Saturday, August 12, 2006

UPDATE+ADDITIONAL LINKS: New Harvard Studies on Mayoral Leadership in Education

"While we recognize the potential for increased mayoral involvement in public schooling, we have some concerns about it, especially in its most dramatic iteration — mayoral takeovers of school districts.

"Mayoral takeovers in major U.S. cities have been occurring since 1991, when Boston jettisoned its elected school board in favor of a new board appointed exclusively by the mayor. Other cities followed: Chicago in 1995, Cleveland in 1998, Detroit in 1999, and New York City in 2002.

"With fifteen years of history to draw on, some conclusions now can be made about whether this takeover movementhas fully lived up to the optimistic predictions of its proponents — predictions that are now being echoed in Los Angeles.

"In our view, the answer is clear: It has not."

The Editors of the Harvard Educational Review – based on five studies
Mayoral Takeovers in Education: A Recipe forProgress or Peril?

published in the Summer 2006 issue

The commentary above refers to the article, Mayoral Leadership in Education: Current Trends and Future Directions. (Click to read an excerpt from this article. The full article – and other articles are available by paid subscription.) Check your library.

Mayors and Public Education: The Case for Greater Involvement (Click to read excerpt)
Michael D. Usdan

Michael D. Usdan notes that while mayoral involvement in education is often advanced as a way to make school systems less political by diminishing the sometimes fractious politics of school boards, mayors themselvesmay be tempted to politicize the schools in self-serving ways.

The Maturing Mayoral Role in Education
Michael W. Kirst and Fritz Edelstein

In “The Maturing Mayoral Role in Education,” Michael W. Kirst and Fritz Edelstein describe how mayoral involvement in public education was transformed from an emblem of municipal corruption at the turn of the twentieth century to the hallmark of a new view of the mayoralty in the 1990s that focuses on municipal agency efficiency and problem-solving. Looking at mayoral engagement in education today, the authors delineate a basic typology of different levels of mayoral involvement in education, arguing that mayors must accurately assess their local context and their own capacity if they are to succeed in making a positive impact in education.

The Political Dynamics of Mayoral Engagement in Public Education
Kenneth K. Wong

Kenneth K. Wong builds on this basic framework in “The Political Dynamics of Mayoral Engagement in Public Education.” Wong examines the political and economic factors of cities that have compelled mayors to get more involved in education and discusses the specific ways mayors have spent their political capital in exercising such leadership. Wong argues that mayors have unique skill sets that can be brought to bear in the service of school systems, such as the ability to mobilize public support for education, strengthen school accountability, increase the managerial capacity of school districts, and manage intergovernmental relations.

Getting Hold of District Finances:A Make-or-Break Issue for Mayoral Involvement in Education
Paul T. Hill

In “Getting Hold of District Finances: A Make-or Break Issue for Mayoral Involvement in Education,” Paul T. Hill calls attention to a little-studied but critical aspect of school system reform: the nontransparent and sometimes illogical ways school districts allocate funds and personnel, especially teachers. Drawing on a series of studies produced by his Center for Reinventing Public Education, Hill asserts that mayors who seek to reform their schools need to untangle the tendrils of school district accounting practices, and he warns that mayors who attempt large-scale school reform without first attempting to understand their district’s financial and personnel practices do so at their peril.

Using Mayoral Involvement in District Reform to Support Instructional Change
Warren Simmons, Ellen Foley, and Marla Ucelli

Finally, Warren Simmons, Ellen Foley, and Marla Ucelli explore mayors’ capacity to foster school-level improvement in “Using Mayoral Involvement in District Reform to Support Instructional Change.” These authors contend that so far, mayoral efforts to reform public education have fostered shorttermchanges to school districts but have largely failed to spur more meaningful changes at the school and classroom levels. They offer several strategies mayors can use to deepen their impact on teaching and learning, such as creating portfolios of schools and replicating attributes of successful school districts in their own reform efforts.

- are available by paid subscription. Check your library.

4LAKids will make these articles available when and if they become available.

No comments: