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Visions of an improved education environment and processes for achieving these visions as identified by female educational leaders

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Title:
Visions of an improved education environment and processes for achieving these visions as identified by female educational leaders
Creator:
French, Annie Rooney
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 187 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Subjects / Keywords:
Women school administrators -- Attitudes -- United States ( lcsh )
Educational leadership -- United States ( lcsh )
Educational change -- United States ( lcsh )
Education -- Aims and objectives -- United States ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 173-187).
Thesis:
Educational leadership and innovation
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Annie Rooney French.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
47057677 ( OCLC )
ocm47057677
Classification:
LD1190.E3 2000d .F73 ( lcc )

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Full Text
VISIONS OF AN IMPROVED EDUCATION ENVIRONMENT AND
PROCESSES FOR ACHIEVING THESE VISIONS
AS IDENTIFIED BY FEMALE EDUCATIONAL LEADERS
by
Annie Rooney French
BA., College of Staten Island, City University of New York, New York, 1974
MA, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, 1976
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2000


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Annie Rooney French
has been approved
by



l
Sharon Ford
Cherie A. Lyons (J


/
1 //

/
Dian Walster


s3COQ
Date


French, Annie Rooney (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Visions of an Improved Education Environment and the Processes for Achieving
These Visions as Identified by Female Educational Leaders
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Sharon Ford
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the visions of
twenty female, educational leaders regarding changes they envisioned for the
future of education and to inquire about processes they perceived best for
achieving their visions. Females interviewed were primarily school district
administrators in urban, suburban, and rural districts in Colorado. All were
interviewed by telephone.
A strong teaching background influenced most participants' visions. The
creation of supportive learning environments through collaboration, the fostering
of shared beliefs, and the alignment of systems with an initial vision were seen as
necessary foundations for improvement. Participants believed that teachers,
parents, and other community members should fulfill the heaviest responsibilities
in creating and implementing educational improvements.
In order to create and support learning environments envisioned by
participants, they believed that meeting diverse and individual student needs
would be important. Processes for accomplishing this would include setting goals
for and fostering self-development in students and assuring that all students
continually meet high standards and become problem solvers and life-long
learners. The ongoing professional development of teachers and their role in
promoting and assisting with change processes in schools were seen as being
important.
Participants believed that the implementation of their visions would need
to include the establishment of baseline content standards, the utilization of
multiple assessment measures, and the utilization of data in guiding program
changes. Assuring adequate funding for programs, allowing freedom to
experiment with changes on a small scale, and making informed decisions
regarding the chartering and governance of schools were seen as necessary factors
for successful implementation of participants' visions.
in


Overall, females interviewed in the study viewed the future educational
system as becoming increasingly focused on learning rather than teaching,
espousing both masculine and feminine characteristics of leadership and learning
and embracing traditional and progressive philosophies.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed.
Sharon Ford
tv


CONTENTS
Tables........................................................ix
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION................................................1
Background...............................................1
Significance of the Study................................3
Purpose of the Study.....................................5
Theoretical Framework....................................7
Definitions.............................................10
Limitations of the Study................................11
Methodology Rationale and Overview......................11
Overview of the Study...................................13
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction............................................15
Historical Perspective of Education.....................15
Traditional and Progressive Education............18
Twenty Years of Improvement Efforts..............24
The Information Age..............................34


I
Masculine and Feminine Characteristics in
Educational Practices.......................
37
Gender Specific Research Related to
Educational Leadership Practices.................41
Gender Specific Perceptions Concerning
School Improvement...............................49
Summary Discussion of Gender Characteristics.....54
Conclusions.............................................55
3. METHODOLOGY
Introduction................................................58
Design of Interview Questions...............................59
Selection Process...........................................66
Data Collection.............................................72
Pilot Interviews.....................................72
Telephone Interviews.................................72
Analysis of Data............................................73
4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
The Study...................................................78
Introduction................................................79
Changes Envisioned for the Future
of Education................................................81
Creation of Vision...................................81
VI


Foundations
83
Desired Locus of Responsibility.....................93
Processes Perceived as Most Effective
for Achieving Visions.....................................103
Meeting Students Needs............................104
Creating an Optimal Learning Environment...........110
Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers.............114
Implementation.....................................119
Vision Feasibility........................................135
Summary of the Interviews ................................138
5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Summary of the Study......................................140
Discussion of the Findings................................146
Changes Envisioned for the Future of Education....147
Processes for Achieving Visions....................148
Relationship of Findings to the Literature.........149
Interpretations...........................................154
Conclusions...............................................160
Implications..............................................162
Suggestions for Further Study.............................164


APPENDIX
A. INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.......................167
B. LETTER TO SUPERINTENDENTS.................168
C. SUPERINTENDENT RESPONSE CARD..............169
D. LETTER TO FEMALES IDENTIFIED
AS VISIONARY LEADERS IN EDUCATION.........170
E. RESPONSE POSTCARDS FOR PARTICIPANTS.......171
F. CONSENT FORM FOR WOMEN
SELECTED FOR STUDY........................172
REFERENCES
173


TABLES
Table
3.1 Participants of the Study....................................71
4.1 Changes Envisioned for the Future of Education-Foundations...84
4.2 Changes Envisioned for the Future of Education-
Desired Locus of Responsibility................................94
4.3 Processes Perceived as Most Effective for Achieving Visions:
Meeting Students Needs.......................................105
4.4 Processes Perceived as Most Effective for Achieving Visions:
Creating an Optimal Learning Environment......................111
4.5 Processes Perceived as Most Effective for Achieving Visions:
Roles and Responsibilities of Teachers........................115
4.6 Processes Perceived as Most Effective for Achieving Visions:
Implementation...........................................120-121
4.7 Vision Feasibility............................................136
IX


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Education in the United States is experiencing transformation due to a
number of influences, among them a shift from the industrial age to the
information age (Toffler, 1990). Educational leaders have responded to this and
other impending changes by calling for improvement to the educational system.
Visionary leadership can inspire and kindle ideas that will guide educators in
making improvements to enable students to thrive in the information age.
Background
Reading what others have envisioned for the future inspired this study.
These writings usually began with a critique of the past and current systems, and
then proceeded to discuss an ideal future. Many, though not all, of these visionary
writers have focused on future possibilities in education. Lee (1996) encouraged us
to open our minds to possibilities for the twenty-first century by envisioning a
world of tranquil human relations, good health, creativity, and joy. He describes an
inhabitant of this world as:
a fluid and adaptive individual, centered in a community of loving
relationships and guided by an ethic of nonviolence, encouraged to promote
the growth of others, and stimulated by an increasing knowledge of
l


heightened awareness and emergent capacities, [standing] on the threshold
of the transpersonal present, (p. 189)
Other writers who have envisioned improvements in education include
Barth (1991), whose personal vision included a community of learners who ask
who questions in an atmosphere of low anxiety and high standards. Graves
(1992) also promoted creating cooperative learning communities for the future.
According to Graves, communities need to be built from the ground up and from
within.
Wilson and Daviss (1994) envisioned completely redesigning education
instead of repairing the dilapidated structure of traditional schooling (p. 4). They
believe that national efforts to improve education have stalled, whereas certain
effective innovations in education have been occurring at local levels. In order to
achieve an improved educational system, Wilson and Daviss have encouraged
educators in the United States to develop a clear, compelling, detailed, and
unifying vision of the direction in which they want school reform to go (p. 46).
Similarly, Moffett (1994) and Nanus (1992) affirmed that educational leaders, not
policy makers, need to be at the helm in guiding the directions of educational
improvements.
These ideas and those of others (Aburdene, & Naisbitt, 1992; Bolman &
Deal, 1995; Boyer, 1995; Coker, 1993; Dewey, 1938/1963; Dwyer, 1995; Glasser,
1992; Greene, 1995; Hargreaves, 1997; Hargreaves, Earl, & Ryan, 1996; Kouzes &
2


Posner, 1996; Lambert, Walker, Zimmerman, Cooper, Lambert, Gardner, & Slack,
1995; McDonald, 1996; Mills, 1993; Moffett, 1994; Morris, 1989; Purpel, 1989;
Schlechty, 1990, 1997; Sizer, 1992; Wheatley, 1992) served as inspiration to seek
further the ideas of educators about creating educational improvements for the
future. In these readings, visionary ideas came alive in a narrative form, not
through experimental studies or statistical analysis, compelling the pursuit of ideas
on educational improvement as seen through the eyes of others.
Significance of the Study
Many of the opinions about educational improvement have come from
policy makers and the business community (Moffett, 1994; Nanus, 1992). Few
studies are available in which educators in the field have been asked to relate their
perceptions of educational improvement efforts (Astuto, Clark, Read, McGree, &
Fernandez, 1994; Hallinger, Murphy, & Hausman, 1992; Moffett, 1994; Nanus,
1992; Murphy, Evertson, & Radnofsky, 1991; Verlengia, 1995). No one has
specifically asked female educational leaders about their perceptions of educational
improvements. Two studies have investigated the characteristics of visionary
leadership (Sanchez, 1988; Skarstad, 1994) and another, the effects of a training
course in visionary leadership (Liebman, 1990). Others have asked educators for
their perceptions in regard to specific educational changes (Adkins, 1990;
3


