Blog Post: Reducing mandates, redundancies & burdens on school districts
Last month, I was sitting in the Educational Success Task Force subgroup meeting listening to a Colorado superintendent talk about the impact of state budget cuts and increased mandates on people in the field. She described an overall feeling that more legislation or mandates might break an already fragile education system. Many, including myself, were sympathetic. Interestingly, the conversation evolved into the following discussion:how can burdens on school districts and schools be reduced? Are there redundancies in the system and policy and regulatory hurdles that can be streamlined or removed to “free up” people to do their jobs?
A quick Google search revealed that in recent years, there have been some efforts to identify, for example, redundant data reporting requirements at the Colorado Department of Education. In 2009, the Education Data Advisory Committee issued a report to the legislature called: “Duplicative, Obsolete, Redundant, and Inefficient Reporting Requirements." This type of analysis should be conducted more broadly. In this era of tight resources and a quest for system efficiencies, it would be a wonderful undertaking for a group of organizations to survey their members and identify concrete and specific policies/regulations that may be redundant, overly bureaucratic, archaic or otherwise unnecessary. What a gift it would be for state policy leaders to clean up the books and clear the pathway for people to focus on educating kids without the headaches of system inefficiencies. Certainly, it would be ideal if this could be extended to the federal level as well, but as a starting point, the work should begin at the state.
It also begs the question, why don’t districts ask the state for waivers or go down the path of becoming innovation districts? Certainly these avenues would provide some immediate freedom from some of the mandates and bureaucratic requirements that aren’t contributing to student outcomes. It would be quite impactful to see a report with substantive lists and ideas about what could be taken “off the books.” Suggestions are welcome.