The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools

The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools

The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools

The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools


In 2002 the No Child Left Behind Act rocked America's schools with new initiatives for results-based accountability. But years before NCLB was signed, a new movement was already under way by mayors to take control of city schools from school boards and integrate the management of public education with the overall governing of the city. The Education Mayor is a critical look at mayoral control of urban school districts, beginning with Boston's schools in 1992 and examining more than 100 school districts in 40 states.

The authors seek to answer four central questions: • What does school governance look like under mayoral leadership? • How does mayoral control affect school and student performance? • What are the key factors for success or failure of integrated governance? • How does mayoral control effect practical changes in schools and classrooms?

The results of their examination indicate that, although mayoral control of schools may not be appropriate for every district, it can successfully emphasize accountability across the education system, providing more leverage for each school district to strengthen its educational infrastructure and improve student performance. Based on extensive quantitative data as well as case studies, this analytical study provides a balanced look at America's education reform.

As the first multidistrict empirical examination and most comprehensive overall evaluation of mayoral school reform, The Education Mayor is a must-read for academics, policymakers, educational administrators, and civic and political leaders concerned about public education.


From New York and boston to chicago and Washington, D.C., a new style of big-city mayor has emerged over the past decade. These mayors are no longer content to sit on the sidelines and watch as their cities’ schools struggle to educate their cities’ young people. These newstyle mayors believe in a straightforward, yet unconventional, idea of urban governance: City government should be held accountable for city schools. When city hall and the school district are jointly under the leadership of the mayor for accountability and management purposes, the new institutional arrangement may be characterized as “integrated governance.”

Though straightforward, holding the mayor accountable for school performance challenges our conventional understanding of educational governance. Citizens have traditionally looked to their mayor and city government to maintain a fire department, supply police protection, provide public works, and maintain the city’s parks. But citizens are not used to looking to their mayor when they think about their city’s schools. For public education, one thinks first of the school board and the district superintendent. in this book, we challenge this conventional paradigm. For citizens of large American cities who are dissatisfied with the state of their cities’ public education, it may be time to look beyond the school board and superintendent to the mayor’s office for a new style of educational governance and management.

The movement toward mayoral involvement in big-city schools restructures existing governance and politics. Few city hall officials have been intimately involved with the workings of the local school district. Beyond an annual budget allocation or occasional liaison meeting, city school districts typically operate in isolation from the rest of city government. Separate statutes, buildings . . .

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