The Last Wave: The Rise of the Contingent School District
70 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2010
Date Written: 2006
Spurred in part by state court cases holding that states bear a constitutional duty to educate all children adequately, and making creative use of the arguments of school choice advocates, the states and other policy actors have in recent years recast the problem of deficient schooling as one of government structure rather than one of individual rights. This reorientation has contributed to a dramatic erosion of the traditional role of the local school district as the leading administrative, policymaking, and legal unit of American school government. A new, polyarchic distribution of power has arisen in place of district primacy, bearing potentially momentous consequences for educational litigation and for the realization of educational rights generally. Interests that currently wield disproportionate power over urban school district management, especially teachers’ unions, will likely find their influence reduced. Structural change will also likely blunt the ability of courts to guide further the course of school reform. Finally, the shift towards polyarchy may well begin to erode the power of suburban interests that have long dominated educational law and politics.
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