Opinion/Steiny: Empowering leadership would help state takeovers of schools succeed

Providence Journal

State takeovers don’t work.  

Researchers at Brown University’s Annenberg Institute examined takeovers starting in the late 1980s using 5 sources of data, including the NAEPs.  Their conclusion:  “Overall, we find no evidence that state takeover improves academic achievement.”

Still, school/district takeovers have become more frequent, including the recent near-takeover of Boston’s schools resulting from a highly critical review.  In 2019 Rhode Island’s Department of Education (RIDE) took control of the Providence Public School District (PPSD) after our even more painful Johns Hopkins report.  

If Rhode Island is typical, the reason takeovers can’t work is because they only change the titular authority, not the stifling circumstances in which schools’ problems fester. 

For 26 years, from the 1993 PRObe report to the 2019 Johns Hopkins report, PPSD’s circumstances hardly changed.  Both reports cover distressingly similar territory; both cite the teachers contract as not the only, but the biggest obstacle to student success.  


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