(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
I’ve been hearing through the grapevine for a long time that Denver’s much ballyhooed portfolio strategy was in deep trouble. Robin Lake calls it out today in Denver’s Storied Portfolio District is Starting to Act Like Just Another City School System.
It might be more useful to think of this as: the Denver district has acted like just another city school system for almost its entire history, flirted with the idea of being something different, but then yielded to political gravity in an entirely predictable fashion.
Clayton Christensen explained years ago that organizations don’t disrupt themselves. Mainframe computer manufacturers did not deftly transition to making personal computers rather than die- they just died. Every other brand in General Motors took every opportunity to slip their knives into Saturn’s back- sure enough GM eventually squandered an enormous amount of public goodwill for Saturn before it eventually died. School districts don’t willingly hand over empty buildings to outside operators. All of this falls somewhere on the water is wet, objects fall to the ground, you don’t fight a land war in Asia spectrum of the self-evident.
Jay noted years ago that you can call your district Superintendent a “harbor master” but in the end it is a tomatO tomAto exercise, especially if they are still hired and fired by boards elected in single digit turnout elections dominated by incumbent interests. Building new rather than attempting to reform the old remains the best strategy.