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ERIC Number: ED411106
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov-8
Pages: 15
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Tragic Flaw of Educational Administration.
McCormack, Maureen
This essay presents an ethnographer's thoughts on the failure of educational reform following a 4-month observation of a school superintendent and her staff. The educational reform involved implementation of Sizer's model--the Coalition for Essential Schools--in a small, progressive, wealthy school district. The district consisted of a K-12 school serving approximately 300 students with 27 staff. With very high per-pupil funding, the school had a principal and a superintendent, advanced technology in all classes, and a large budget for in-service activities. Commitment to the Coalition for Essential Schools model means commitment to democratic reform. However, the superintendent held to the traditional authoritarian structure, even though smallness offered a unique opportunity for democratic community organization. Ethnographic analysis suggested that hubris was the tragic flaw preventing reform. Hubris prevents an individual from entertaining information that is unflattering or critical and lessens empathic involvement with others. A brief review of the early history of professional school administration reveals a defensive response to public criticism, foundations in industrial management that were antithetical to democratic ideals, and a belief in the expertise of administrators as superior to that of teachers. The administrator under observation lashed out at teachers that resisted her goals, dismissed a consultant that advised respect for teachers, and avoided or misinterpreted literature dealing with democratic reforms. Concluding thoughts reflect on the role of moral authority in leadership and the future of educational leadership as a profession. (SV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A