States Moving Into the Spotlight With Varied Pilot Efforts
In the past few years, a number of states have created and funded pilot programs to experiment with the concept of school restructuring. Listed below are some examples:
Arkansas. Restructuring for Higher Order Learning. A 1987 initiative of Gov. Bill Clinton. Fifteen schools that have met the minimum standards established by the state's 1983 education-reform law have been given the chance to restructure their schools in order to improve student learning. Schools may submit requests for waivers from state rules and regulations, accompanied by a rationale for why such waivers are needed. No funding is currently available for the program, but the Governor has asked lawmakers to expand it by providing planning grants of up to $5,000 for participating schools, and three- to five-year implementation grants of up to $30,000 per year. As part of the planning grants, each school would have to develop an accountability system for reporting its results to the public. Contact: Marie Parker, program support manager, Arkansas Department of Education, 4 State Capitol Mall, Room 404A, Little Rock, Ark. 72201; (501) 682-4243.
Maine. Restructuring Schools Project. An initiative sponsored by the Maine Department of Educational and Cultural Services to change the structure of schools in order to deliver education more effectively to all students. Seven schools have received $10,000 planning grants, and three schools have received three-year implementation grants of $50,000 each year. Participating schools may request waivers from state rules and regulations that impede their plans. The schools also must devise measures to evaluate their programs. Contact: Richard H. Card, deputy commissioner, Maine Department of Educational and Cultural Services, State House Station No. 23, Augusta, Me. 04333; (207) 289-5112.
Massachusetts. Carnegie Schools. A $1.5-million grant program to encourage innovations in school-based management and decisionmaking in order to improve student learning. In August, seven schools were awarded $30,000 planning/implementation grants. Participating schools receive technical assistance from the state and may request waivers from rules and regulations that impede their progress. Additional funds may be released for the program after January, if the state's revenue picture improves. Contact: Barbara Brauner Berns, director, office of planning, research, and evaluation, Massachusetts Department of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1385 Hancock St., Quincy, Mass. 02169; (617) 770-7309.
North Carolina. LEAD Teachers/Restructuring Project. Six schools in threees are participating in this two-year, $450,000 pilot program that is intended to improve student learning by changing the decisionmaking structure at the school site and by creating new roles for teachers. All of the schools have been freed from existing rules and regulations, in exchange for providing lawmakers with accountability measures of student performance and employee satisfaction. Contact: John N. Dornan, The Public School Forum of North Carolina, 117 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, N.C. 27603; (919) 832-1584.
Washington State. Schools for the 21st Century. In 1987, lawmakers approved this $2.5-million grant program to encourage individual schools and districts to experiment with reforms of their own design. To date 21 projects, encompassing both individual schools and school districts, have been selected to restructure their schools in order to improve student learning. The schools and districts chosen for the program will have six years to conduct their experiments, and more schools will be allowed to join the program in future years. Participating schools may also request waivers from state regulations that hinder their efforts, such as those stipulating the length of the school day. Each grantee is responsible for evaluating its project, including providing some measure of student performance. Contact: Marcia Costello, coordinator, Schools for the 21st Century, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Old Capitol Building, Mailstop FG-11, Olympia, Wash. 98504; (206) 586-4512.