It’s a question of leadership, according to educational policy expert Frederick M. Hess.
Now that Mayor Sly James has proposed mayoral control of the Kansas City, Missouri School District … and state Commissioner of Education Chris Nicastro seems to be considering his proposal (and others) … the question is, “Could it work?”
Some cities with troubled urban schools have put their mayors in charge. However, Hess — who is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute — says it is difficult to make claims for how well mayoral control works, because not much research has been done on how this form of governance impacts student achievement.
Several years ago, Hess published a summary and analysis of existing research regarding mayoral control, in which he discusses pros and cons of elected versus appointed school boards. His conclusion was that either form of control could work, so long as there is strong continuous leadership. He also provides interesting information about the history of school board leadership, which early 20th-century Progressives instituted to remove districts from the realm of politics.
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