ERIC Number: ED342049
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
Minnesota Superintendents' Perceptions of Their Role and Influence in School Board Agenda Setting.
Carpenter, DeeDee Currier
This study of the school board agenda-setting role among 30 Minnesota superintendents interprets their perceptions in relation to environmental contexts, group demands, issues control, and district enrollment size. A microperspective of David Easton's political systems model provided the guiding conceptual framework. Respondents were interviewed using the same interview guide over a 2-month period. Superintendents perceived their political influence as having three foci: the power of their role in agenda setting and the existence of coalitions. A vast majority viewed themselves as responsible "gatekeepers." Overwhelmingly, superintendents interpreted their agenda-setting role as more important than that of the board chair or total board. The grounded theory that emerged from the study consists of 10 major themes, among them that agenda setting: (1) legitimizes districts' and boards' authority, (2) fosters school governance in a political system, and (3) structures district ideology. The superintendent's role, which is ascriptive, behavioral, and powerful, results from expertise. Perceived relationships between role and influence vary by district size. Gatekeeping and informed influence characterize superintendents from medium-size districts; democratic perceptions and strategic influence typify those from large districts. Findings position issues closely to the superintendent and recognize contextual and group constraints. Recommended research includes comparative case studies and longitudinal research. This study suggests including agenda setting in the educational administration curriculum and standardizing board meeting terminology to facilitate communication. A six-page bibliography is appended. (CJH)
Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes, Administrator Role, Agenda Setting, Board of Education Policy, Decision Making, Elementary Secondary Education, Governance, Interviews, Leadership, Political Influences, Politics of Education, Power Structure, Research Needs, Role Perception, School District Size, School Districts, Social Science Research, Superintendents, Systems Analysis
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers; Administrators; Policymakers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Easton (David); Minnesota
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of School Administrators (New Orleans, LA, February 20-23, 1987). Adapted from a Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota. Some pages contain light print.