Commentary: Indiana Education Reform and Fiscal Stress: Practitioners’ Curiosity

Published date01 September 2014
Date01 September 2014
614 Public Administration Review • September | October 2014
Craig E. Hartzer
Indiana Department of Education
In their article “Local Government Responses to
Fiscal Stress: Evidence from the Public Education
Sector,” Ashlyn Aiko Nelson and Rekha Balu have
made a signif‌i cant contribution to the work of practi-
tioners in the public education setting by explaining
how school districts attempt to deliver world-class
public education services to all students with fewer
resources as a result of the Great Recession. Do school
districts operate as “rational” systems by focusing
on cutting costs and raising revenues as the primary
policy responses to f‌i scal crises? Or do they operate as
more “open” systems by focusing on cutting costs and
raising revenues as policy responses to, for example,
environmental pressures from outside stakeholders
such as unions, business associations, parents, and
legislators? Practitioners like myself are interested in
Nelson and Balu’s research because it helps us better
understand whether school districts use events such
as the recession as reasons to, for example, renegotiate
collective bargaining agreements with teacher unions,
push for no funding cuts or even higher state fund-
ing from legislators worried about the schools in their
district, and inf‌l uence employers demanding better-
prepared students for college and careers.
e cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures used
by school districts discussed in Nelson and Balu’s
article are not surprising to practitioners and leaders
in public education.  e exploration of the revenue-
raising strategies typically utilized by school districts is
Indiana Education Reform and Fiscal Stress:
Practitioners’ Curiosity
Craig E. Harzter is chief of staff for
Superintendent Glenda Ritz at the Indiana
Department of Education. Previously,
he was clinical professor and director of
the Executive Education Program in the
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
at Indiana University. He has more than
21 years of experience as a leader and
manager in local and state government,
including as deputy mayor for South Bend,
Indiana, and policy director for Lieutenant
Governor and then Governor Frank
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 5, pp. 614–615. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12255.

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