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Street-Savvy School Reform

Education Next – Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim

“Political scientist E. E. Schattschneider likened politics to a fight between two men in a street. If nobody intervenes, the stronger will win. But if the weaker fighter can get a bystander to join in on his side, the dynamic changes. As Schattschneider noted, the result depends less on the strength of the two fighters than on the behavior of the crowd… This article is based on the experience of civic and education leaders in six big-city school systems—New York City, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland, Newark, and Cleveland—that have adopted a “portfolio strategy.” This approach calls for continuous improvement of a city’s schools through managing a mix, or portfolio, of schools—traditional public schools, privately managed schools, and charter schools—and regularly adjusting that mix (opening some and reconstituting others) in light of student needs. But our findings are relevant to any reform strategy bold enough to threaten established interests.”(more)

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