To the long, familiar list of reasons urban education has failed--too-powerful teacher unions, underfunded and mismanaged schools, poverty's ill effects--Education Secretary Arne Duncan has added another: lack of "leadership from the top." He's talking about mayors in particular, and he wants more of them in charge of urban school districts, à la Chicago, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. How strongly does he feel about it? "At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed." Bold words, indeed. And he's willing to go the extra mile to press his case. He told the nation's mayors, "I'll come to your cities. I'll meet with your editorial boards. I'll talk with your business communities. I will be there." But as he surely knows, this reform, like all others, is no panacea. Mayoral control is only as good as its mayor.
"School chief: Mayors need control of urban schools," by Libby Quaid, Associated Press, March 31, 2009