Josh McGee and I have an oped in the Houston Chronicle today arguing against state takeovers. Here’s the money quote:
State policymakers may imagine that they are smarter and better than the elected officials they would displace, but, even if they were right, the intelligence and goodness of the school board is hardly the issue. Distant and unaccountable bureaucrats, no matter how well-trained and well-intentioned, are unlikely to understand and address the specific needs of communities as well as locally elected officials are, no matter how fractious and chaotic they may appear. Conservatives have long understood this principle, which is why they have traditionally supported decentralization of responsibility over schools to local governments, communities, and families, so it is puzzling that self-styled conservatives in Texas would support state takeovers.
There is no simple solution to chronic low academic performance, but the problem is almost certainly better addressed by empowering communities and families rather than disenfranchising them.
This is a mistake reformers have made over and over. It’s time we learn from our mistakes and avoid repeating them.