Mayors Rule The Schools

In an attempt to reverse the decline in public education, city hall tries its own solutions

The reforms came abruptly, grabbing attention like fingernails scratching a chalkboard. As Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer stepped into his new role as czar of the city's public schools last week, he began the dirty work of dismantling one of the nation's most ineffectual public bureaucracies. Armed with a new state law giving him authority over the city's 265 public schools, Archer swiftly demoted the city's elected school-board members to unpaid advisers and stripped them of such perks as corporate credit cards, cell phones, pagers and even office keys. He suspended all new employment contracts. And he turned the current schools superintendent...

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