School Choice or Best Systems: What Improves Education?

By Margaret C. Wang; Herbert J. Walberg | Go to book overview

5
Integrated Governance in Chicago and Birmingham (UK)
Kenneth K. Wong
University of Chicago

TRANSFORMING URBAN SCHOOL SYSTEMS

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Birmingham, England, Local Education Authority (LEA) lead their respective nations with their school reform strategies. Since Mayor Richard Daley took over the school system in July 1995, the CPS have made significant improvements in their financial management, administrative functions, and educational performance. Major initiatives that initially posed political risks, such as an end to social promotion and the creation of Summer Bridge programs, are now endorsed by national, state, and local leaders from the two major political parties, including President Bill Clinton, Texas Governor George Bush, and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. In large part because of the CPS accomplishments in the absence of additional state funds, the mayor was selected as 1 of the 10 “public officials of the year” (Ehrenhalt, 1997, p. 22). The system is managed by a politically skillful school board president, a dynamic chief executive officer (CEO), Paul Vallas, and a competent administrative team, including the chief education officer.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, the Birmingham LEA has undergone a transformation. In September 1993, the Birmingham City Council reversed a decade of neglect in education with its appointment of a nationally known reformer, Professor Tim Brighouse, as the chief educa-

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