To Run a School: Administrative Organization and Learning

To Run a School: Administrative Organization and Learning

To Run a School: Administrative Organization and Learning

To Run a School: Administrative Organization and Learning

Excerpt

There is a quiet revolution occurring in public education policy. The debate surrounds the issue of how best to go about educating America's youth in the modern (some would say postmodern) world. With the election of Ronald Reagan, U.S. public education policy was introduced to the concept of privatization. The move was largely built on the premise that the less government involvement in the lives of individual denizens the better. The privatization movement was built on ideologically well-prepared soil and the debate that followed was played out on what appears to be fairly stark ideological lines. Public school apologists are generally of the belief that elementary and secondary education is a public good, without which citizens would not be able to participate equally in our democratic institutions. Public education also means the pursuit of equal opportunity in the workforce. Private school advocates make their point on the grounds of economic efficiency, effectiveness, and individual freedom. Privatization scholars have argued repeatedly that public schools waste a tremendous amount of the fiscal resources provided them. Teachers' unions actively grab for larger salaries and better benefits. Most importantly, the privatization scholars argue that the outcome— student performance—is dismal. For these scholars, school choice means freedom to pursue outcomes that are best for each individual; rather than focusing on equal outcomes for the collective.

This book is not an attempt to sort out the question of [Who is correct.] It is impossible to answer the question with empirical analysis because the question is in fact normative, deeply embedded in centuries-old philosophic debate. My main concern at the moment is not to pursue the debate itself, but focus instead on what public school organization tells us about outcomes. I argue that public schools are [open systems] organizations, continually reacting to a changing environment and to evolving internal organizational conditions.

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