Amprey's plan

March 30, 1992

In unveiling a reorganization plan for city schools, Superintendent Walter G. Amprey joined a parade of eight consecutive superintendents with ideas for making the bureaucracy more efficient. His plan is not unlike the 1973 decentralization scheme of the late Roland N. Patterson, though Dr. Amprey's is less elaborate and costly. Dr. Patterson (whose plan was gradually unraveled by three successors) wanted, and Dr. Amprey wants, to move decision-making closer to where education actually takes place -- in the classroom.

It's a commendable idea. For most of this half-century, power in city schools has flowed from the top down, and too many people near the top haven't been up to the job. But having schools answer to regional offices instead of North Avenue may not solve the problem. If it doesn't represent a genuine sharing of power, if it does nothing for principals and teachers, it is a useless change.

Dr. Amprey talks as though he means it. He says the crucial task in making the plan succeed will be choosing those to fill the boxes he's created. If he selects strong, caring, competent people, perhaps his successor won't find a need to reorganize.

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