Local Politics and Portfolio Management Models: National Reform Ideas and Local Control

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Amid the growth of charter schools, autonomous schools, and private management organizations, an increasing number of urban districts are moving toward a portfolio management model (PMM). In a PMM, the district central office oversees schools that operate under a variety of governance models. The expansion of PMMs raises questions about local control, as new national and local organizations become increasingly central players in the design and delivery of public education and educational systems. Looking across 10 distinct localities, this paper explores the variations in the role of local, state, and national actors in the initiation of PMMs and the provision of education within them. We find that the relationship between PMM reforms and issues of local control is a complicated one mediated by local contexts, including local civic and provider capacity, available resources, and issues of governance.



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