Education: Power to The Classroom!

Self-managed schools are all the rage, but so far the reviews are mixed

Joseph Fernandez, who has just completed his first semester as New York City's schools chancellor, is often compared with Mikhail Gorbachev. Like the Soviet President, Fernandez is using a combination of personal charm and high- handedness to reform a system nearly paralyzed by its own plethoric bureaucracy. Fernandez's brand of perestroika is called "school-based management," a system that allows those closest to the classroom to oversee budgets and set curriculums largely free of centralized control. "The idea is to give schools more latitude," says the chancellor, "because generally they will make better decisions than we will."

Having pushed that approach in...

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