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TitleReinventing Public Education: How Contracting Can Transform America's Schools
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size19.0 MB
Total Pages280
Table of Contents
                            CONTENTS
Preface
PART I: THE CASE FOR CONTRACT SCHOOLS
	1. Preserving Public Education
	2. A Critique of the Current Public School System
	3. A Contract School Strategy
	4. Contracting and Other Reform Proposals
PART II: IMPLEMENTING A CONTRACT SCHOOL SYSTEM
	5. How a Contract Strategy Would Work
	6. Paying for Contract Schools
	7. Politics, Leadership, and Transition Strategies
Appendix A: Two Hypothetical Contract Schools
Appendix B: Primer on School Finance Systems
Appendix C: Questions and Answers about Contract Schools
Bibliography
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

ReinventingPublic Education

Page 140

F I V E

How a Contract Strategy
Would Worl<

Wilkinsburg's Turner Schoollnitiative*

In March 1994,theWilkinsburgSchoolDistrict launchedanunusualat-
temptatpublicschoolchangecalledtheTurnerSchoolInitiative. Turner
School is an elementaryschool serving fewer than 400 students,and
Wilkinsburghasonly four public schools.But for thoseinterestedin ex-
aminingthepossibilityof usingcontractingasanenginefor systemicedu-
cationalchange,the story of this effort is both compellingand thought
provoking.TheTurnerSchoolInitiative is thestoryofwhathappenswhen
acommunitystrugglesto usenewformsof powerandleverageto remedy
asetof problemsthathavebecomecommonplacein U.S. publicschools.

By 1994,economicdeclinehadreducedWilkinsburgfrom astrongmiddle-
classcommunitywith avibrantmainstreetto astrugglingtownof 20,000
with urbanproblemsmoreseverethanthosein Pittsburgh,whichis justto
its west. Over the previoustwo decades,Wilkinsburg'spopulationhad
shrunkby morethan20 percentandbecomeincreasinglypoorandtran-
sient.The 1990censusreportednearlya fifth of thepopulationliving in
poverty,andWilkinsburghadthe largestshareof subsidizedhousingin
Alleghenycounty.

Wilkinsburghadseenits traditionof strong,qualitypublicschoolsdie
aswell. Onceusedby all segmentsof the community,public schoolsin
Wilkinsburghadcometo serveanoverwhelminglyAfrican-Americanstu-
dentpopulationeventhoughthe populationof the boroughwasalmost
halfwhite.Middle-classfamiliesof bothracesweremovingawayorsend-
ing theirchildrento privateschools.

• This section,exceptfor the openingandclosingparagraphs,wascontributedby
JeremyResnick.

127

Page 141

IMPLEMENTING A CONTRACT SCHOOL SYSTEM

The 1,900childrenenrolledin Wilkinsburg'spublic schoolswereat-
tendingschoolsthat were failing. The sizeof Wilkinsburg'sgraduating
classhaddwindledto fewerthanfifty students,andeventhebestprepared
of its graduateswerefinding themselvesill preparedfor the world they
wereentering.The1992valedictorianhada Caverage,andevenstudents
at the top of the classwere taking remedialcourseworkwhen they en-
rolledatareacollegesanduniversities.Thisfailure extendedinto theele-
mentaryschoolsas well. Scoreson standardizedtestswere low in all
subjectareaswith twice asmanychildrenscoringbelow the medianin
Wilkinsburg than elsewherein Pennsylvania.Resultsfrom an earlier
statewideassessmentof low-level, gradeschoolskills showedWilkins-
burgeighthgradersperformingworsethanstudentsin any of the other
forty-two schooldistrictsin thecounty.

The 1993electionshadproduceda Wilkinsburgschoolboarddeter-
minedto bring quality public schoolsbackto theborough.It wasalsoa
boardthatunderstoodthatto achievethisendmightrequiremaverickac-
tion. Traditionalkindsof restructuringthatdependon trustandcoopera-
tion offeredlittle hopefor Wilkinsburg.Teacherstrikes,tax increasesto
supportstrikesettlements,anda teachingforce thatwasno longerliving
in Wilkinsburghadall contributedto anatmosphereof mistrust.And ef-
fortsaimedatcultivatingtrustwerenotworking.A joint effortatstrategic
planningunderwayduring the electionsandintendedto bring together
teachersandcommunitymemberswasaggravatingbadfeelingsinstead.

TheTurnerSchoolInitiative, launchedin March1994,chartedanen-
tirely differentkind of coursethatdid notdependonmutualtrustorgood
feelings.Ratherthancontinuingto quietly cultivatethegoodwill of its
currentprofessionalstaff, theboardstarklyoutlinedits frustrationwith
publicschoolfailureandannounceditsdeterminationtohaveanaccount-
able school of excellenceoperating in Wilkinsburg within eighteen
months.Theboardinvitedcurrentteachersandadministratorstobeapart
of thesolution,butit alsoinsistedthatit wouldmoveaheadwith orwith-
outtheirparticipation.Thosewhowouldnotbepartof thesolutionwould
bepushedaside.

