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Command and Control Management at APS

It’s a general rule of thumb now in businesses that a command and control managerial style from the top down is not the best approach – especially for a large business. Instead, you should hire the best people to operate each business unit and then hold them accountable for performance (i.e. failure to deliver leads to job loss).

Unfortunately, it looks like Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is about to go the command and control route:

If the rest of the new superintendent’s plans come to pass, the district’s central office will have more control over everything from the number of custodians a school gets to the type of reading curricula it may use. And on Wednesday, the board approved a new policy that requires “all major technology related projects” to be approved by the superintendent.

“Site-based management, and APS does a lot of site-based management, is not efficient,” said Winston Brooks, who served his first official day last week as the district’s new superintendent.

Some longtime principals say the added authority they’ve enjoyed under site-based management has paid dividends for their schools.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with Superintendent Brooks dismantling a layer of management by doing away with the cluster system. Nor, do I find his commitment to cutting unnecessary costs troubling. However, I’ve been in around school systems enough as a parent, as a teacher and as an educational partner to know that high performance schools occur because of creativity and commitment at the classroom, administrative and local community level.

Superintendent Brooks recent actions seem to indicate that he believes otherwise. If that’s the case, it’s going to be business as usual at APS – new edicts and directions without improvements in student performance.