When a Bureaucratic System Can’t Sustain Successful Reform, Shouldn’t We Change the Bureaucracy Rather Than End the Reform?
The transition of Hope High School in Providence back to city control, reported on most recently by Linda Borg in today’s Projo, illustrates the premises that animate both charter school and site-based management school reform movements.
Rhode Island’s State Commissioner of Education took a direct role in operating Hope High in 2005; after educational results showed some improvement, Hope was returned to full city control this past February. However, the school administration in Providence has announced its intention to undo some of the changes that have helped Hope improve…
Beginning in September, Hope will move to a six-period day like all of the other high schools in the city. The high school currently has a so-called “block” schedule composed of four 90-minute periods a day, a schedule that teachers say allows them enough time to delve more deeply into subjects.The reasons cited for the changes are increased costs associated with the differently structured school-day…
The new schedule will also reduce or eliminate Hope’s various common planning periods that teachers say are vital to revamping the school’s academics, creating individual learning plans and developing student advisories.
According to [Providence Superintendent Tom Brady], this model requires 20 to 30 additional teachers at a cost of roughly $2.5 million a year.…as well as a desire by Providence’s school administrators to make Hope’s school day uniform with the rest of the district.
But suppose there was an organization, either an outside school operator or a homegrown group of teachers and administrators, that said it believed it could find a way to make the new schedule work within a more standard budget, if various regulations and mandates were relaxed. Would trying to figure out how to make a program like that work be worth trying? Or should the highest goal of an educational bureaucracy be to impose a uniform structure on everyone’s school-day, and on other aspects of school management, whether that uniform structure provides the best education or not?