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The System

The Power Inquiry

This Inquiry was set up by the Joseph Rowntree Trust in 2004 to mark its centenary.

It established a Commission under the chair of Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, to investigate why the decline in popular participation and involvement in formal politics has occurred, to provide concrete and innovative proposals to reverse the trend and to explore how public participation and involvement can be increased and deepened. Its work was based on the primary belief that a healthy democracy requires the active participation of its citizens. It is completely independent of any political party or organisation. It works across the political spectrum and, most importantly, with people who feel that the political parties do not represent them anymore.

The Commission published its final report, Power to the People, in February 2006. The report outlined 30 recommendations for change, but most importantly it argues that there is a need for a re-balancing of power between the Executive and Parliament, between Central and Local Government and between the Citizen and the State.

From Leadership by Rudolph Giuliani

The New York City school system was never really going to improve until its purpose, its core mission, was made clear. What the system should have been about was educating its million children as well as possible. Instead, it existed to provide jobs for the people who worked in it, and to preserve those jobs regardless of performance. That’s not to say that there weren’t committed professionals at every level within the system. There were, and that’s the shame of it. Those with their hearts in the right place were the ones who suffered most.

Until I could get everyone involved to sit together and agree that the system existed to educate children, fixing little bits of it was symbolic at best. Band-Aid solutions can do more harm than good. The system needed a new philosophy. It needed to say we’re not a job protection system but a system at its core about children’s enrichment. All rewards and risks must flow from the performance of the children. If you took a broken system and repaired just enough so that it could limp along, you lessened the chance that a real and lasting s lution could be reached.

That’s why I resist partial control over a project. The schools should be made into a mayoral agency—like the Administration for Children’s Services or the Fire Department— so the city can enact real solutions.