July 12, 2006
Remember the mid-1990s, when pruning regulations and focusing on results was all the rage? Like so many education-reform movements, it's skipped town like a Texas twister. The state legislature there has turned its back on district autonomy, giving Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley power to oversee the state's $260 million teacher incentive program, and to set annual targets for district expenditures. Most important, she can now replace teachers and administrators in schools rated for two consecutive years as "Academically Unacceptable." That's a whole lotta jobs, pardner, considering that 364 schools made the year-one list in 2005-06. Gadfly is no friend of state bureaucracies, and generally believes school leaders should call the shots (see here), but also understands that most local school boards are little more than agents of organized adult interests (see here). So if Neeley is willing to pull the trigger and make the tough choices that ultimately benefit students and schools, we've got her back. If she doesn't, district leaders will be waiting behind the corral.
"School reform in state's hands," by Terrence Stutz, Dallas Morning News, July 10, 2006