Thevehiclefor announcingtheInitiativeanddemonstratingthisnew,
"whatevernecessary"attitudewasarequestfor proposals(RFP)inviting
responsesfrom groupsinterestedin restructuringTurnerSchoolandthen
operatingit onanoutcome-basedthree-to five-yearcontract.Thecontract
wasto beginno laterthanSeptember1995.ForWilkinsburgschooldirec-
tors, theInitiative strategywasstraightforwardandsensible;for thosein-
sidetheeducationalestablishment,theInitiative strategywasanathema.

128

Page 279

IN DE X

Schoolperformance
contractingand,76
measuring,41-42
staterolein evaluating,152-153
SeealsoAccountability;Quality

control;Tests
Schoolreform

advocatesof, 193-196
implementationof, 47-48
leadershipin, 192-193
needfor, 10, 13
opponentsof, 196-197
requirementsfor success,7-10
strategiesfor, 83-84
SeealsoRequestsfor Proposals

Schoolsfor the21stCentury,199
Schoolsof Education,marketorien-

tationof, 246
Section6 schools,240
Shanker,Albert, 74, 135
Shareddecision-making(SDM),

99
Site-basedmanagement(SBM), 83,

84,99-105
problemswith, 13

Site-managedschools,79
fundingfor, 100-101
qualitycontrolin,102
andstudent/parentchoice,101
teachersfor, 101

Sizer,Theodore,28,55,165,246
Slavin,Robert,28,246
Smith,MarshallS., 109, 110,

113-114
Specialeducation,48-49
Standards,112

in charterschools,117
measuringperformance,

144-149
NationalConferenceof Teachers

of Mathematics,106
staterole in, 151-152
in voucherschools,98-99

State
educationandroleof, 11-12,13,

150-155,187-188
andfundingof contractschools,

166-183
needfor changein laws,188-189
policy-makersat levelof, 34-35
andschoolboards,231
andschoolfinance,172-177,

220-223
andvoucherschools,94,98-99

Studentassignment
in charterschools,117
residenceand,33
in systemicschools,107-108
in voucherschools,93-94

Studentlearning
accountabilityand,41-43,67-

70
incentivesfor, 68-70
SeealsoTests

Studentrecruitment,150,239.See
alsoCompetition;Marketing

Subcontractors,235-236
Superintendents

hiring, 187
policy-makingand,35-36
roleof, 156-157,242-243

Suppliesandservices
arrangementsfor, 154-155
costsof, 180-181
provisionof, 236

Supply-sidestrategy.SeeSite-base
management;Site-managed
schools

SylvanLearningSystems,52
Systemicreform,83,84

educationalgroupsand,191-192
leadershipneededfor, 192-193

Systemicschools
fundingof, 106
problemsWith, 110-114
qualitycontrol, 108-110

266

Page 280

Index

studentassignmentin, 107-
108

teachersand,107

Taxes,173-174,176,237
Teachercollectivebargaininglaw,

189,190
Teachers

andaccountability,77-79
assignmentsof, 43-45,46
"careerladders"for, 247
in charterschools,116-117
compensationof, 9,10
andcompliancewith rules,37-38,

112
ascontractors,137
credentials,246-247
evaluationof, 67-68,93, 107
healthplansfor, 155
hiringandplacementof, 25,38-

42
professionaltreatmentof, 8-9,

77-79
retirementfor,ISS,181-182
roleof, 78-79,159-160
salariesfor, 38-39,41-43,77-78,

159,160,235
senioritysystem,39-40,45,46
trainingfor, 41, 246

TeachersIncomeAnnuity Associa-
tion, ISS,181

Teacherunions,129, 130,131,
189-190

ascontractors,135
leadersin, 195
proposedresponsibilities,6
roleof, 158-159,242
SBMand,100,101

Teenpregnancy,73
Tests,41-42,67-68,111-112,

238-239
statewide,152-153

Texarkana,Texas,241

Textbooks
choiceof, 36-37
contractorsand,236

Thatcher,Margaret,223
Title I, 11
Transportationcosts,179-180.See

alsoBusing
Tuition feeadd-on,237
TurnerSchoollnitiative,127-132

Universities,ascontractors,135-136
UrbanCoalition,194
Utah,101

VaughnNextCenturyLearningCen-
ter,3

Virginia, 103
Vouchers,13,83-84,193,202
Voucherschools

attendance,96
in cities,97
andcontractschools,compared,242
curriculumfor, 92
descriptionof, 91
fundingfor, 91-92
parentchoicesin, 98
problemswith, 95-99
qualitycontrolin, 94-95
reformproposals,89-90
standardsfor, 98-99
studentassignmentto, 93-94
supplyof, 96-98
teachersin, 92-93

Waldorfschools,80, 165
Washington(state),172,197n, 201,

220-221
Bellevue,103
Schoolsforthe21stCentury,199
Universityof, 200

Wilson,JamesQ., 69-70

YMCA, 136,233

267

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