Blakeney, 1997; Jones, 1997; Stillerman, 1991; Webber, 1995). Three studies
(Hallinger, et al., 1992; Murphy, et al., 1991; and Verlengia, 1995) used an
exploratory method to discover educators opinions regarding restructuring efforts,
and one case study examined the vision implementation process of changing a
school (Schurr-Kanter, 1997). One study explored transcending the barriers to
attaining a personal vision quest (Silverstone, 1997) and another study explored the
factors affecting the creation of vision among female teachers (Kemp, 1997). In
light of the variety of research in the area of visionary leadership, it seems that this
study provides important data not found in previous studies. It helps fill a gap in
the research.
This research is necessary because the numbers of women in educational
leadership are increasing. Aburdene and Naisbitt (1992) note that todays new
leaders in education-women-are quickly entering into the mainstream of
education. With an increasing number of women entering the field of educational
administration (Aburdene & Naisbitt, 1992; Edson, 1988; Gupton& Slick, 1995;
Hill and Ragland, 1995), it is important to understand the influence that female
educational leaders will have on educational improvement efforts.
Women comprise a group whose ideas have been underrepresented in the
past (Martin, 1984). Martin supported bringing the ideas of women into the
mainstream of educational thought. In discussing this research topic with C.
4


Shakeshaft, a prominent researcher of women in educational administration, during
the Colorado Association of School Executives Conference (personal
communication, August 7, 1996), she acknowledged the importance of researching
the visions of female educational leaders.
The reasons to study women in Colorado include the high level of
education and leadership among women in that state. Colorado ranks fourth in the
nation in college-educated females and, in Colorado, women own 40% of the
businesses (Women own, 1996). In 1995, nearly 9% of superintendents in
Colorado were female (Nordbye, 1995); even though this percentage is relatively
small, it was higher than the national average of 5.6% (Marshall, 1993).
Additionally, in 1995, all four Colorado Teachers of the Year were women
(Nordbye, 1995) and almost half of the members of the Colorado State Board of
Education were women (Nordbye, 1995). Colorado is a state with much female
educational leadership whose numbers and influence are increasing every year, and
thus was an ideal state in which to conduct this study.
Purpose of the Study
This study explored the visions of female educational leaders for
improvement in education and the processes that these participants envision as
5


most effective for achieving their visions. The investigation sought answers to the
following research questions:
1. What changes do female educational leaders envision for the future of
education?
2. What processes do female educational leaders perceive as most effective
for achieving their visions?
One objective of this study was to determine whether these perceptions of
educational improvement are consistent with current trends in educational
improvement efforts, such as one of the three waves of reform (Smith & ODay,
1991), or do they instead reach beyond current ideas (Coker, 1993; Frantz, 1998;
Tyack & Cuban, 1995). Another hope was to determine whether the envisioned
implementation processes are consistent with generally recognized feminine ideas
in educational practices.
This study contributes to a better understanding of the perceptions on
improvements in education held by women who have been designated as visionary
leaders and will add the perceptions of these educators to the literature on visionary
leadership, providing a sample upon which further research can be based. This
research can assist policy makers and other educational leaders understand the
perceptions of educational improvement held by educators in the field.
6


Theoretical Framework
Beginning in the 1970s to the 1990s, the term vision greatly influenced
thinking in education. When James McGregor Bums (1978) wrote Leadership, the
term vision was not yet in mainstream use. Today, however, his references to
values and reflection and how they are necessary to achieve vision have become
known as the visioning process. Starting with self-reflection and a set of core
values, a person creates his/her personal vision through lessons and knowledge of
past (Schon, 1983). This personal vision may then be brought together with the
visions of other members of the organization and serve as a conduit into the future
(Senge 1990). Many educators believe the visioning process is invaluable in
sparking and implementing improvement efforts in which all are invested (Bennis
& Nanus, 1985; Block, 1987; English & English, 1997; Fairholm, 1991; Grady and
LeSourd, 1990; Hoyle, 1995; Kouzes & Posner, 1996; Patterson, 1993; Schwan &
Spady, 1998; Sergiovanni, 1996).
In an attempt to understand the process of visioning, Frantz (1998)
encountered two types of visioning. He referred to the first type of visioning as
evolutionary, or uncovering the best that currently exists, in order to envision
what is possible. The second visionary process involved a discontinuous-leap
beyond current reality into dreaming what could be without regard to the present
conditions. Frantz discovered that many of his students experienced anxiety when
7


asked to leap and leave their present mind set. Whether a persons visionary
process is evolutionary or a discontinuous leap depends on how comfortable the
person is with the anxiety of the unknown.
The beginning of the visioning process involves becoming a reflective
practitioner who solves problems by taking into account previous knowledge and
applying this knowledge and experience to a new situation (Schon, 1983).
According to Schon, a leader gains insight into the creation of a vision through
reflection. Reflection combined with positive core values contributes to a visions
genesis (Fairholm, 1991). With self-reflective positive values, the vision becomes
long lasting because it is based in ideals (Fairholm, 1991). Bennis and Nanus
(1985) contend, by synthesizing an appropriate vision, the leader is influential in
shaping the future itself (p. 101). This vision serves as a bridge from the present
into the future (Senge, 1990). Whether the process of visioning entails an
evolution of the present or a discontinuous leap into the future, according to Frantz
(1989), depends on the point of view of the visionary. If the visionary is
comfortable with the unknown then they may be willing to take a leap into
creatively imagining future possibilities. Frantz contended that the anxiety
connected with the unknown might also be a source of energy to help the visionary
move into the realm of the unknown. If the visionaries personal values are deeply
grounded through self-reflection, then there is a possibility that the visionary will
8


be able to dream their dream regardless of the barriers. According to Duncan
(1995), difficulties in creating and sustaining a self-reflective process derive from
trying to encourage reflection in a system that values action above reflection.
After a personal vision is developed, a shared vision statement for a school
or district is the next step (Chance, 1992). Starratt (1995) described an institution
as an onion with vision and purpose at its core. The vision statement creates a
value framework that enables daily, routine activities to take on a special meaning
and significance, making the school a special place and instilling feelings of
ownership, identity, participation, and moral fulfillment (Starratt, 1995, p. 54).
Without vision, an institution or school would lose its center, purpose, and focus.
Several theorists favor community involvement in creating an organizational
vision, thus increasing effectiveness in successful educational improvements
(Hoyle, 1995; Patterson, 1993; Sergiovanni, 1996; Starratt, 1995). The visionary
process through consensus of participants often develops into an evolutionary
vision of the future according to Frantz (1998). He found that the constraints of
including all the participants might lead toward a visionary process that is
grounded in looking at what is instead of what could be or an evolutionary
process instead of a leap. Frantz proposed that in order to be able to gather the
greatest variety of possibilities, visionaries should combine both types of visionary
practices: the evolutionary and discontinuous leap visioning, in order to move
9


toward the ideal. He believed it is possible to have both types of visionary practice
simultaneously. This researcher would like to know if the visioning processes of
the females interviewed in this study are leaping into the future, a continuous
flow connecting the present into the desired improvements of the future, or a
combination of the two.
Definitions
In order to facilitate clear understanding of specific terms as they are used
in this dissertation, a list of these commonly used terms and their definitions has
been included here:
Educational improvement: Attempts to rework the system of education so
that instruction, delivery, assessment, evaluation, or any other area of service is
changed for the better (Astuto, et al., 1994).
Female educational leaders: Women functioning in the role of educators
who are involved in decision-making in education (Shakeshaft, 1989).
Visionary leaders: Persons who use a process of reflection to create a
picture of the future (Senge, 1990). These ideas about the future can either be
constructed alone through reading, observations, and reflection (Chance, 1992;
Fairholm, 1991; Kouzes & Posner, 1996; Schon, 1983; Starratt, 1995) or visionary
leaders may be people whose visions are based on the ideals of the community
10


(Barth, 1991; Boyer, 1995; Patterson, 1993; Regan & Brooks; 1995; Sergiovanni,
1996; Starratt, 1995).
Limitations of the Study
In any study, subject pools are limited. Only the perceptions of females
regarded as visionary leaders in education were considered in this study. One
limitation was that many participants in the study may have adopted values similar
to those of the male-dominated culture in which they flourished. Most participants
were nominated by male superintendents, and female superintendents
recommended only three of the women who became part of the final pool of study
participants. The results may have been influenced by the subject nomination
method, because most participants were nominated by men.
Methodology Rationale and Overview
To allow for a wide range of responses, the research was conducted using
an exploratory research method consisting of open-ended questions. Exploratory
research is a method of qualitative analysis that enables the researcher to discover
possibilities through responses of the participants (LeCompte & Pressle, 1993).
The few examples of research on the perceptions of educational improvement held
by educators in the field prompted the use of the exploratory research method.
li


