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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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