Perhaps the reason the same fixes appear over and over again in education reform is because of collective amnesia. The answer to the question “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” should be “I’ll bet someone has thought of this before, tried it, and discovered it didn’t work.”
All of which is the long way around to the news that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Education Reform Commission is proposing an idea to reduce administrative overhead and achieve economies of scale in school district operations. The solution… wait for it… school district consolidation!
If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ll know that this is one of those rare issues upon which most teachers’ unions and I agree. In fact, New York State United Teachers did its homework on district consolidation in 2009, back when the idea was being championed by the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. The union examined the research, which was pretty categorical the last time I checked, and predictably found “the savings just aren’t there.”
Whatever savings a merged school district realizes from economies of scale are overcome by expansionist tendencies. The larger it gets, the larger it gets.