The Minnesota Legislature has figured
out a way to get into compliance with "No Child Left Behind" with respect to changes in governance for poor performing schools.
Statute 123b.04 enables school districts to decentralize their schools along the lines advocated by David Jennings, basically
charterizing most or all of the schools, with some administrative and oversight functions being reserved by the district.
Bylaws for the Self-governing schools may include giving school principals broad powers to hire (with site council
approval), fire, and reassign teachers. With a pay-for-performance scheme in place, a principal might well be the head of
a clique of teachers who run the school and are better paid, get their choice of teaching assignments, etc. In other words,
conditions that motivated teachers to unionize in the first place will be re-created.
The level of autonomy enjoyed
by each school site would also open the door to the negotiation of separate contracts between the district and teachers at
each site. That would strip the union of most of the power it currently has to protect the rights and living standards of
teachers. The union would be even more like a company union than it has been in recent years.
Implementation of No
Child Left Behind has focused on changes in school governance and labor relations that had already commenced during the Clinton
administration, e.g., charterizing and decentralizing schools, enhancement of management rights, chipping away at the seniority
and tenure rights of teachers.
On the other hand, very little has been done to implement provisions of NCLB that would
actually help to close achievement gaps between racial groups, and between low and high income students within the public
school system, such as equalization of school facilities with respect to critical educational inputs, including teacher expertise.
Yet closing those gaps is NCLB's strategic goal - toward which no progress has been made in the past 5 years. NCLB set 2014
are the target date for the total elimination of racial and other achievement gaps.