Control of American public schools has an increasing top-down flavor. School districts, mostly urban with lower-income students of color, are labeled “failing,” and the state or a big-city mayor takes control.
Under Education Commissioner Chris Cerf and Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey has opted for state control. They reject inconclusiveness and local participation in formulating reforms and operating urban schools, perhaps because they seem determined to use them as their educational sand boxes.
State educational intervention in New Jersey long predates Cerf and Christie, however. In 1989, it was the first state to take control of a major urban district, Jersey City.