Seminar in Public-Sector Structural Change (Public K-12 Education)
The US is in the midst of an intensive restructuring of the governance and management of its public school systems. Staffed by teams of JDs, MBAs and MPAs as well as EdDs, the US Department of Education, state education departments, local school districts and charter maintenance organizations are dismantling longstanding public bureaucracies and associated command-and-control administrative structures, rule- and credentials-based oversight systems, adversarial labor-management arrangements, need-based categorical funding mechanisms, input-oriented conceptions of fairness and equality, and interest-group politics. These are being replaced with new structures designed to promote organizational learning by combining local flexibility with regard to how to solve problems with centrally coordinated accountability, facilitation and knowledge spreading in regard to what counts and what works as solutions. Associated with the new organizations are professionalized and outcomes-focused notions of employee-employer relationships and of fairness and success, funding based on risk-taking and competitive grants, and a (so far mainly aspirational) politics built around collaborative and participatory problem-solving. Whether these changes in the K-12 sector will persist, improve outcomes and provide a model for upgrading the delivery of other public services remains to be seen, but in the meantime they provide a fascinating field of inquiry and learning.
Accompanying this institutional transformation is a growing demand for "skilled generalist" leaders and managers with collections of skills that cut across the professional disciplines of Business, Education, Law, Quantitative Methods, and Policy. Especially in the absence of established classroom-based offerings covering this portfolio of skills, acquiring them presents an appropriate occasion for experiential learning.
This course is intended to introduce interdisciplinary groups of professional students to these changes in how public K-12 organizations are constituted and administered and to the palette of professional skills required by the new organizations' leaders and managers. It will pursue these goals through (1) a seminar in which students study the conceptual, structural, and administrative changes taking place, and (2) a practicum in which students engage in carefully structured and supervised projects on behalf of public-sector entities that are participating in these changes. Starting in 2011-12, this course will be a two-semester, seven-unit offering with students from the Law School and from several other graduate and professional programs. Over time, the seminar will expand from K-12 public education to other areas of public service provision. In order to pilot the course during the Spring 2011 semester, it will begin as a one-semester, three-unit seminar and practicum (students will be registered for 2 units for the seminar plus 1 unit for the practicum/fieldwork) focused on evolving K-12 education systems, with students from the Business and Law Schools and possibly the Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences graduate program.
In the Spring 2011 semester only, the course has as a mandatory pre- or co-requisite Professor Chuck Sabel and Bill Simon's course in Deals: Public-Sector Problem-Solving (L6352).
Using examples drawn from the federal, state and local K-12 education context, the seminar component will focus on institutional design, labor relations and accountability in a world without fixed rules; statistical and qualitative approaches to assessment, diagnostic monitoring and the identification of effective practices; horizontal (site-to-site) distribution of knowledge; flexible product and project management when plans are provisional and revised as they are deployed; and the theory and practice of participatory problem-solving in lieu of interest-group politics. Theoretical and practical tensions to be explored include those between local autonomy and centrally enforced accountability, incentives and learning as disciplining devices, rules and standards, supervision and facilitation, design and implementation, and input- and outcomes-oriented conceptions of fairness and success.
Drawing upon and enhancing the skills of each group of participating students, the professional training component will combine the lawyer's attention to disciplined reasoning and expression, governance in the midst of institutional complexity, processes for agreeing on and documenting new governance structures and plans for creating them that account for cross-functional dependencies and contingencies; the MBA's facility with economic and decisional modeling, incentive structures, strategic planning, business and case analysis, business process, and project and team-based management; and the quantitative methodologist's concern with using error-rates and other systematically observed experience as mechanisms for ad hoc and institutionalized learning.
Student projects work will take place in cross-disciplinary teams of approximately five students under the supervision of the course instructor and with the assistance and administrative support of a full-time project director with substantial content knowledge and management experience in K-12 institutional organization and change. Each team will provide consulting or research support to ongoing institutional-change projects taking place in local, state or not-for-profit school systems that are undergoing or fueling the transformation of the K-12 sector.
Course requirements will include the "deliverables" for the consulting and research projects and a paper reflecting on project methods and outcomes in light of the concepts and tensions discussed in the seminar portion. Course credits will be divided between the seminar and fieldwork components.
Admission to the course is by application, which is due on or before Wednesday November 3, 2010. For information about how to apply, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Section Offerings for 2012-13
|L8016-001||12F||Public Sector Structural Reform in K-12 Education|
|J. Liebman||W 8:15 AM-10:05 AM||GRHL 105|
|L8016-002||12F||Public Sector Structural Reform in K-12 Education-Fieldwork|
|L8016-001||13S||Public-Sector Structural Reform in K-12 Education|
|J. Liebman||M 8:15 AM-10:20 AM||GRHL 105|
|L8016-002||13S||Public-Sector Structural Reform in K-12 Education-Fieldwork|
Choose a section for more information, including section descriptions, faculty, course limitations, syllabi, evaluations, points, writing credit eligibility, evaluation methods, textbooks, and learning outcome goals.