State takeovers of large urban districts have become more common in recent years, but there’s no clear-cut evidence that the intervention leads to better student performance or fiscal management, a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts concludes.
Using Pennsylvania’s 2001 takeover of the Philadelphia schools as a starting point, the analysis compares elements of the city’s school governance structure with those of 15 similar urban districts, including Baltimore, Detroit, and Newark, N.J. It found, in fact, that no form of school governance, be it elected local school boards, mayoral control, or state takeover, provides a surefire way to address the academic and fiscal issues, and possible mismanagement, that large districts often face.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter are among those who want to abandon the state takeover and return the city’s schools to local control. Wolf wants an elected school board, while Nutter favors one that is mayorally appointed.
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2016 edition of Education Week as District Leadership