The Most Disingenuous Argument Against Mayoral Academies
Suppose you have two schools. Both are funded with public money. Each is run by a principal, with both principals reporting to a superintendent, who reports to a school committee. (This is a small-scale model of what opponents of structural education reform, in Rhode Island and elsewhere, believe is the primary way — if not the only way — that public education should be delivered).
Now consider a different system. There are still two schools, again both funded with public money. In this system, one school is run by principal who reports to a superintendent, while the other is run by principal who reports to a Board of Directors headed by a Mayor.
In both systems, the same amount of money is spent per-pupil in each school.
Opponents of structural education reform will argue that the second school in the second system has taken money away the first school, even when the same amount of public money is spent in both systems to educate the same number of students. It makes no sense, unless complaints of charter schools and mayoral academies taking money away are understood to mean that money is being taken away from the control of a school committee, which has nothing to do with either the educational function or the public status of the schools being considered.
Scale the numbers of schools, students, and personnel to a more realistic level, and the argument is equally as nonsensical. Suppose there are 20 schools in a system. Each school has a principal, who reports to a superintendent, who reports to a school committee. Next postulate a system with 18 schools, each with a principal, who reports to the superintendent, who reports to a school committee — plus 2 more schools, each with a principal, who reports to a Board of Directors headed by the Mayor. Again, opponents of structural education reform will (seriously) argue that, in the second case, the 2-school subsystem has taken money away from the other 18 schools, even 1) if the total amount spent across the 20 schools in both systems is the same and 2) the same amount per-student is spent in each of the district schools in both systems.
Those advancing a rationale that money that is part of a system that they don’t control automatically must be money that has been taken away from them cannot be counted on to get anything correct about the rational management of public finance, or of public education.