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Study challenges mayoral control of schools

Bloomberg News / October 13, 2010

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NEW YORK — Mayoral control, advocated by politicians pushing to overhaul underperforming school systems, fails to improve student achievement, according to a two-year study.

The research, conducted by the Institute of Education Law and Policy at Rutgers University, looked at improvements in nine education systems where there were changes in how the schools were governed, led by Baltimore, Boston, and New York City. The study will provide guidance to New Jersey policy makers as the state prepares to return schools in Paterson, Newark, and Jersey City to local control after as many as 21 years under state operation, the authors said.

The findings, the subject of a seminar yesterday at the university’s Newark campus, raise questions about Governor Chris Christie’s plans to overhaul the schools in New Jersey’s largest city by putting Mayor Cory Booker in charge, Alan Sadovnik, professor of education, sociology, and public administration and affairs at Rutgers and coauthor of the report, said in a telephone interview.

“Solving Newark’s problems will require more than mayoral control alone,’’ Sadovnik said. “Governance is one part of urban school improvement, which has to include effective school and administrative strategies and a variety of economic, community, and health initiatives at the local level.’’

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc. founder, said on Sept. 24 that he will donate $100 million to Newark’s schools.

Almost half of all students in the district don’t graduate from high school.

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