CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION - PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION Empowerment Schools Real Decision-Making Power for Effective Schools Notes by Sy Fliegel, President and Gilder Senior Fellow, CEI-PEA notes This fall, 332 New York City public schools became data (to show the “value added” of the school to Empowerment Schools, which means that they now children’s education), and participating in intensive have greater autonomy in exchange for greater quality reviews. Each school enters into a four-year accountability as measured by student performance. performance agreement upon becoming an The Empowerment Schools initiative is unlike any Empowerment School, and all schools must comply prior effort to decentralize the school system because with the Chancellor’s Regulations to the extent power is given directly to schools rather than districts required by the law, as well as labor contracts and or school boards. In Empowerment Schools, principals portions of the Children’s First policy. By the second can truly be held accountable for student performance year, schools are reviewed to assess the effectiveness of because they have direct control over key educational the principal in implementing the school plan. If the decisions and resources. The principals are literally principal is deemed ineffective, he or she can be putting their jobs on the line to become an removed. This level of accountability is unheard of in Empowerment School because each school’s success the traditional public school system, and it will help will be measured through a comprehensive student guarantee that generations of students are not left assessment system that will determine the value that behind because of ineffective educators. the school adds to each student’s education. Each school selects membership into a “network” of up With nearly one-fourth of the City’s principals opting to 25 Empowerment Schools. This past spring, the for their school to become an Empowerment School, it principals of the first 332 schools were able to interview is clear that this reform is the first major step towards the individuals selected to serve as “network team restructuring the entire school system. Empowerment leaders” and learn about the educational organizations Schools gain significant decision-making power, that will support each network. The network team including: leaders, charged with providing support to the school leaders, are in effect “hired” by the schools as each • Control over organization of the school, staff and school in the network pays a portion of the network schedule. leader’s salary. The network team leaders work with an educational organization to deliver a range of support • Choice over instructional practices and services, including curriculum and instructional professional development. development, hiring and budgeting. This system of • Ability to implement the City’s core curriculum choice sets up a two-way stream of accountability NOVEMBER OR propose an alternative curriculum. between the principals and the network leaders, rather • Choice over educational programming and service than the traditional hierarchy of the centralized system. 2006 providers to meet the needs of English language learners and students with special needs. Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have worked hard over the past four years to bring “The more than 300 • Ability to develop summer programming. order to the largest public school system in the country. principals… want to • More resources (approximately $250,000 of The Empowerment Schools program is a logical be leaders who are discretionary funding per school). extension of the other reforms implemented by prepared to set ambi- • Ability to make budget changes without approval Bloomberg and Klein, including the Leadership tious goals, make from central offices. Academy and restructuring of middle schools, because more decisions about it will provide a way to make those reforms systemic. • Freedom from many administrative requirements, their schools’ desti- including elimination of out-of-school meetings Schools leaders will have the decision-making power nies, and constantly during the school day, reduced reporting and and resources necessary to ensure that their hard work push to make pro- paperwork, and streamlined communication from has long-term impact. gress.” the Department of Education (DOE). - Joel Klein Klein and Bloomberg clearly recognize that the size of • Ability to select a DOE support team and/or an the New York City school system requires a Chancellor external school support organization rather than New York City governance structure that gives genuine autonomy to reporting to the current hierarchy of local those principals who are willing to be accountable for Public Schools instructional superintendents and regional their job. The Center for Educational Innovation – instructional superintendents. Public Education Association (CEI-PEA) is proud to be working with two Empowerment Schools networks, In exchange for the increased autonomy and resources, and we look forward to helping these schools realize Empowerment Schools are pioneering the school their visionary plans for improving public education. system’s new accountability program, which includes meeting specific performance targets, providing progress reports that include baseline student outcome 28 West 44th Street, Suite 300, New York, NY 10036 Phone: 212.302.8800 Fax: 212.302.0088 Website: www.cei-pea.org The Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association (CEI-PEA) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working for better public education for all children. NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Center for Educational Innovation - Permit No. 219 Public Education Association Doylestown, PA 28 West 44th Street, Suite 300 New York, NY 10036-6600 The Center for Educational Innovation – Public Education Association (CEI-PEA) is a New York-based nonprofit organization that creates successful public schools and educa- tional programs. Our staff of experienced leaders in public education provides hands-on sup- port to improve the skills of teachers and school leaders, increase parent involvement, and channel cultural and academic enrichment programs into schools. The benefits of this hands- on support are multiplied through a network of more than 220 public schools in New York as well as work in other major urban school systems across the country and around the world. We operate in cooperation with, but independently of, public school systems, provid- ing private citizens the opportunity to make wise investments in the public schools.