by Max Brantley
A bipartisan study group yesterday recommended sweeping changes in the U.S. system of education. Check out the Washington Post's summary. Here's a taste:
The most controversial recommendations include empowering school districts to sign contracts with companies and teachers to run the schools -- which would replace schools' administrative structures with something similar to that in charter schools -- and forcing teachers to give up pensions in exchange for large pay increases.
Districts, they said, should relinquish control to the most highly qualified contractors, who would be rewarded for successfully running schools -- or fired if student performance languishes.
The schools "would be like charter schools in one crucial respect: They would be highly entrepreneurial," said Marc Tucker, vice chairman of the commission and staff director and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy.
But Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association, said hiring contractors to run the schools would create "a huge new set of enterprises that we have no evidence will work." Moreover, it would negate the administrative economies of scale provided by a central office and "add a great deal of costs to a school," she said. "We've seen that to an extent with charter schools."