Three previous exploratory studies served as a motivation for this research.
Hallinger, et al., (1992), Murphy, et al. (1991), and Verlengia (1995) used
exploratory methods, because very little effort had previously been made to include
ideas of educators in the field in discussions about educational improvement.
Their exploratory research design allowed the participants lead the discussion
related to educational improvement as they responded to open-ended questions.
The qualitative method emphasizes discovery rather than validation or
confirmation (Krathwohl, 1993, p. 352). Through this exploratory method, a
selected group of participants are asked open-ended questions which allow for a
possible wide range of responses. This method elicits responses that can serve as a
foundation for more extensive research in the future (Shakeshaft, 1989). Other
researchers can then add to this research, possibly discerning a pattern or trend
regarding educational leaders perceptions of educational improvement.
The methodology for this study involved conducting a content analysis of
audiotaped telephone interviews of twenty Colorado women named as visionary
leaders in education by district superintendents in Colorado. To assure
representation of educational jobs and location within the state, participants willing
to participate were stratified by geographic location and position. From this group,
twenty-five names were randomly selected for this investigation. Five dropped out
12


for various reasons, and the remaining twenty women were interviewed by
telephone.
Participants were asked four interview questions to learn about what they
envision for the future of education and what processes they perceive as most
effective for achieving their visions. The questions asked of participants were:
1. Do you have a vision for change in education? If so, describe your
vision.
2. How did you arrive at your vision?
3. How would you go about achieving your vision? What conditions need
to be present to make it achievable?
4. Do you believe your vision is achievable?
During the audiotaped interviews, the researcher took notes. These audiotaped
interviews were then transcribed and analyzed (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993).
Further details about the methodology will be discussed in chapter three.
Overview of the Study
Chapter one of this dissertation presents background information, the
significance and purpose of the study, the theoretical framework, definitions,
limitations of the study, and the methodology rationale and overview. Chapter two
provides a discussion of research literature in the areas of the history of educational
13


improvement in the United States during the last one hundred years, and masculine
and feminine characteristics in educational practices. Chapter three discusses the
specific methodological approach used. Findings from the study are presented in
chapter four, and the implications of these findings are in chapter five of the study.
14


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction
The two major areas addressed in the literature review are: (1) a historical
perspective of education in the United States, and (2) feminine and masculine
characteristics in educational leadership practices. In the first section, educational
improvement efforts over the last one hundred years are discussed as a response to
the widespread cultural changes, the struggle between the progressive and
traditional philosophies, and the three waves of reform that began in the 1980s.
The second section discusses ideas in education leadership that have traditionally
been considered to have primarily masculine or feminine characteristics. The
second section also addresses male and female perspectives about school
improvement including research on the perspectives that men and women hold
toward educational improvement ideas.
Historical Perspective of Education
Before the 1890s, education was decentralized and community controlled
(Conley, 1993). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States
15


experienced a dramatic cultural change from an agrarian to an industrialized
society as demonstrated by masses of people moving from the country into the city.
Toffler(1990) referred to this period as the industrial age. Formerly farmers, these
people began working in the numerous factories that were springing up nationwide.
As a result of industrialization, workers were now needed who were literate and
who could perform mathematical operations. At the turn of the century, a majority
of youths in the United States of ages 7 to 13 attended school (Olson, 1999a).
Compulsory education laws obligated children to attend school, and public taxes
were garnered to fund education (Conley, 1993). However, only one-tenth of the
students stayed in school passed the age of 14, and less than seven percent of
youths graduated from high school (Olson, 1999a). The leaders in the U.S.
educational system wanted to increase the numbers of high school graduates,
reasoning that these more highly educated students would be better prepared to
work in the factories (Sadker and Sadker, 1991).
In the 1890s, a group of college presidents, professors, and other people
who were members of the National Education Association met to discuss
graduation requirements in an attempt to make high school more uniform and yet
rigorous enough prepare students to attend college (Conley, 1993). These
educators, known as the Committee of Ten, were impressed by factory models of
efficient work (Tyack & Tobin, 1993) and were concerned with establishing
16


intellectually challenging standards (Sadker & Sadker, 1991; Tyack and Cuban,
1995). This committee recommended that each student complete a certain number
of Carnegie Units in order to graduate from high school. (Carnegie units are
courses of study, which last a year, and meet four or five times a week.) The
Carnegie unit and curricular differentiation arrived at the right time to provide a
template for expansion of the high school (Tyack & Tobin, 1993, p. 476). Other
changes recommended were organizing students into grades, intelligence tests,
standardized achievements tests, the creation of junior high schools, and the
creation of a professional superintendent and principal (Conley, 1993).
The goal of the Committee of Ten was to give all students a uniform liberal
education in preparation for entry into the workforce and to attend college if
desired. Their leader, Charles Elliot, stressed academic equality. Every subject
which is taught at all in secondary school should be taught in the same way and the
same extent to every pupil so long as he pursues it (Olson, 1999a, p. 26).
According to Tyack & Tobin (1993), the members of the Committee of Ten
envisioned an equitable system of secondary education in which everyone would be
exposed to the same curriculum regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, class, or
immigration status.
These changes were so widespread and influential that most of the high
schools in the United States today still use this system for establishing curriculum
17


guidelines and for determining graduation (Sadker & Sadker, 1991). Under this
educational system, control and order, procedures, and accountability through tests
became institutionalized (Astuto et al., 1994). Unfortunately, from the beginning
this system held a large portion of the students back. The system so beautifully
envisioned was geared to produce failures (Tyack & Tobin, 1993, p. 460).
Traditional and Progressive Education.
Traditional education is the mainstream of what has been practiced in
schools. Before the Committee of Ten standardized the high school curriculum,
traditional education was often practiced in one-room schoolhouses where students
memorized verses or read from the Bible. In the 1980s, certain advocates of
traditional education adopted the slogan of back to basics which signified a
desire to return to the basic 3Rs in elementary school and English, science, and
math in the secondary school. Other characteristics of this movement were
traditional values, increased homework, drills, and much testing (Sadker & Sadker,
1991). This philosophy gained in popularity as news spread about a decline in the
SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores. This decline was reported in the
publication of A Nation at Risk in the 1980s (National Commission on
Excellence in Education, 1983).
Bennett (in Francis and Grindle, 1998) described the characteristics of the
traditional teaching style:
18


(1) separate subject matter; (2) teacher as distributor of knowledge; (3)
passive pupil role; (4) pupils have no say in curriculum planning; (5) accent
on memory, practice and rote; (6) extrinsically motivated, where external
rewards are used; (7) concerned with academic standards; (8) regular
testing; (9) accent on competition; (10) teaching confined to classroom
base; (11) little emphasis on creative expression, (p. 2)
Traditional education has emphasized the teacher-centered approach; students are
frequently assumed to know little, and the teachers are assumed to be the keepers
of knowledge (Simonetti, 1993).
E.D. Hirsch (1997), spokesperson for traditional education, asserted that
modem traditional education has developed into a knowledge-based education
which values high standards in addition to core knowledge. He defended
traditional education by saying that teachers in good traditional programs offer
hands-on experience and present knowledge in a sequential manner, two qualities
also upheld by supporters of progressive education. Hirsch claimed that
underprivileged children have been harmed by permissive progressive methods
which pander to their emotional needs, saying that they would have a better chance
of succeeding if they were taught basic skills to help them function in the
mainstream society.
Progressive education emerged the early 1900s, mostly as a result of John
Deweys ideas concerning creating child-centered environments, practical
activities, school-community relations, and an emphasis on democracy (Sadker &
Sadker, 1991). Cremin (in Olson, 1999b) believed that progressivism in education
19


arose from certain politicians concerns for human welfare and a desire to alleviate
various social problems stemming from widespread industrial and urban growth.
The progressive teaching style has the following characteristics:
(1) integrated subject matter; (2) teacher as guide to educational
experiences; (3) active pupil role; (4) pupils participate in curriculum
planning; (5) learning predominantly by discovery techniques; (6) intrinsic
motivation... (7) not too concerned with conventional academic standards;
(8) little testing; (9) accent on co-operative group work; (10) teaching not
confined to classroom base; (11) accent on creative expression (Bennett in
Francis & Grindle, 1998 p. 2).
Olson (1999b) defined three strands of progressivism, one being
pedagogical progressives, also known as child centered progressives (p. 26),
whose main concern was for children to encounter hands-on learning and social
experiences. Another strand, the social progressives, also known as the
reconstructionists (p. 27), enlarged the ideas of progressivism through the
inclusion of community, work and home functions in the school environment.
Today, schools that offer health and social services and are advocates of
community issues are following the path initiated by the social progressivists. The
third strand, the administrative progressives, wanted to reduce the great number of
dropouts, help students become working members of society, and provide greater
efficiency in schools. The result was the creation of vocational and college bound
curriculums and standardized tests (Olson, 1999b). School leaders envisioned this
change would provide a curriculum to best meet students abilities and interests.
20


