Core Idea 6
Principle U: Small school size
Small school size has many advantages: it mitigates student alienation, it promotes understanding across race and other differences among people, it tends to be less bureaucratic, it makes it easier for teachers to have a strong voice in running their school, and it empowers students and teachers. Disadvantages of small schools can be mitigated in several ways.
Principle V: Professional organizational structure
We call teaching a profession, but we do not treat teachers as professionals. Other professionals, like architects, accountants, and lawyers, often work in partnerships in which they control their work, including all managerial decisions. The professionals are not only responsible for serving the best interests of their clients, but are empowered to do so. There are already over 100 such “teacher-powered” schools in 17 states.
Principle W: Student choice, incentives, and accountability
The current bureaucratic accountability system with its high-stakes tests severely constrains flexibility and innovation. Based on how other professionals are held accountable, we propose a choice-based accountability system where students choose among many small public schools, and the public funds follow the student. This system is designed in such a way as to achieve greater equity than the current system.
Principle X: Administrative structures
The districtwide administrative system plays a servant role rather than a command-and-control role with its schools, for most of its budget comes from the schools it serves. It serves as landlord for the schools, charging them rent for their facilities, and it is contracted by each school to provide support services (accounting, purchasing, janitorial, etc.).
Principle Y: Governance structures
The choice-based decision-making and accountability system changes the role of the school board to more like a regulatory agency. It sets and monitors the attainment of community standards (learning outcomes) much like a chartering organization does now, and it establishes and enforces a small number of policies and regulations that promote equity, diversity, excellence, and other community values.