Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Observations on local control

This issue is all about who allows whom to have power in the society. Anti-local control people don't have a problem with wealthy communities having local control over their school districts. For instance, no one gripes about the local control of Piedmont City Unified (CA), even though the district is labeled “failing” because it hasn’t made AYP since 2003 (median household income = $168,947).

There's probably some dividing line of wealth in a district, above which local control is a non-issue for the anti-local control crowd, but under which they consider local control to be abhorrent. We can't let the unwashed masses make their own decisions and have their own leaders, can we?

And if the complaint is that there is a dearth of strong local leadership talent at the grassroots level, then why don’t the reformers urge their philanthropist friends to pour money into long range efforts that will develop the leadership skills of more people in the local community? To me that would be a socially healthy way to proceed in a country which considers itself to be a democracy. Oh right, I forgot...if that ever happened it would disrupt the monopoly of who is in control.

I recall Charlie Rose and Yale president Richard Levin talking about Yale's approach to developing leaders (2004 interview). Levin said:
“We have like 250 undergraduate student organizations. Now that means that there are 250 presidents, or leaders, of these organizations…So it really is a lot of opportunity for Yale students to learn how to work in teams, to learn how to work in groups toward a common purpose, and then have opportunities to rise to leadership roles within them.”
That approach sounds smart to me.

A lot of urban school students have been chronically deprived of clubs and similar healthy social opportunities. What better way to prevent those young people from having the types of experiences which might develop their leadership talents?

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