During this past two decades of “reform,” there has been a concerted effort to minimize or eliminate democratic control of public schools. Egged on by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, states and districts initiated state takeovers of entire school districts, which typically failed, and mayoral control, which substituted the singular judgment of the mayor for elected school boards. John Chubb and Terry Moe wrote a book in 1990, “Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools,” in which they argued that school choice was a panacea, and that democracy was the most essential obstacle to achieving that nirvana.

In this article, posted at Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet,” Carol Burris and I argue that governance matters, and that democratic governance is a fundamental tenet of public education.

We have learned from the repeated errors of state takeovers and mayoral control, as well as charter school failures and voucher scams, that democratic accountability is essential to public education. The schools belong to the public, and they must not be handed off to grifters, celebrities, religious groups, or corporate charter chains.

Governance matters.

This is our article: