ERIC Number: ED397516
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Jun
Bending without Breaking: Improving Education through Flexibility & Choice.
Education Commission of the States, Denver, CO.
Controversy abounds in states and communities across the United States about how best to manage the nation's schools. Much of the current debate over school reform can be reduced to a single question: Who should decide? This report discusses some of the ways in which policymakers have attempted to give schools greater flexibility from rules and regulations. The report is based on the belief that the existence of school choice will create competitive pressures for schools to improve. It presents a variety of strategies to provide greater flexibility for education, and asserts that the key to flexibility is a fundamental change in the relationships between individual schools and the public agencies that authorize and fund them. Schools must control real-dollar resources and key employment decisions. The report argues that flexibility allows schools to be more responsive to parents' wishes and students' needs; gives teachers and administrators a stronger sense of purpose and responsibility; creates models of innovation; and encourages schools to use their resources more efficiently. The range of strategies that promote flexibility can be divided into two broad categories: (1) those that are designed to apply to all schools; and (2) those that present individual schools, districts, and communities with options. The first category includes waivers; state education code revisions; standards, assessment, and accountability reforms; public school choice; vouchers; collective bargaining changes; school-finance changes; and the restructuring of state education agencies and school district offices. The second category includes decentralized decision making and alternative models of delivering education, such as charter schools, reform networks, and private contracting. The document also outlines the new roles for schools, school boards, state education agencies, and states under a flexible framework. One figure, a matrix showing state-by-state policies, and a list of contributors are included. (Contains 29 references.) (LMI)
Descriptors: Charter Schools, Decentralization, Educational Change, Educational Improvement, Educational Policy, Educational Vouchers, Elementary Secondary Education, Free Enterprise System, Government School Relationship, Institutional Autonomy, Privatization, School Choice, School District Autonomy, Standards
ECS Distribution Center, 707 17th Street, Suite 2700, Denver, CO 80202-3427; 303-299-3692; fax: 303-296-8332; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.ecs.org (Stock No. SI-96-4; $12.50 plus $4.25 postage and handling; quantity discounts).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Commission of the States, Denver, CO.