Public Schools: Who's in Charge?

Hallowed tradition gives American parents enormous influence on their schools — and on the people hired to run them. Swallowing hard, most school superintendents would say that by and large this state of affairs works to the general satisfaction of both. But there are some glaring exceptions, where the violence of dispute between school board and school boss has split communities, demoralized teachers and distracted students.

Cleveland School Superintendent William Levenson recently resigned in anger after the school-board president took a policy squabble to the newspapers. Chicago's strong-minded Benjamin Willis quit when the...

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