ERIC Number: ED494201
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Oct
Redefining and Improving School District Governance
Plecki, Margaret L.; McCleery, Julie; Knapp, Michael S.
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy
This report is one of a series produced by a research team at the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, a national research consortium home-based at the University of Washington. The reports are intended to clarify each leadership issue, while assembling what is known from empirical studies. The information in these reports lays the groundwork for further study and practical experimentation by leaders and reformers in states, districts, and schools. This report focuses on improving governance by taking a close look at local school boards--an enduring feature of public education governance. Using published accounts in the research literature, the paper synthesizes the frameworks, beliefs, and activities concerning the roles and responsibilities of the district school board. Using three common critiques of modern school boards as a guide, the paper further identifies the underlying currents of governance reform, conditions that influence governance structure, and the connections between governance and learning-focused leadership. Specifically, this paper synthesizes and interprets ideas, frameworks, beliefs, and activities concerning the roles and responsibilities of the district school board, the issues confronting its effectiveness, and the strategies that have been undertaken to improve the board's effectiveness. The paper is based largely on published accounts in the research literature and also descriptive material concerning current or emerging practices. Following a brief introduction to the concerns about this leadership issue, the authors review the evolution of modern school boards and note briefly how concerns about the functioning of school boards have prompted a search for better governance arrangements, especially in urban districts. Then the paper takes a closer look at the "crisis of governance" by examining three common critiques of modern school boards to identify the underlying currents of reform and other conditions that influence how governance is structured and shapes what it can do. These criticisms provide insight into not only the problems with school boards but also the context in which they operate and the enduring dilemmas from which the critiques stem. Following that, the paper notes key dimensions of the governance restructuring challenge that underlie current and emerging attempts to create more satisfactory arrangements. A number of these strategies are reviewed. The paper concludes by noting some unanswered questions that future experimentation and research will need to answer, alongside several other issues that research cannot ever answer. (Contains 3 tables and 3 figures.) [This publication was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation.]
Descriptors: School Districts, Governance, Boards of Education, Public Education, Instructional Leadership, Educational Change, Criticism
Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy (CTP). University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195-3600. Tel: 206-221-4114; Fax: 206-616-8158; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.ctpweb.org
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, Seattle, WA.