Boston should unshackle schools from union-contract provisions and central-office mandates that undermine teaching and learning and instead let all of them operate autonomously, much like charter schools, according to a report being released Tuesday.
The premise of the recommendation is that schools best know the unique needs of their student populations and what measures might hold the most promise in boosting achievement. That, in turn, means the schools should have maximum latitude to make decisions regarding budgeting, staffing, curriculum, and length of school day, instead of being hemmed in by central offices or union contracts, the report concludes.
Providing all schools autonomy would be a dramatic departure from a one-size-fits-all approach to overhauling education that has swept across the nation over the last two decades and has ushered in uniform curriculum, assessments, and other edicts from superintendents’ offices. That movement has flourished even as teachers and principals frequently complain that they are being forced to abandon effective methods for cookie-cutter mandates not suitable for their students.
“Let people follow their passions as long as they are based on sound and reasonable theories,” said Dan French, executive director of the Center for Collaborative Education, a Boston nonprofit that prepared the report with Education Resource Strategies of Watertown.
“It’s common sense,” French said. “If you are going to hold a school accountable, then provide school leaders and faculty maximum control over decisions and resources.”
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