The Annals of Not-So-Nutty Nutty Ideas

Rick Hess argued yesterday for creating bonds for turnaround.  He explains it thusly:

School officials remain skeptical of turning over low-performing schools to outside providers even when the district is flailing and those providers have the ability to drive cost-effective improvement … To help mitigate these concerns, operators seeking to turn around low-performing schools would post a bond against specified performance goals. Whereas the only consequence for a failed charter school today is possible school closure, turnaround bonds would force providers–just like firms bidding to build capital projects like highways or bridges–to put up a cash guarantee of satisfactory performance.

This is way better than the idea I had about five years ago for an academic achievement futures market!*

Rick goes on to delineate and subsequently address the challenges inherent here.  The notion that outside providers should be accountable for academic performance is sound.  This needs to be enforced by contract, irrespective of financial risk.  But we need to get away from the notion that using outside providers is tantamount to “turning over low-performing schools.”  Unless districts retain the right sense of accountability and partnership when dealing with chronically under-performing schools, there’s too much potential to play the blame game if things get rocky.  I’m almost sure, though, that Rick didn’t intend to imply that using an outside provider involves the public system’s shirking of its responsibility.  There’s no silver bullet for turning around a failing school, and until there is, school systems need all the help they can get.  Using outside providers shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment or offloading of responsibility, but rather as a sign of heightened awareness of the complexity of the work.

*The idea included a stringently enforced ban on short selling.

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One Response to The Annals of Not-So-Nutty Nutty Ideas

  1. Pingback: Really Interesting Stuff « Meeting the Turnaround Challenge

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