Progressivism experienced setbacks in the 1940s and 1950s as child-
centered schools did not seem to have goals or aims (Olson, 1999b). The
traditional demand for a common academic curriculum was strong, as were the
McCarthyism accusations of connecting progressives with communists (Olson,
1999b). In 1957, the Russian launch of Sputnik raised the traditional call for more
academic subjects and stricter discipline in schools.
There was a temporary resurgence of progressive philosophy in the 1960s
and the early 1970s. The main concern of the progressivists during this time was
providing a more equitable educational system (Conley, 1993). For much of the
century, large segments of the population were excluded from a high-quality public
education (Olson, 1999a, p. 29). Members of this excluded population included
those of different races, classes, ethnicity, and gender. According to Kozol, (1995),
inequality in education continues to the present, as students in wealthy suburbs
receive a more rigorous education than those in the urban areas.
Traces of the most recent progressive resurgence can be found in (mostly
elementary) schools through individual and small group instruction, social and
medical services at schools, moveable furniture, narrative report cards, field trips,
and integrated curricula (Olson, 1999b). However according to Cuban, (in Olson,
1999b) this progressive movement lacked uniformity and did not become
widespread. In an interview with Alfie Kohn (ONeil & Tell, 1999), he argued that
21


most of the schools today practice traditional, not progressive education. Students
are grouped according to age; they are evaluated with number or letter grades; most
classes, especially in the high schools, rely on textbooks for information; and
students do not have much influence in curriculum (ONeil & Tell, 1999). Kohn
argued that blaming educational failure on progressive education is inaccurate
because educators rely mostly on traditional practices. If student arent achieving
the way wed like, he asserts, if they lack a disposition to learn, it may be
precisely because schools continue to be so traditional (ONeil & Tell, 1999, p.
22).
Weissglass (1999) declared that no reformer has ever claimed that children
should not know basic skills. However, he contends that the disagreement between
traditional and progressive attitudes is whether these skills should be learned
through memorization or within a context of meaningful and engaging activities.
The controversy, he writes, is as much about the purposes of school in a
democratic society as it is about how people learn (p. 47).
In a study of teachers in England, Frances and Grindle (1998) uncovered a
move away from progressive education between 1982 and 1996. During those
years, teachers attitudes shifted away from progressive education to placing a
greater value on traditional teaching styles. However, upon closer examination, the
data revealed two additional findings: first, teachers utilized elements of traditional
22


practices in at least half of their classroom practices in 1982, when it seemed that
the educational practices in England would likely have been predominantly
progressive; second, traditional and progressive practices existed simultaneously,
For example, the percentage of teachers in this sample who strongly favored
encouraging self-expression was 96% in 1982 and 98% in 1996, and the percentage
of teachers who adopting firm discipline was 91% in 1982 and 93% in 1996.
In the United States, Williams (1996) discovered a similarjuxtaposition of
supposedly conflicting philosophies. In her study, teachers widely accepted
ieamer-centeredness in schools while embracing elements of traditional education.
These teachers demonstrated flexibility by combining structure with personal
warmth. The researchers rationale for this combination was the teachers desire to
provide an appropriate environment for each student; some students need more
structure while others require less. Williams findings were congruent with those
of another study that found teachers supporting traditional and progressive beliefs
at the same time (Slater & Tashakkori, 1991). Cuban (in Olson, 1999b) affirmed
that most teachers currently blend traditional and progressive practices, a blend he
called conservative progressivism (p. 25).
According to Sclan (1990), John Dewey, the creator of progressivism,
actually supported an equal emphasis on childrens needs and a focus on subject
matter knowledge; both areas carried equal weight. In his later years, Dewey
23


(1938/1963) rejected a solely child-centered curriculum in favor of a balance
between the child and the society. Apparently, Kilpatrick distorted Deweys ideas
by emphasizing child-centeredness to the exclusion of all other considerations,
including basic educational requirements and social influences (Sclan, 1990).
The hundred-year theoretical battle between progressivists and
traditionalists has placed child-centeredness and teacher-centeredness in opposite
camps. Yet research has demonstrated that both philosophies can be applied
simultaneously, and the effectiveness of this is dependent on the teachers attitude,
the administrators influences, and the social climate.
Twenty Years of Improvement Efforts
In the last twenty years, educational improvement efforts have focused on a
variety of issues including systemic change, content standards, site-based
management, charter schools, and a variety of options which vary in loci of control
from top-down, to bottom-up, and everything in-between (Fullan, 1994).
Educators, administrators, legislators and others during that time were seeking a
silver bullet: an educational system that would be suitable for all students and
meet all business and community needs. The improvement efforts of the last
twenty years have since become known as the three waves of educational reform.
Three Waves of Reform: The Beginning. The first wave of school reform
was initiated in the 1980s by the publication of A Nation at Risk by the National
24


Commission on Excellence in Education (1983). This publication upset most
school systems throughout the country, because it warned United States citizens
that students graduating from high school in the 1980s did not qualify to compete
in a world economy. Murphy (1992) noted that during this time, the educational
system was accused of negligence in meeting the intellectual challenges of the
time. Schools were characterized by intellectual softness, a lack of expectations
and standards, inadequate leadership, a dysfunctional organizational structure ..
and the absence of meaningful accountability arrangements (Murphy, 1992, p. 4).
In response to the call for stricter intellectual standards, legislators and
other leaders tried to bolster education by using (a) foolproof curriculum guides,
(b) increased requirements for graduation, and (c) an emphasis on tests. Additional
mandates included longer school days and graduation tests (Murphy, 1992).
During this first wave of reform in the 1980s, research on effective schools
created models for improving school and classroom effectiveness (Squires, Huitt,
& Segars, 1984). School leaders were encouraged to emphasize academics,
promote an orderly environment, and reinforce expectations of success. During
this time, Levin (1981) encouraged teachers to promote more active learning
time by suggesting a formula whereby a trained observer could calculate a
students time-on-task. In a guidebook for principals, expectations for success
included increased strict enforcement of student time-on-task as a means of
25


increasing standardized test scores (Squires et aL, 1984). During this first wave,
policymakers critically examined the teaching methods currently in place and also
charged teachers with the responsibility of producing students who could perform
on achievement tests.
For those who wanted a unified system of education with measurable
outcomes, the first wave succeeded, because it placed greater emphasis on testing,
encouraged compliance with educational programs, and focused on uniformity
among educational systems. For others, the first wave did not succeed, because
while changes supposedly enhanced programs, the basic programs remained the
same (Fullan, 1994). According to Sadker and Sadker, (1991) teaching and
learning remained the same, but during this time, educators were expected to work
harder. Negative consequences such as more rigorous testing hurt groups who did
not test well (Sadker & Sadker, 1991). During this time, state governments, not
educators, mandated changes (Fuhrman, Clune & Elmore, 1991; Smith & O'Day,
1991). Asa result, many educators doubted the change agendas (Goodlad, 1996),
and many local educators complained that these reforms were imposed upon them
(Fullan, 1991). Imposed upon or not, educators were encouraged by first wave
advocates to follow a strict curricula.
E.D. Hirschs (1987) Cultural Literacy, an influential book of the first wave,
argued that all students should be required to learn a common body of knowledge.
26


According to Hirsch, students needed to follow the same core curriculum,
consisting of classic literature and a prescribed curriculum, in order to transmit a
sense of national values and unity. Deciding which pieces of knowledge to include
in this core curriculum evoked controversy. Sadker and Sadker (1991) disagreed
with suggestions for a core curriculum, complaining, if the E.D. Hirsch list is
followed, the nations schoolchildren may become literate in the culture of the
white male clubEurocentric, exclusionary, myopic, limited (p. 198).
As a result of the first wave, the general population was shocked into the
awareness that the students graduating from high schools throughout the nation
lacked the necessary skills to compete in a world economy. Educators were
expected to work harder to better prepare students to have higher qualifications for
work and continued education upon graduation.
Looking at the first wave from a broader perspective, Wilson and Daviss
(1994) argued that the first wave merely focused on the symptoms of educational
failure instead of looking for its true causes. The focus turned to the teachers and
districts poor job performances rather than why students poor performances led
them to drop out or not learn skills (Tyack & Cuban, 1995). Policy makers
continued their search for solutions in trying to improve education; the result came
to be known as the second wave of educational reform.
27


Second Wave of Reform. The second wave of reform emerged as a process,
not a product, movement (Smith & O'Day, 1991). A process over product approach
dramatically changed education reform, because it meant that instead of simply
increasing their test scores, students had to demonstrate proficiency of knowledge.
This was a dramatic step beyond measuring educational success by the amount of
seat time or number of courses taken. During this wave, the learning process
became more important than getting good grades or graduating greater numbers of
students (Smith & ODay, 1991).
The second wave began in the mid-nineteen eighties and was known as a
"bottom-up" reform effort (Fullan 1994). Bottom-up refers to local and site-
based control of schools. Teachers and principals were designated as change
agents in efforts, which promoted a decentralization of power from district offices
to local schools. As principals, staffs, and local schools were given a certain
amount of control, site-based management came into being. During this time, site-
based management gave many schools some control over certain functions.
However, district offices did not usually give up much budgetary control to local
schools; hence, power given to the schools was mainly superficial (Sarason, 1990).
Though many positive changes occurred during this time, many of the
innovations were local rather than district-wide or statewide (Smith & ODay,
1991). Local reform efforts frustrated many administrators who were still looking
28


for a one-size fits all solution to their problems. Unfortunately, many schools of
the second wave could not replicate proposed changes on a wide scale. Smith and
ODay claimed the second wave was not a successful widespread movement for
educational improvement. According to Smith and ODay, it was difficult to adapt
the formula of a successful school when circumstances werent the same in every
school. One school may have shone because of a charismatic principal, for
example, which would be hard to duplicate across a district.
Sadker & Sadker (1991) favorably summarized the changes of the second
wave:
The second wave emphasized more thoughtfulbut no less rigorous-
change. It focused on reducing bureaucracy; creating a more professionally
trained, treated, and salaried core of teachers; implementing local decision
making; and strengthened the role of the school principal. Some authors
refer to this as empowering teachers, principals, and even students. (Sadker
& Sadker, 1991, p. 519)
Similarly, Smith and ODay (1991) praised the many innovative ideas
developed during the second wave and admit that these ideas had little chance to
work. They explained why many other educators criticized the second wave. In
short, educators were given local control, but were not given enough time to
implement these new changes. They were given usually less than three years, and
as a result, authorities declared many changes unsuccessful. This about-face on the
part of the authorities created a situation whereby many teachers became
disillusioned and closed their doors to more innovations (Fullan, 1994).
29


