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Competition and School Leader Strategy

Huriya Jabbar, Research Associate with Era-New Orleans

Date & Time
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
12:00–1:00 pm
Tulane Medical School Building
1555 Poydras St., 7th Floor
New Orleans LA 70112 Map and directions

One of the pri­ma­ry aims of char­ter school poli­cies is to intro­duce com­pe­ti­tion between all pub­lic schools. When par­ents can choose where to send their chil­dren to school, this cre­ates pres­sure on schools to attract and retain stu­dents. School lead­ers are expect­ed to respond to these mar­ket pres­sures by work­ing to improve effi­cien­cy and the effec­tive­ness of instruc­tion. Choice is thus intend­ed to be a tide that lifts all boats,” ben­e­fit­ing not only the stu­dents who chose their schools, but also all the oth­er stu­dents in the dis­trict, through com­pe­ti­tion. But do school lead­ers in New Orleans rec­og­nize these mar­ket pres­sures? And what strate­gies do they employ in response? In oth­er words, how does com­pe­ti­tion work in prac­tice? This paper draws on qual­i­ta­tive data (inter­views, obser­va­tions, and doc­u­ments) from 30 schools, includ­ing direct-run and char­ter. It describe the aca­d­e­m­ic, extracur­ric­u­lar, and oper­a­tional strate­gies school lead­ers used. Their strate­gies ranged from improv­ing school qual­i­ty and effi­cien­cy to cream skim­ming, with mar­ket­ing being the most com­mon. This paper also explore how their spe­cif­ic school con­texts influ­enced the types of strate­gies they employed.

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