Governance Challenges to Innovators within the System
Michelle Davis
Rethinking Education Governance in the Twenty-First Century Conference
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Center for American Progress
December 2011


This paper collects voices from the field—both from the K-12 district level and from the state perspective—about how various forms of governance go from theory to reality and the effect these structures have on innovation. It articulates frustrations that school-system superintendents and state education chiefs have with more traditional forms of governance, including the negative influence of politics; the lack of cohesion among pre-K, K-12, and highereducation systems; and the drawbacks of customary per-pupil funding arrangements. The paper highlights benefits of unconventional governance systems already in place and takes a close look at some areas where new structures of oversight are starting to evolve. Finally, the paper gives voice to disappointments with some aspects of unconventional governance structures which aim to improve K-12 systems, but work differently in practical effect than intended.