Despite the so-called failure of the second wave, Lieberman (1988) stated
that changes introduced during this time may have been the most comprehensive of
the reform efforts to date. O'Day & Smith (1993) agreed, saying that the second
wave seemed to hold the most promise for true educational improvement. During
the second wave, site-based management sparked new relationships among
members of school communities. Also, during this time, school personnel began to
carefully examine both the curriculum and the students learning processes. By
thinking about and working through basic school affairs, teachers, principals, and
site-based managers began the process of controlling education at the local level.
This local control may perhaps be the most important effect of the second wave,
according to Lieberman.
Third Wave of Reform. Lackluster test results and other perceived failures
during the second wave led to the third wave of reform. In this wave, education,
business, and government leaders collaborated in a discussion about the knowledge
Americas students needed to acquire (Consortium for Policy Research in
Education [CPRE], 1996). The third wave, begun in 1989, became known as a
curriculum reform movement (Porter, Smithson, & Osthoff, 1994).
This third wave of reform reflected a growing desire to move all students
into the realm of excellence by establishing educational content standards
(Consortium for Policy Research in Education [CPRE], 1996). Nelson (1994)
30


described the healthy use of standards as not characterized as mandates, rules, or
regulations, but as statements of results, expected outcomes, or performance
indicators (p. 77). When standards were used in this manner, they become
milestones for achievement (Nelson).
On one hand, mandating excellence for all students, especially those with
special needs, caused problems for some educators and students (Smith & O'Day,
1991). According to Clinchy (1995), content standards treat students as objects
because they disregard the relevance of standards to students lives. Similarly,
Greene (1995) argued that young people are not human resources to be managed,
predicted, and measured. Instead, Greene suggested, students should create their
own connections of knowledge according individual rather than external standards.
Despite its criticisms, the standards movement required students to
demonstrate proficiency in subject areas. Many nationwide school districts
accepted or exceeded national standards in kindergarten through grade 12, though
implementation at the classroom level was questionable (Consortium for Policy
Research in Education [CPRE], 1996). School personnel discovered that finding a
way in which all students could demonstrate proficiency was difficult (Baker &
Stites, 1991).
On the other hand, these cries against content standards have been in the
minority (Greene, 1995; Clinchy, 1995). According to the proponents of content
31


standards, students knowledge of subject matter can be measured, and evaluation
of this knowledge shows how well the schools are educating students (Nelson,
1994; Porter, Smithson, & Osthoff, 1994). Proponents of standards also claimed
that individual preference was needed to dictate proficiency evaluations, thereby
making evaluations relevant to all students (Resnick & Nolan, 1995). They argued
that standards should have an overarching goal: to raise the overall level of student
knowledge and achievement. They also argued that the standards movement
sought to teach all higher-order thinking, problem solving skills, and reasoning
skills (Porter, et. al., 1994).
Overall, the standards movement has had some positive effects. In their
article on accountability research at the state level, Cibulka and Derlin (1995)
noted a change in accountability throughout many parts of the United States.
Many states have begun to shift from traditional paper-and-pencil norm
referenced tests to newer forms of performance assessments designed to tap higher-
order thinking and problem-solving skills (Cibulka and Derlin, 1995, p. 482).
However, they noted that despite increased reporting of assessments, this form of
non-traditional accountability has not become fully integrated into educational
policy systems.
Over the last twenty years, the three waves of reform have reflected the
growing concern of educators, policy makers, family, and community members
32


about providing an adequate education for students. The first wave shocked the
nation into the realization that other industrialized nations students were catching
up and even surpassing students in the United States. In response, the U.S.
mandated many requirements. The result was a system, which was basically the
same, but with more testing and stricter graduation requirements. The second wave
decentralized power from the state and federal level to the district and school level.
However, without training in self-govemance, release time to engage in site-based
management, or control of finances, the local schools were not able to affect
change. The second wave resulted in few noticeable test score improvements. The
third wave involved political, educational, and community leaders in establishing
educational content standards. Rather than the narrowly prescribed core of
knowledge of the first wave, these standards reflected parameters of knowledge
from which students would demonstrate proficiency. Currently, content standards
have provided the basis for a nationwide push of educational improvement efforts
in which all students are encouraged to attain higher standards. However, even the
third wave has had problems with lack of compliance by teachers and principals.
None of these waves have provided educators with all the solutions they
desire. However, all of the solutions reflect the values of policymakers in efforts to
change with the times and meet the needs of changing student populations.
33


The Information Age
According to Dwyer (1995), the current educational systems does not
prepare students for the future by teaching them higher level thinking and problem
solving skills. The current system of education, created in the early 1900s has been
based on a factory/industrial model that breaks down information into separate
parts, a system of memorization and a fragmentation of information providing
easy accountability (p. 270). Wesson and Grady (1994) called for a change in the
traditional, hierarchical, control-and-command environments found in many
schools (p. 36). Clark and Meloy (1990) agreed on the limitations of the current
educational system:
We will never move within the bureaucratic structure to new schools, to
free schools. That structure was invented to assure domination and control.
... The bureaucratic structure is failing in a manner so critical that
adaptation will not forestall its collapse. It is impractical. It does not fit the
psychological and personal needs of the workforce, (p. 21)
That education has yet to move into a fiiture construct is apparent in the
alphabetically ordered sequence of high school science classes-biology, chemistry,
and physics-which dates back to the Committee of Tens recommendations of the
1900s. Similarly, throughout the United States, especially in middle and high
schools, many classrooms are still set up in rows with a teacher positioned at the
front of the room. In spite of a proliferation of computers, many teachers still
utilize computers only for drill and practice (Vargas, 1986). Educational practices
34


have not kept up with businesses in the area of computer technology (Radlick,
1994).
Coker (1993) believed that the current educational framework, described as
the educational system of the industrial age, is no longer adequate to meet the
needs of all students. This hierarchical framework has alienated those students who
do not fit into the designated order. Those alienated students have often dropped
out of the educational system. Others have graduated, but recognized that the
system did not educate them to their potential. Clearly, this organizational
framework has only met the needs of the average student, and this was not enough.
Instead, Coker suggested that education should focus on accommodating the future
by creating a new paradigm of education. Toffler (1990) acknowledged that
education must address the six principles of what he calls the new medium
system- interactivity, mobility, convertibility, connectivity, ubiquity, and
globalization (p. 360). This new system has been called the information age
(Toffler, 1990).
According to Dulie (1988) and Toffler (1990) a transformation into the
information age is inevitable. As evidenced by the extent of telecommunications,
many businesses and industries have already moved into the information age.
According to Toffler, when the information age is fully implemented, culture
throughout the world will look very different than it does now. As data become
35


interrelated, information will be chunked into larger models, creating
architectures of knowledge (Toffler, 1990, p. 82). Toffler foresees the
manipulating, gathering and assembling of information creating great changes in
the areas of work, wealth and power.
In response to these anticipated changes of the information age, Coker
(1993) envisioned creating a new paradigm in education that is complex,
continuous, and not at ail certain. According to Coker, education must change
from being product oriented (which is reminiscent of the factory model) into this
new, process oriented paradigm of education, which is open-ended, dynamic, and
interactional (p. 6). Coker described how teachers should facilitate learning using
both creativity and intuition in the information age, a time of great uncertainty. As
we move into the twenty-first century with its rapid technological advances, the
citizens of this new culture will need to be able to have the skills to not only
function in this rapidly-changing society, but also to solve the problems which arise
(Coker, 1993; Wheatley, 1992). Larkin and Ellis (1995) surveyed teachers
perspectives of their educational practices. They found that while teachers viewed
themselves as currently using more traditional practices with their students, these
same teachers expressed the desire to embrace more holistic practices in the future.
What these educational improvement efforts in the future will look like
depends on the values of the creators of the change process (Astuto, et al. 1994). In
36


any case, the segue from an industrially-based to an information-based education
will involve dramatic changes in the way students learn, and will hopefully meet
the needs of all students.
Masculine and Feminine Characteristics
in Educational Practices
This study included a literature review of masculine and feminine
characteristics in educational practices. By gathering information regarding
gender-based characteristics in educational practices, the researcher could
determine whether the participants perceptions of future educational
improvements reflected masculine or feminine characteristics.
Historically, masculine and feminine characteristics in educational practices
have reflected a social environment in which men and women have had distinctly
separate roles (Furst, 1993). During the first three centuries of the United States,
educational opportunities for females focused on preparing them to raise families
and take care of the house. In general, an education for girls centered on teaching
social graces, such as music, dancing, fine arts and needlework (Sadker & Sadker,
1991). In contrast, most boys who continued past elementary school were offered
courses in continuing education or vocational training to help them support a
family (Sadker & Sadker, 1991).
37


