Networks and Schools
Looking at the spider's web, we can generalize about the possible linkages that schools might make and how other institutions may need to change so that they can accept their share of the responsibility for education. We can also look at some instances in which such linkages are already happening, albeit typically in piecemeal fashion. A holistic approach would be based on a complete diagnosis of a community's specific needs, an on-going series of conversations with key constituents or stakeholders (including school officials), in the schools and a plan for making necessary external linkages in conjunction with a restructuring, indeed a re-engineering, internal to the schools. In short, schools themselves must shape the spider's web within which they will reside.
This chapter, then, will explore the potential leverage points in the linkages that different stakeholders in the educational process have on the systems dynamics of educational performance. In exploring these linkages, we will try to look not only at what currently exists, but also at some examples of what might exist in holistically designed linkages between schools and their constituencies, a set of relationships that can move the systems dynamics from their current negative spiral downward into a more positive upward spiral. These links if established as needed within communities would, it is posited, spread responsibility for children and for education among a wider range of constituencies than currently accepts that responsibility. These links could also help each stakeholder develop a sense of accountability for the results of the educational process, especially if the focus is on improved outcomes and if standards for achieving