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ECS Governance NotesJuly - August 2003

Governance Notes Archives


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

In this issue's guest column, Christopher Chapman and Stacey Bielick examine the findings from a recently released major study on trends in the use of SCHOOL CHOICE between 1993 and 1999.

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In May 2003, CALIFORNIA legislators approved S.B. 39, which allows the state to give an emergency loan to the Oakland Unified School District. In exchange, it permits the state to appoint an administrator to run the district, with authority to terminate the superintendent and make the school board an advisory body to the state-appointed administrator.

In their 2003 session, NEW MEXICO legislators referred a constitutional amendment to the voters that would significantly change education governance structures in the state. If the ballot measure passes, the state will have a governor-appointed secretary of education, instead of a state board of education-appointed chief state school officer, and an elected state board of education instead of a board composed of both elected and governor-appointed members.

On May 8, 2003, INDIANA Governor Frank O'Bannon signed S.B. 501 into law, which changes how the state funds charter schools by requiring that the per-pupil amount for a charter school be the per-pupil amount for the district in which the school is located. It also limits the number of new charter schools allowed to open in the next two years. According to the bill, all of the state's universities can only sponsor five new charter schools a year.

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The National Center for Education Statistics recently released "Trends in the Use of SCHOOL CHOICE: 1993 to 1999," which describes families' use of different types of public and private schools. According to the report, the percentage of children enrolled in public, assigned schools decreased from 1993 to 1999, while the percentage enrolled in public, chosen schools increased during the same period.

The RAND Corporation recently released "Charter School Operations and Performance: Evidence from California." This study of CHARTER SCHOOLS in California focuses on four questions: Who attends charter schools? How does student achievement in charter schools compare to achievement in conventional public schools? How are charter schools monitored? Does the operation of charter schools differ significantly from that of conventional public schools? The study's findings suggest reason for cautious optimism about the state's charter schools, but also reason for concern about the performance of the state's cyber charter schools.

According to "EFFECTIVE SUPERINTENDENTS, EFFECTIVE BOARDS: Finding the Right Fit," emerging research suggests that improving student achievement across a district will only occur under superintendents and school board members who are collaborative rather than confrontational and know how to use politics to bring about change. They need a vision and plans to achieve that vision. Their decisions must be based on hard data rather than conjecture. And they must have the political will and personal commitment to stay the course rather than succumb to the lure of a quick fix.

"Mapping SCHOOL CHOICE in Massachusetts: Data and Findings 2003," produced by the Center for Education Research and Policy at the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, describes various school choice options in Massachusetts and details the extent to which each option is available and exercised. The report includes information on the national context, statewide information on the use of each of the options and an in-depth look at school choice dynamics in the metropolitan Boston area.

"CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZING: Are States Making the Grade?" is the first major effort to examine charter school authorizing. It grades states on two matters: how well existing state policy environments were supporting effective schools and authorizers, and whether authorizer practices were leading to quality oversight and acountability. It also identifies key issues across states, and finds that many state policy environments are not supportive of chartered schools and authorizers. It also finds that states with higher ratings have more "proactive" authorizers when it comes to technical assistance and charter advocacy.

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The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools is producing a set of papers exploring the appropriate federal, state and local roles in a number of areas, such as school choice, in light of the states-rights provisions of the 10TH AMENDMENT to the Constitution. One of these papers, "Wanted: A National Manpower Policy for Education" by Linda Darling-Hammond and Gary Sykes, urges the federal government to create a national education manpower program to meet the ambitious goals of having a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

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The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools is updating its "K-12 GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES Database." This database contains information about K-12 governance structures in each state. From this database, you can generate profiles of individual state K-12 governance structures, comparisons of states' K-12 governance structures and predetermined reports on state K-12 governance structures. The updates will be completed in September.

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


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