Empowerment Schools – a simple solution

Patrick Gibbons

School districts in Clark and Douglas counties are experimenting with a new type of public school called “empowerment schools.” The concept is so simple you’ll wonder why public education hasn’t been run this way all along.

Instead of all-knowing bureaucrats in the central office deciding where resources are needed at individual schools and then assigning teachers, text books and supplies, empowerment schools receive money for each enrolling child. Then the schools decide for themselves how best to spend that money to educate their students.

Basically, think of empowerment schools as small entrepreneurial businesses focused on finding the best way to educate the kids in front of them – and traditional public schools as order-following outposts of a centrally directed command economy, as in the former USSR.

It will be a few years before we get some accurate and meaningful data on how well empowerment schools perform but initial results are promising. A Clark County School District survey in 2007 revealed that parents, teachers and students at the four original empowerment schools were all far more likely to feel positive about the school and its learning environment.

Check out NPRI’s full article on empowerment school results. Or turn to this article, which provides a bit more detail about how empowerment schools operate.