NCLB: In Praise Of NCLB's "Other" Option
From Guest Contributor Cheryl Sattler:
There’s been a lot of criticism of the fact that most schools choose the “other” option for restructuring under No Child Left Behind. The Center on Education Policy calls this “the path of least resistance,” while Hoover asks if this is “taking the easy way out.”
The implication is that schools are
dodging “real” reform. Based on these analyses, some advocates have
begun pushing Congress to eliminate the “other” option entirely.
But if the current named options were the only ones on the table, it is likely that even less change would occur. Charter schools require a group outside the district to be sufficiently invested in a school (and capable of not only educational change, but finance, food service, transportation, etc.) to take a school over. They can’t be imposed by a district. Replacing all or most of the school staff isn’t just a union nightmare. It’s a timing and capacity nightmare as well. Districts hire in early spring but don’t find out if they’ll have to restructure until the late summer. Capable people aren't necessarily ready and willing to jump on board. State takeovers aren't even allowed in most states, and how realistic is it to expect a bunch of bureaucrats, miles away, to run schools?
Only the fourth option, use of education management organizations, deserves more of a shot than it's been given. Districts don’t want to give up control, and
states don’t want it, either. But states could certainly
make an effort to move control from a school district to a management organization of some kind. -- Cheryl Sattler