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					                                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.
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         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.

				
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