ERIC Number: ED322578
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
School Reforms Can Reproduce Societal Inequalities.
Scheurich, James Joseph; Imber, Michael
Because the ultimate power to control school reform is in the hands of the superintendent or some other similarly positioned administrator, the reforms tend to benefit some student or constituency groups more than others. Judging from the personal characteristics of most superintendents and the political context of the superintendency itself, it can be concluded that superintendents are limited in their understanding of the needs and interests of significant segments of the community, specifically their least powerful constituents. Even if superintendents do attempt to serve the whole community, it is highly improbable that they will succeed, due to the political position of public schools. Results of the reorganization of Johnsonville School District, located within a small western city that was experiencing considerable growth in the middle- and upper middle-class suburban areas, are consistent with observations of the powerful influence of community elites over local public policy. Had the Johnsonville School reform effort proceeded (as initially announced) in accordance with the principles of critical pluralism, a shared decisionmaking process where power--not just the opportunity to participate--is equally distributed, the benefits of the reorganization would have been more evenly distributed among the community's constituents. (52 references) (KM)
Descriptors: Administrative Organization, Citizen Participation, Community Control, Community Influence, Educational Change, Elementary Secondary Education, Participative Decision Making, Political Influences, Politics of Education, Power Structure, Public Schools, School Community Relationship, School District Reorganization, Superintendents
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 16-20, 1990).