Eight Principles for 'Total Quality' Schools

Article excerpt

In June, 1991, from a video screen in the Galleria Marriot in Houston, Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the American who came up with the Japanese theory of management, asked 700 individuals in middle-management the question "How are we doing?" He then answered his own question with "We are not doing well." He does not blame America's inferior production on drugs, the Japanese, or politics. He attributes the decline to "simple bad management."

In order to turn this business decline around, Deming advocated the ideas that the Japanese adopted after World War II which turned that country into an economic giant. The concepts developed and recommended by Deming are the core of Total Quality Management (TQM)(Cook 1991; Idhammar 1992; Kline 1992; Walker 1993).

The TQM philosophy emphasizes satisfying customer requirements, specifications, and expectations the first time and every time. It is an organized, methodical process for creating system-wide participation in planning and implementing continuous improvements in quality. There are notable monetary savings, improved morale, faster turnaround time, and improved customer service (Kline 1992).

Today, United States businesses are embracing the TQM principles of meeting customer needs, empowering employees, and establishing valid measures of success. There has been a broad-based and continuing effort to drive excellence to new heights. Motorola Inc. IBM Corp., Xerox Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Co. are a few of the corporations that have raised their standard of commitment to customer satisfaction.

The management process of bringing together resources to create products and services is adaptable to the principles for improvement in education. The following is an interpretation of eight principles used in the business world today to aid in TQM. Education, like business, has the need for implementing excellence and continuous improvement into a program of reality.

Customer-driven = Student, Parent, and Community Participation

One of the main thrust of TQM is meeting customer requirements and needs. The caliber of the operation is specified and evaluated from understanding the customers needs and viewpoints (Shores 1992; Teresko 1991).

Methodology of business and education parallels in that foundations for programs are based upon the human factor. In the business world, customer-driven needs and desires lead to continuous improvement. In the public schools, a community is made of active participants involving students, teachers, principals, parents/guardians, businesses and other constituents who need to be unified to promote the best possible education for all.

For better effectiveness, students need to adopt the role of active participants in the learning process. The role of the teacher needs not only to be that of a deliverer of information, but also one of a facilitator and researcher who is constantly determining the effectiveness of teaching methods. Effective principals will adopt the functions of being instructional leaders, meeting with teams of teachers, and offering support to improve schools.

Parents/guardians can no longer sit idly and watch the educational process pass them by, but rather should become active participants in the learning process as volunteers, tutors, and learners themselves. Parental involvement can become complex because it requires consensus building, sharing of control, and dividing responsibility (Coleman 1991). However, in surveying research on parent involvement, it was found that students increased their academic achievement when parents were involved (i.e.: Beeher 1984; Clark 1983; Epstein 1987); teachers became more skillful in their professional activities, were able to devote more time to actual teaching, and acquired a more student-centered approach to their teaching (Becher 1984); and schools were more effective and furnished a stronger educational foundation (Coleman 1991).

Business knows the importance of commitment to partnership between them and their customer at the highest level. …