Educational Innovation from the Top Down
Is placing centralized power in the hands of government bureaucrats always a bad thing, or is it possible that centralized power can help facilitate market reforms? That is the question I explore in my latest case study, “Decentralization Through Centralization: The Story of the Recovery School District.” In the paper, I look at Louisiana’s Recovery School District, the nation’s first all-charter school district.
Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) has been granted significant authority to intervene in local public schools. With this power, BESE has put in place strong centralized accountability measures that rate individual schools. When a school is identified as academically unacceptable, BESE can close the school and utilize the school building. Through the Recovery School District, BESE can operate a school in the building or authorize a charter to use the space.
Unlike most government agencies, however, BESE and the Recovery School District have used their authority to encourage an educational market built on choice. Essentially, they have used centralization to create, quite possibly, the most decentralized school system in the country.
Louisiana’s Recovery School District is an intriguing model to consider for Missouri. I encourage you to check out the paper and explore how this type of system might work in the Show-Me State.