter Schools Program, is completing three documents: a policy brief on charter districts; a paper on creating and supporting all-charter districts -- key questions for state leaders; and a companion paper focused on key questions for district leaders.

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


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