Successful decentralization - especially of large, complex districts with entrenched bureaucracies - does notoccur without strong incentives and sustained support. The kinds of incentives and support that have been provided are as diverse as the settings in which decentralization is taking place. Forexample, in the state of Washington, the Legislature adopted a bill that allows selected schools to restructure. The legislation covers such matters as the focus for restructuring, collaboration, evaluation, and procedures for seeking waivers from state regulations. In Maine, grants were awarded to schools to support their restructuring efforts. The Indiana 2000 program, authorized by the 1991 General Assembly, allows schools to develop a proposal which shows their commitment to and vision of restructuring along with a plan to bring life to this vision. Teachers, administrators, parents, and community members create the vision. At the district level, Dade County, FL, offered pilot schools the opportunity to form school-site committees empowered to develop plans for change. In New York City, the chancellor allows schools to restructure if the principal and 75 percent of the teachers decide to do so; schools that do choose restructuring receive flexible Chapter 1 dollars. In Des Moines, extensive professional development activities for district administrators - including three-day workshops on "Tools for Leadership" and "Effective Schools" - support decentralization. Des Moines teachers also have professional development opportunities through which they can earn credit. Indianapolis' business community and the mayor are actively involved in a massive strategic planning process supporting site-based decision-making. As these examples illustrate, states and districts encourage restructuring through incentives that provide both stimuli and boundaries within which individual schools can chart a meaningful course for change.
Posted on April 26, 1995