Wayne D. Lewis, Jr. is the author of The Politics of Parent Choice in Public Education. He is Executive Director of Education Programs in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Charter Schools- Bad Word In Kentucky

David Cook, the Kentucky State Department of Education’s advisor for the “Race to the Top” program, suggested Tuesday that Kentucky probably will have to make changes in school governance structures that at least resemble the charter school concept in order to get  “Race to the Top” funds. Currently, Kentucky’s school laws do not allow for the creation of charter schools. Cook suggested, however, that making changes to how school-based decision-making councils operate could give considerable freedom to the school councils of failing schools and put Kentucky in a better position to receive funding.

In the brief time that I’ve been …

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Australian Principals to Get Greater Autonomy

According to a recent article in The Australian, education reforms in Australian public schools will lead to school principals being given a great deal more power over budgeting and personnel functions than they had previously been given. Presently, the autonomy of Australian principals varies by state and territory. The shift to devolve power to the school-level come in response to a recognition at by education leaders at the national level that principals require greater decision-making power to respond the demands of increasing school accountability. 

This Australian education reform is evidence that the trend of moving more decision-making power to the …

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Federal Initiatives to Recreate Public Schools as Community Hubs

This afternoon the Center for American Progress sponsored a forum to discuss the future of community schools reforms and school-community partnerships. Among the participants were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, House of Representatives Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, and American Federation of Teacher president Randi Weingarten. The conversation centered around a reinvigorated effort to recreate America’s public schools as community schools, in particular those schools that serve lower-middle and lower income students. Forum participants agreed that the current model of public schools does not effectively serve large segments of American students. They called …

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School Power Devolution and ESEA Reauthorization

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am anxiously awaiting the details of the Obama administration’s proposed reauthorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act). Hopefully, I’m not jumping to conclusions, but recent comments by Sec. Duncan concerning the reauthorization give a school power devolution proponent like myself hope for the future of education reform. In a September 24th speech titled “Reauthorization of ESEA: Why We Can’t Wait,” US Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the statement:


“In my view, we should be …

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School-Based Councils, Superintendents, and Principal Selection in Kentucky

Kentucky State Representative Carl Robbins, chair of the House Education Committee, announced to a group of University of Kentucky education faculty and graduate students today that the House Education Committee would hear a bill during the next legislative session proposing amendments to principal selection in Kentucky. Presently, the Kentucky school based decision making statute (KRS 160.345) gives school-based councils the authority to select a new principal when a vacancy occurs. This policy has come under attack by district superintendents who the policy prevents from having a hand in selecting principals. The obvious intent of the statute was to give teachers …

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Redistricting and Socioeconomic Diversity

Large numbers of parents attended the New Hanover County (Wilmington, NC) School Board meeting last night to protest the board’s proposed redistricting plans. The board has proposed a plan that would arrange students so that students receiving free and reduced-price lunch would not make up any more than 50% of a school’s student body. To do this, however, some students would have to be bused across the county. Some New Hanover County parents have been very vocal opponents of this plan, organizing events and even launching a website

Battles between parents and local school boards over busing are not …

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The Realities of Urban Schools and Communities, Part I (Problems)

I read a comment this morning made by Dr. Steve Perry on AC 360 producer’s David Puente’s blog. Dr. Perry is the founder/principal of The Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut and a CNN education contributor. in response to a question posed by David of whether the federal government should take a response similar to that taken in the 1950’s with school desegregation in response to urban youth violence in and around schools. Dr. Perry said no, and responded saying, “The kids who kill in Chicago don’t kill because they have no regard for the life of …

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NEA Change of Heart on Merit Pay?

Speaking to members of the National Education Association (NEA) at their annual meeting, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged union members to consider the idea of linking teacher pay to student achievement- www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-07-02-teacher-pay_N.htm?obref=obinsite  Surprising, Duncan’s comments were met with what USA Today reported as “raucous applause and only a smattering of boos.” I think this is pretty big news. Both the NEA and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) have been incredibly resistant to this idea. I don’t want to read to much into this, but could their response be a sign that the NEA is in the …

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