ERIC Number: ED316373
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Jul-31
Reference Count: N/A
Democratic Participation in Small-Town Schools.
Schmuck, Patricia A.; Schmuck, Richard A.
Using first-hand material collected by interview and observation during a 160-day trip around 21 states, this report describes the current situation of democratic participation in small-town schools. The small-town school is like a vortex drawing everyone into its activities and serving as a foundation for the community's social and cultural lives. Although student participation in small-town school extracurricular activities was high, students rarely expressed enthusiasm for their schoolwork and student leaders felt they had very little influence on how their schools operate. No student council was found to be a player in any aspect of school life except social events. A lack of communication between administrators and teachers was also found; teachers did not feel that their superintendents were accessible or thus their ideas and feelings were often heard by their principals; formed meetings in particular were ineffective in resolving problems. Many male administrators had been coaches and conceived of communication and teamwork as unidirectional and hierarchical. Teachers, 75% women, were frustrated at faculty meetings, yet were not telling their administrators about their feelings. Teachers also complained that they as a group were under unreasonable attacks, both nationally and statewide. Informal interaction among teachers seemed to be satisfactory, but formal collegial collaboration was infrequent. Regarding the interactions of teachers with students, small-town kindergartens were reported to be operating better than schools. About 80% of observed interactions involved teacher's unidirectional lecturing. Another serious problem is economic; the small-town school is seriouslyjeopardized by worsening economic conditions in the towns. Perhaps the absence of collaboration and cooperation in small-town schools may be understood by considering the overload carried by administrators and teachers. It is concluded that renewal of small-town schools requires renewal and reinvigoration of the educators, an increased sence of commitment to the academic side of schooling by the parents, and more avenues of influence for the students. As regards economic and structural problems these will not be resolved without state and federal assistance. (GGH)
Descriptors: Educational Environment, Elementary Secondary Education, Organizational Communication, Participative Decision Making, Rural Schools, School Community Relationship, School Role, School Surveys, Student Participation, Student School Relationship, Teacher Administrator Relationship, Teacher Participation
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A