Thursday, June 27, 2013
Francis X. Shen (Minnesota) challenges the view that citywide referenda alone are an effective means of ensuring accountability for mayoral control of urban school districts. From Professor Shen’s abstract on SSRN:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has encouraged more mayors to take charge of their urban schools districts. Central to debates over mayoral control is the use of a citywide referendum to legitimize mayoral control. Voters in Boston and Cleveland supported mayoral control, while in Detroit voters chose to return to an elected school board. Through new empirical analysis of the referenda results in Boston and Cleveland, the article shows that rather than establish genuine democratic legitimacy, the referenda in fact mask strong class-based, and in Boston, race-based opposition to the reform strategy. Legislatures considering mayoral control would do well to think carefully before adopting a referendum as the only or primary solution to the mayoral control accountability dilemma. A referendum in and of itself is not a satisfactory safeguard to ensure the participation of urban minorities and poor residents in urban education reform discussions.
Omari Scott Simmons (Wake Forest) discusses proprietary schools’ growing impact on higher education and how those schools, fueled by federal financial aid, disproportionately impact vulnerable student populations. From Professor Simmons’s SSRN abstract:
The emergence of For-Profit Colleges and Universities (FPCUs) presents an interesting paradox: FPCUs, rather than traditional non-profit and public institutions, are becoming a de facto path for many vulnerable students: low socioeconomic-status students, underrepresented minorities, first generation college students, non-traditional adult students, and veterans. Federal government funding has accelerated the migration of vulnerable students to FPCUs. This migration reveals a shortcoming associated with portable financial aid in the existing regulatory environment: ill-informed vulnerable students selecting educational options that differentially empower them. Although FPCUs provide access to vulnerable student populations, the existing regulatory framework, when combined with market forces, does not at present, adequately protect federal dollars, students, or address broader societal issues, such as higher education stratification.