After years of status quo, "throw money at it" solutions to difficulties in public education, Missouri is finally moving forward with some more constructive politicies. The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch has an article discussing the changes, as well as some proposed ideas that were ultimately left out of the final legislation. We have already written pretty extensively about methods for improving the schools, so I won't rehash old arguments too much. However, I would like to suggest a few more systematic changes that might help as well.
First, open enrollment within and between the city and county districts could increase competition for students between schools and districts. The prospect of losing students, and the funding that comes with them, should spur schools to rethink failed programs and develop new ones to better meet student demand. This does not mean dismantling public schooling as we know it, only dismantling some of the artificial boundaries we've created between schools and districts. Our loyalty should be with the students, not the institutions.
To further encourage innovation and creativity amongst teachers and administrators we might consider "Chartering" all public schools. "chartering" does not mean removing public oversight of schools, only giving more power to individual schools to set their own direction. Eliminating some of the bureaucratic red tape inherent in public institutions will make it easier for schools to specialize to meet particular student needs. At this point, all options with any potential for success should be on the table. The steps taken by MO legislators in HB265 are a good start. Hopefully they are but the tip of a very large education reform iceberg.