I never intended to get into the District of Columbia Public Schools reorganization mess to the extent I have. The more I learned, the more I thought that Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s strategy, and Mayor Adrian Fenty’s support, offered a great opportunity to explore school district management. There’s something important to be learned out on the bleeding edge.

When the stakes are perhaps several decades of expenses associated with the education of every Texas preschooler, prudent decision makers should establish a timetable of and conditions for “go/no go” decisions.

There are many routes to competitive advantage in a fragmented market but, if fragmentation is structural, consolidation is not one. Providers will need to develop coping strategies, accept sub-par returns, or exit.

Each school may apply for up to $1,000 per classroom teacher and one principal or assistant principal per school for physical education professional development not to exceed $30,000 per school....

Apparently the purchasing office decided the work could not be justified as a sole source contract, and so constructed this erstaz competition.

An in-depth response to reader comments on my December 13 posting.

Both Edison and K12 opened at $18 per share, but investors were more enthusiastic in 1999. Edison raised $122.5 million to K12’s $108 million. Edison went from an $18 IPO to a penny stock in less than five years. While Edison founder Chris Whittle moved on, small investors lost their equity when the firm went private in 2003. Caveat emptor!

The strategy pursued by Fenty and Rhee is not in the best interests of the school improvement industry because centralization with a corporate face will favor firms with the scale required to support large one-size-fits-all district-wide school contracts and a few people with ties to the Chancellor.

Last week‘s letter concluded that the school improvement industry is fragmented for most of the reasons identified by Prof. Porter in Competitive Strategy (1980); not merely the “newness” that goes with emergence. This week's reviews the prospects for industry consolidation.

For the school improvement provider seeking international work, this RFP seems like an ideal first step.


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