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New School Reform and Community Development


Parents and members of the public now sit on local decision-making committees that determine instructional materials, budgetary expenditures, personnel, building use and planning, disciplinary procedures, staff professional development, school programs, and technology use. The participation of this community has led to fundamental changes in the school community. As leaders of change, we have learned that updating systems, policies, and structures will energize the community and help change practices at the school level. In addition, our adaptive learning culture attracts and develops new parents and community leaders who can continue to work to communicate and manage change.

 Our hope for continuous improvement in student achievement

 is based on the belief that contact with the voices of parents, community members, teachers and students will ensure that this generation of students will achieve the high standards that will make them successful in the first century of the twentieth century. Successful high-performing schools have certain recognizable characteristics that contribute to their success. These include high standards, adequate staff supported by significant professional development, school management system  resources, and community and parent involvement. So, if we know what a school does, why do some schools have it and others don’t? Answer: Leadership. There is a need for time-limited leaders in many areas of public life, and especially in our public schools. Although I am not a good scientist, I understood what a good leader is.

Effective public school leaders, including parents, are risk averse.

 For those of us who struggle to find support and improve public schools, these people who are constantly taking risks are not ruthless. Where civic activism takes place around public schools, communities are most often opposed to dangerous leaders who are willing to advocate for public education. This means more than opposing the status quo; it means offering the best schools a new vision and a new path. The development of leadership roles in corporate America offers some interesting and promising lessons for public school activists. One study from the early 1980s looked at leadership in terms of “members” rather than the leaders themselves. The main idea was that if you could understand why people follow certain leaders, then you could teach those leadership qualities to others. I believe these traits and tactics apply to public school activists, whether they be parents, community leaders, or educators themselves. There are five steps leaders must take. We also call on district leaders, school board members, principals and teachers to adopt the ideal of leadership for change in schools. Consider the implications for school improvement and civic engagement:

  1. Challenge the process. a. Look for opportunities. b. Experiment and take risks.
  2. Inspire a shared vision. a. Look to the future. b. Recruitment of others.
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III. Let others take action. a. Encourage collaboration. b. Strengthen others.

  1. Model the path. a. Give an example. b. Small Talent Plan.
  2. Stimulate the heart. a. Define an individual contribution. b. Celebrate achievements.

I bet there are a lot of people and organizations that are celebrating significant accomplishments because there was a leader among them who initially tried to “challenge the process.” As part of our ongoing efforts to track and analyze emerging trends, key lessons and findings, and common themes, we cover news of exciting work being done in schools and communities across the country.

Expanding the dialogue about school change is challenging, especially when communities do not have a history of bringing different stakeholder groups together for such dialogue and action. Parents and caregivers are working together to school bus tracking in education and other key areas.

What makes a quality public school?

  1. College and career readiness.

A quality public school should produce high school students who are ready for college and careers.

  1. High expectations for all students

High quality public schools recognize that all students can learn and provide the tools, support and connections.

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