During the early 1900s, the Committee of Ten established a hierarchical
education system with the superintendent as the final authority and the teachers
relegated to a relatively powerless position (Sadker & Sadker, 1991). Females
were largely locked into their roles as teachers, yet males could advance into the
leadership and administrative positions. In exercising their traditional role as
leaders, men have been authoritarian and direct, giving orders, supervising, and
having the final word (Gupton & Slick, 1996). In the early 1900s, many women
were hired as teachers, in part because they could be hired at a lower salary (Sadker
& Sadker, 1991) but also because females were regarded as being more gentle with
children than were men. Teaching was considered natural to women (Sadker &
Sadker, 1991). These traditional roles for men and women in education, patterned
at the turn of the century, continued until recently (Martin, 1984). In the 1990s,
even with increased numbers of women entering educational administration,
discrimination against women moving into administrative positions remains strong;
in 1992, females held 70% of all elementary, middle and high school teaching
positions and 94.4% of all superintendents were male (Bell & Chase, 1992).
In surveying the forthcoming generalizations pertaining to women, Robb
(1996) cautioned, Its tempting to hypothesize that women are more uniform and
monolithic in their opinions than they really are (p. 32). Sperling (1994) also
cautioned against gender labels, because women have demonstrated more
38


individual differences than similarities in leadership practices. Likewise, Banks
(1995) asserts, By focusing on the differences between males and females, we
essentially deny the variation that exists within each group (p. 73). In looking for
differences, Hill and Ragland (1995) warned against putting women into boxes and
restricting certain qualities to women only. In reality, feminine and masculine
characteristics are not necessarily as specifically defined as they will be portrayed.
The characteristics highlighted in the following discussion are possible for both
men and women.
Traditionally, most research on feminine characteristics in education was
centered upon comparing them to masculine characteristics (Gupton & Slick, 1996;
Restine, 1993). Some research compared women and mens leadership styles and
encountered no differences (Doherty, 1995; Henry-Lucas, 1993; Langley, 1994).
Thomass (1993) research of community college presidents discovered that women
and men were more alike than they were different. Bejoian (1989) found that
women in academic administration in two-year liberal arts colleges perceived
themselves as using both masculine-oriented leadership qualities as well as a
female-oriented approach.
For many years, feminine characteristics were omitted from mainstream
educational leadership models (Montano, 1998). Shakeshaft and Nowell (1984)
discovered that a widely used instrument measuring leadership characteristics, the
39


LDBQ (Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire), was created using male
models and was validated using primarily male samples.
In spite of discrimination, glass ceilings, and prejudice against women in
leadership positions, in the last twenty years, women have increasingly moved into
educational leadership, and their influence is becoming apparent (Aburdene &
Naisbitt, 1992; Edson, 1988; Gupton & Slick, 1996; Hill & Ragland, 1995;
Shakeshaft, 1989). These influences are seen in practices utilizing characteristics
traditionally attributed to women such as collaboration, empowerment, and
community building (Irby & Brown, 1994). Also, until recently, women have been
the guardians of certain characteristics, many of which had been undervalued and
have only recently emerged as essential for holistic educational practice (McGrath,
1992).
A lack of gender specific research related to general educational practices
has been problematic, because available research has been centered predominantly
on characteristics of females or males as leaders, but not on specific feminine and
masculine characteristics in educational settings. Banks (1995) contends that
research related to gender has not been thorough, as most research focuses on one
variable, such as leadership style or gender, without intersecting the relationship
between several variables. As a result, there are some gaps in research, such as
relatively little documentation of the experiences of gender within the educational
40


setting (Banks, 1995). The research described in this the next section of the
literature review focused on the characteristics of administrators more than any
other group of educators, because the participants of available gender specific
research have usually been administrators.
Gender Specific Research Related to
Educational Leadership Practices
Traditionally, the male educational leadership role has tended to be
authoritarian and direct. Examples of this style would be giving orders, directing,
and overseeing all transactions, as well as being the final word in all decisions
regarding operational procedures (Gupton and Slick, 1996, p. xxi). Irwin (1995)
found that men tend to define themselves independently of others. Traditionally,
men have been more likely to perceive the world as a rational entity, governed by
laws easily understood and used by all persons (Irwin, 1995).
Cherished male leadership qualities are described in Robertss (1989) tale
of Attila the Hun, a book demonstrating that the secrets of leadership in Attila the
Huns time would also apply to todays world. The qualities described in Roberts
book also seem appropriate for educational leadership. They include loyalty,
courage, and a strong personal desire coupled with a commitment to achieving
success. Other qualities include emotional and physical stamina. The list
continues: competitiveness, self-confidence, accountability, responsibility,
41


credibility, tenacity, dependability and stewardship-all strong personal qualities
that will help leaders accomplish their personal best (Roberts, 1989). It is not
inconsistent to believe that team players possessing these qualities will hold their
own, be responsible, and will make sure that they are accountable for doing their
personal best.
A field study of male and female superintendents revealed that males
generally used communication as a political tool to gain exposure and visibility,
whereas females tended to use communication as a peer-networking tool (Marshall,
1988). In the area of teamwork, Shakeshaft (1989) found that men tend to
characterize a team player as a person who has a job to do and has responsibility
for his/her part of the whole. She found, however, that women administrators saw
a team player as someone who worked toward the achievement of group goals.
These differences show that women stress cooperation while men stress autonomy
and individuality (Shakeshaft, 1989, p. 17).
Cigana (1992) studied differences and commonalities in reported
administrative gender behaviors among university presidents. It was found that
visioning was a common behavior among males and females and that charisma was
a behavior reported in both genders. In using problem solving skills, both genders
were described as rational, judgmental and motivated. The differences between the
genders were apparent in three areas:
42


First, females defined their vision in terms of diplomacy, whereas males
defined their vision in terms of aggression. Second, females approached
problems as facilitators and males approached problems as mediators.
Third, females conceptualized their roles as relational and males
conceptualized their role as individual. (Cigana, 1992, p. 83)
In another gender specific study, male educational leaders tended to share
statements concerning general ideas, policies and philosophy, whereas female
educational leaders shared information related to specific situations (Biklen and
Branigan, 1980). In this study, the females enjoyed sharing stories, being
enthusiastic, supportive, and empathetic. In contrast, the males were primarily
concerned with completing the task. They vied for leadership of the group and
competed with each other or withdrew. The most important issues discussed by the
males were central office topics and how parents viewed them. The females, on
the other hand, were more concerned with interpersonal situations and how the
teachers viewed them as leaders (Biklen and Branigan, 1980). Belenky, Clinchy,
Goldberger, and Tarule (1986) found that women would ask questions to clarify
and disclose additional information, whereas the men asked questions in order to
challenge. These findings have demonstrated distinct gender differences.
Shakeshaft (1989) compiled the research on women administrators up to
the mid-1980s and found no difference between the characteristics of men and
women in terms of leadership and management. Womens management style was
similar to mens. However, as Shakeshaft probed deeper, she discovered that even
43


though female administrators managed educational affairs in a way similar to male
management, they displayed additional characteristics. Female administrators
tended to be more people-oriented, better instructional leaders, and more service
minded in their management approach than were men (Shakeshaft, 1989).
Gupton and Slick (1996) found that in comparing themselves with male
administrators, female administrators viewed themselves as more verbal, more
concerned with personal relationships and more cooperative. These highly
successful female administrators felt they were similar to men in aggressiveness,
competitiveness, spatial orientation, and in their approach to career advancements.
Curiously, in Gupton and Slicks study, men showed themselves to be equal to
women in family orientation.
In another comparative research study, Watkins (1996) found no differences
between males and females in a self-rated measurement of their selling and
participatory styles. However, women scored significantly higher in the areas of
communication style (Watkins, 1996). Similarly, Andrews and Basom (1990)
found that female principals communicated more frequently and positively with
teachers, parents, supervisors, and community leaders than did males. In a study of
male superintendents, Blumburg (in Pavan, 1995) found a tendency to react to
conflicts quickly in an attempt to defuse the problem. In contrast, Livingston
(1997) found that female principals utilized increased communication during
44


