The Business of Education Improvement: Raising LEA Performance Through Competition
March 16, 2005
From England's CBI, a lobbying organization that terms itself the "voice of business," comes this 40-page look at some UK efforts to turn around faltering local education agencies (LEAs) via private-sector interventions. From 1999-2001, Britain's labor government "outsourced" various functions in nine ultra-low-performing LEAs to private sector partners - and opted not to do so with eleven other such LEAs. This analysis compares the performance of the two groups of LEAs and finds that the privately-outsourced districts outperformed the others and improved more than the national average. Though the specific interventions varied (they are described in an appendix), their overall success is attributed to six factors, such as improved governance, the "discipline of contracting," and "new leadership and management." England has not, however, sustained this "market" of private sector intervenors, mostly because of political objections. The CBI, not surprisingly, recommends that government focus on ensuring a "greater diversity of supply in the provision of education support services and frontline schooling." Though international parallels have their limits, this one is interesting in light of NCLB's push for states to intervene in underperforming Title I districts. It may suggest some new (and doubtless contentious) ways of doing so. You can find the report online here and a press release here.