Penalties of Scale: Why Large School Districts Need to Disaggregate

Proponents of mayoral control frequently argue that concentrating decision-making power over the school system within the mayor’s office rather than at the state level or within an elected board of education enables more resources to be focused on those most affected by education and enables those most involved in providing education to provide better instruction.  But state control causes local school districts to spend less time on students as well as parents because more time is required to be spent on state imposed bureaucratic obligations and requirements.  Mayoral control advocates, therefore, go further by arguing that concentrating decision-making power over the school system within an elected board of education often leads to instability, fragmented leadership, and a dysfunctional school system.

The local school district not only is closest to the students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers but also has the necessary expertise to most effectively decide how to provide a quality education and to generate the necessary support among local taxpayers for the public funding of public education.  But the size of the local school district impacts school and student performance.  If a school district gets too large and unwieldy even with mayoral control then parental engagement decreases which harms student achievement because parental involvement is a key component supporting student performance.

 

 

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