turbulent times, talking through the situation rather than quickly resolving the issue
at hand. Findings indicated that both male and female administrators use
communications skills, but they use them differently and for different ends.
Women administrators have been found to be particularly strong
instructional leaders, especially when working with teachers in presenting teaching
and learning strategies for students (Shakeshaft, 1989). Andrews and Hallett (in
Andrews and Basom, 1990) studied principals and found that female spent 38.4%
of their time in instructional leadership, in contrast to male principals (21.8%).
According to McGrath (1992) and Andrews and Basom (1990), women seem to
possess more knowledge in regard to instruction, as they have generally had more
classroom experience than their male counterparts. Andrews and Basom
discovered that female principals show more concern about individual differences
between students, paying more attention to the social/emotional development of
their students than do their male counterparts. Studies of female-defined schools
(Shakeshaft, 1987, p. 16), found them to be small, non-hierarchical, child-centered
and to incorporate site-based decision making processes.
Wesson and Grady (1994) conducted a national study of urban female
superintendents and discovered that these women valued change and being
connected with others. They preferred to use a collegial-collaborative model of
leadership (Wesson & Grady, 1994). Similarly, Papalewis and Yerkes (1995)
45


found that female leadership encouraged cooperation, communication, and the
process of team building. A survey of Chief State School Officers found that more
females than males among the officers desired successful site-based decision-
making for local districts for the future (Morgan, 1995). Restine (1993)
emphasized the value of looking toward women as a resource and a model in
improving schools. She stated, primary to womens work in schools is a focus on
relationships, teaching and learning, and establishing a sense of community
(Restine, 1993 p. 22).
According to Belenky, et al. (1986), women possess a relational style of
leadership. Regan and Brooks (1995) described the attributes of relational
leadership as caring, courage, collaboration, vision and intuition (p. 19). They
insist that all aspiring school leaders, male and female, should be taught the
attributes of relational leadership. In their metaphor of leadership, both masculine
and feminine characteristics fit together as a double helix, showing that both parts
are necessary for a complete whole.
As the antithesis of hierarchical organization, the double helix makes it
clear that both genders need to move back and forth from the
conceptualization of the world primarily associated with their gender to that
associated with the other, and that both knowledge and praxis are
incomplete if articulated through the perspective of one gender only.
(Regan & Brooks, 1995, p. 21)
An example of how the feminine characteristics have become part of the
mainstream leadership process becomes apparent upon comparing measurement
46


tools for leadership characteristics. Hemphill and Coons (in Harris, 1991) Leader
Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) had been heavily used as a
measurement of leadership qualities. As discussed earlier, the LDBQ was created
using male models and was validated using mostly male samples (Shakeshaft &
Nowell, 1984).
Examples of criteria for successful leadership in the LDBQ include:
initiating structure, exhibits strong convictions, clearly defines own role and lets
others know what is expected, role assumption, actively exercising leadership role
rather than surrendering to others, predictive accuracy; integration, maintains a
closely knit organization, and persuasiveness uses persuasion and argument
effectively (Hemphill & Coons, in Harris, 1991). In comparison, Sergiovannis
(1995) text for training principals used the Change Facilitator Styles Inventory
(CFSI), a relatively recent tool for self-assessing the effectiveness of a principal.
Items included in the CFSI are: vision, structuring the school as a workplace,
structuring involvement with change, shared responsibility, and guiding and
supporting. The differences between these two surveys clearly indicate a movement
toward feminine characteristics in recent years.
Masculine qualities have traditionally included a respect for authority and
direct communication. Educationally, males were inclined to serve as general
supervisors of all operations, leaving specific instructional matters in the hands of
47


the (predominantly female) teachers. In contrast, feminine characteristics display a
focus on collaboration, empowerment, community building, and concern about
individual differences. In spite of the differences, females tended to be as equally
effective as males in leadership and management abilities (Shakeshafit, 1989).
Furthermore, certain qualities once seen as solely the domain of females have
slowly emerged as desired practice in educational leadership (McGrath, 1992).
Concern for individual differences or the desire to include others in the decision
making process are currently more acceptable (Patterson, 1993). In the 1990s, EQ
or Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1998) has emerged as a valuable attribute in
our society, giving credibility to characteristics once thought to be feminine.
Goleman acknowledged that, in general, women have had more practice in various
interpersonal skills; however, men have the ability to become adept in
interpersonal and empathetic skills.
Shakeshaft (1989) noted research showing that recent recommendations for
effective schools include what has been considered to be traditional female
methods of leadership, such as placing an emphasis on achievement, setting
instructional methods and evaluations, providing a positive school climate,
evaluating student progress, coordinating instructional programs, and supporting
teachers.
48


It appears that the traditional role of leadership is in the process of
transforming itself, adopting a more inclusive point of view. This acceptance of
what were formerly feminine practices is exemplified in a study that discovered
that male superintendents new to the job were more likely to be concerned with
students and willing to share (Pavan, 1995, p. 8). Similarly, Sergiovanni (1996)
prescribed that superintendents, principals and other administrators should be
willing to put aside the existing system of executive authority, and to replace it
with collegial authority-an authority embedded in shared commitments, shared
ideas, and professional responsibility (p. 153). In the past, shared authority and
commitments had been known as feminine leadership qualities; they are now
becoming valued characteristics in educational environments. It appears that a new
paradigm of educational leadership that includes feminine perspectives as
prescribed by Shakeshaft (1989) is emerging.
Gender Specific Perceptions Concerning School Improvement
Turning from gender specific leadership practices to perceptions of school
improvement by men and women, few have focused their attention on gender
specific perceptions of school improvement efforts. Even though, the available
studies are few, and the numbers within the samples are small, the results are
insightful.
49


Murphy et al. (1991) interviewed thirteen female teachers and one male
teacher concerning educational restructuring. These teachers were optimistic about
school reform; however, they were not convinced that they would be able to
effectively change the present educational system. Their skepticism came from a
lack of confidence in a school systems ability to change. Among the school
reforms they suggested were improved communication and collaboration among
teachers, administrators, parents, and the community. They favored allowing
teachers to share school leadership through site-based decisions; they also favored
parents supporting education. They envisioned principals functioning as
instructional leaders rather than just as managers of the facility. As a whole, these
teachers recognized the need for their own professional development, a need that
would be facilitated by freeing up their schedules and making other adjustments in
their schedules.
In focusing on the student, these (mostly female) teachers stressed the
importance of teaching the whole child through inter-relating subjects and helping
both students and teachers develop self-esteem. They foresaw students developing
both socially and academically through increased teacher interaction in smaller
classes; they also promoted curriculum changes involving increased creativity and
critical thinking. In their vision, teachers would play a larger role in implementing
these curriculum changes in the state and district than is currently the case.
50


Additionally, district and administrative personnel would cooperate with the
ultimate goal of increased quality of education for students. As Murphy et al.
(1991) states, these teachers are able to envision schools of tomorrow, sometimes
clearly, sometimes obliquely, with a sense of hope and passion (p. 146).
Similarly, Frenier (1997) discovered that females were able to move between the
real and ideal with ease.
In another study (Hallinger et al., 1992), thirteen male and two female
principals supported the status quo. With the proposed push toward educational
change, several mourned their loss of power. However, they generally supported a
more caring environment based on meeting students needs and providing
individualized instruction with consideration given to accommodate multiple
learning styles. They supported lowering class sizes and improving student-teacher
relationships. Some of their concerns included improving teaching-learning
processes, moving toward an interdisciplinary curriculum, promoting active
learning, and promoting diversity in a student-centered instructional approach. The
principals (mostly male) in this study seemed to be very concerned about
accountability for school performance. They also showed concern about the effects
of site-based management and local decisions on the power structure relationship
among groups within the educational system. However, they were largely
51


pessimistic; only two principals believed that restructuring would improve
students academic performance.
Verlengia (1995) asked twelve superintendents in Iowa about their
perceptions of educational change in twenty-first century schools. The
superintendents in Verlengias study portrayed their vision of schools in the
twentieth century as caring communities of learners where democratic principles
were valued and relationships were valued and nurtured.
Even though Verlengia (1995) noted in his research that the sample was
gender balanced, the numbers of male and female participants were not mentioned.
In this study, the superintendents predicted that schools were moving toward a
more flexible system of education in which every student and faculty member
would eventually become a problem solver. Every child needed to have a
successful educational experience leading to lifelong learning. These
superintendents acknowledged their part as major players in improving the
educational system working alongside representatives of the community. The
superintendents recognized the importance of involving teachers in all
improvement efforts; however, they mostly agreed that teachers were the largest
barriers to implementing these proposed changes. Most notably, half the
superintendents were convinced that their visions of educational change would not
52


be attained; however, it was not evident whether the pessimistic superintendents
were solely male or female or a mixture of both.
In another study, Furst (1993) asked female administrators how they would
direct school renewal. These female administrators favored collaboration,
empowering teachers, parents and students. They also favored alternate learning
sites located in the community, academic standards, and the administrator acting as
a facilitator. In comparing these attitudes with those identified in the literature on
female leadership style, Furst affirmed that this study positively correlates with the
current literature but with one exception: this study found that these administrators
favored high standards and high expectations for all students, a result which was
not apparent in studies in the past.
New theories of feminine leadership demonstrate that females in
educational positions are able to function within the seemingly paradoxical context
of caring for students and having high standards for them (Diller, 1996).
According to Diller, these two activities of nurturance and criticism are able to
function simultaneously in an environment both supportive and yet critical in an
attempt to pursue excellence.
These examples of perceptions of school improvement efforts have been
conducted mostly through exploratory research. The perceptions of these educators
show a striking pattern of recognition of the cultural shift into a society in which
53


student needs are met and successful experiences are provided for every student.
The studies presented here show females to be in favor of educational
improvement efforts that are focused on meeting the diverse needs of students.
The males also demonstrate the desire to meet the changing educational needs of
their populations; however, their responses reflect a more pessimistic attitude about
whether these changes will be reflected in improved academic achievement for all.
Summary Discussion of Gender Characteristics
Even though recent research shows a move toward the merger of masculine
and feminine characteristics in educational practices, certain feminine and
masculine values are still distinguishable. The research on gender characteristics
shows an increasing incorporation of female values in educational practices.
Gender specific surveys have begin to show that males are concerned with the
formerly considered feminine characteristics of creating a caring environment in
education by meeting the educational needs of students through addressing
multiple intelligences, creating active learning environments, and giving attention
to diversity.
In spite of this shift, certain characteristics retain the perception of being
feminine. Such characteristics include a focus on meeting the needs of the child
socially and emotionally as well as academically. Additionally, feminine
54


characteristics include strong preferences for developing good relationships among
participants in the educational community. Included in this relational picture is a
desire for collaboration among teachers, parents, and members of the community
through site-based management. Females have tended to adopt what has previously
been considered a traditional masculine trait related to higher educational
expectations. The insistence that all students will meet higher educational
expectations has become paramount for both men and women. Likewise, another
traditional masculine characteristic adopted in general educational practices is
accountability. The desire to have all students accountable for achieving high
standards is currently being adopted by males and females alike. Other
characteristics that are both masculine and feminine in nature include having a
vision, exhibiting charisma in a leadership role, making family a strong part of
educational practice, and desiring to improve the structure of education.
Conclusions
This literature review has focused on changes in education in the last one
hundred years in a variety of areas. As the U.S. moved from an agrarian to an
industrial society, the corresponding changes in education included establishing a
curriculum that exists to this day. An ongoing struggle between progressive and
traditional education provided battleground for those who were concerned with the
55


development of the whole child versus setting specific educational standards that
determine the quality of education offered. One of the lessons learned from
looking at the battle between traditional and progressive philosophies is that they
can exist simultaneously, and both are widely embraced by educators.
The literature review also revealed the three waves of educational
improvement efforts over the last twenty years that ranged from top-down to
bottom-up and from nationwide content standards to site-based management.
Although none of these reform efforts has completely solved the problem of
educating all students to higher standards, the need to improve education has
emerged as a nationwide issue.
Part of the need to improve education has emerged as a result of the
realization that the current society is moving from the industrial age into
information age. Teachers, no longer the guardians of facts and knowledge,
increasingly are becoming facilitators who help students find information at the
touch of a button. In the industrial age, having a factory job for life was a desired
occupation. In the information age students prepare for jobs that may not currently
exist. Likewise, desirable skills in the information age include processing
information, problem solving, and being a member of the team. This change is
inevitable, and educational systems need to be prepared to help student learn in this
new environment.
56


The final section of the literature review focused on masculine and
feminine characteristics in educational practices. The traditional masculine
characteristics in educational leadership have tended to reflect an authoritative,
top-down approach. The feminine characteristics have reflected a culture of
nurturing and shared leadership. Even though the lines between describing gender-
based characteristics had been quite distinct in the past, the current models of
educational leadership have blurred the differences. As a result, characteristics
once considered feminine, such as instructional leadership, have now become
incorporated into the mainstream of desired educational leadership practices.
The literature review showed that our current culture is changing at a rapid
pace. Educational leaders with vision will be needed to facilitate the move into the
information age and to educate all students to meet higher academic and content
standards.
57


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Introduction
This exploratory study sought to capture visions of change in education held
by female educational leaders in Colorado. The two research questions were (1)
What changes do female educational leaders envision for the future of education?
and (2) What processes do female educational leaders perceive as most effective
for achieving their visions? The research sample was chosen from a pool of female
educators identified as visionary leaders by district superintendents throughout
Colorado. Random selection of stratified populations assured a balanced
representation of job positions and geographical locations among those who
participated in the study. Job position balance was achieved by selecting
participants from both school and central office personnel. Geographic balance
was achieved by selecting participants from the eastern plains, the Front Range,
and the western part of the state. (The Front Range area of Colorado is the corridor
of land running north to south along the eastern side of the foothills of the Rocky
Mountains; the most concentrated urban and suburban populations of the state are
located along the Front Range.)
58


In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with twenty women selected
from among those who had been designated as visionary leaders in education.
Cook & Fonow (1990) have found that telephone interviews are a valid method of
collecting data for research. After conducting these interviews and writing up
transcripts, in this exploratory qualitative study, the researcher used content
analysis on the interviews. LeCompte and Preissle (1993), Seidman (1991), and
Wolcott (1994) support content analysis of data in research. The content analysis
identified common themes concerning the perceptions of the future of education
and the processes toward achieving educational improvement.
Design of Interview Questions
The interview questions (Appendix A) were based upon the premise that the
participants used a visioning process to create ideas about educational
improvement. The participants in this study were recommended as visionary
leaders, defined as persons who use a process of reflection to create a picture of the
future (Senge, 1990). These ideas about the future could either be constructed
alone through reading, observations, and reflection (Chance, 1992; Fairholm, 1991;
Kouzes & Posner, 1996; Schon, 1983; Starratt, 1995), or be based on the ideals of
the community (Barth, 1991; Boyer, 1995; Patterson, 1993; Regan & Brooks, 1995;
Senge, 1990; Starratt, 1995). The exploratory questions used in the interviews
59


allowed open-ended responses, permitting the participants fully to express their
ideas.
The following questions were asked:
1. Do you have a vision for change in education? If so, describe your
vision.
2. How did you arrive at your vision?
3. How would you go about achieving your vision? What conditions need
to be present to make it achievable?
4. Do you believe your vision is achievable?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Throughout the interviews, additional questions were asked to clarify the
participants answers.
The first question was asked to determine whether the participant,
designated as a visionary leader, had a vision concerning improvements in
education. This question set the stage for all the questions that followed. An
affirmative answer to the question established the basic premise that the participant
indeed had a vision of future improvements in education. The participant was then
asked to describe her vision.
60


The articulation of a vision of change in education documents the
contributions of educational leaders. Bennis and Nanus (1985) concur that having
vision is fundamental:
To choose a direction, a leader must first have developed a mental image of
a possible and desirable state of the organization. This image that we call a
vision may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission
statement, (p. 89)
In his now famous quote, Covey (1990) instructed many to begin with the
end in mind (p. 44). By visualizing the end, the likelihood of its manifestation
becomes possible. Schlechty (1990) believed that any significant improvement
effort in education should include leadership and a clear vision of the future. All of
these authors emphasized the importance of vision in creating positive changes.
Several (Hargreaves et al., 1996; Moffett, 1994; Nanus, 1992) have urged
educators to become involved in the process of creating visions that can serve as
guides for professional practices and policies; without the participation of
educators in the visionary process, others outside the educational realm will create
visions for them. The second half of the first interview question asked the female
educators to describe their visions. By articulating their visions, these women
designated as visionary leaders will have joined the ranks of those others who have
contributed to the improvement of education by describing their ideal educational
environment of the future. Irwin (1996) wrote that visioning merges dreams with
imagination, thus creating new worlds with a greater sense of perfection. Morris
61


(1989) calls this fixture consciousness (p. 19). The participants of this study were
asked to dream a new reality in education.
The answer to the second question-How did you arrive at your vision?-
reveals the participants visionary process. Responses to this question may indicate
whether the participant was a relational leader (Regan & Brooks, 1995) or one
who worked alone. The possible answers to this question may vary. For example,
a participant may have arrived at her vision alone through observation, experience
and reflection (Chance, 1992; Fairholm, 1991; Kouzes & Posner, 1996; Schon,
1983; Starratt, 1995). Schon described the creation of vision in isolation as a
process of reflection on prior knowledge combined with experience from a new
situation. He explained that this vision is arrived at through intuition developed
through experience rather than through a reliance on theories and their
applications. Fairholm sees a combining of core values with the reflective process
in arriving at ones vision. According to Irwin (1996), to envision a future, it is
necessary to see it in a strong relationship to the past.... It is not so much what
happened but what we value, what we wish individually and foster in community
(p. 137). Chance compiled research to verify that visionary leaders utilized both
logic and intuition with strong personal values. In summary, the creation of vision
by oneself requires reflection combined with experience, intuition, logic, and
values.


The participant could have developed her vision by working with other
people and developing ideas in response to the situation at hand, then shaping and
reshaping this vision through interactions with others (Barth, 1991; Boyer, 1995;
Patterson, 1993; Regan & Brooks, 1995; Senge, 1990; Starratt, 1995). People who
initially are reflective practitioners (Schon, 1983) often interact with others as
the visioning process evolves, develops and is refined. Bennis and Nanus (1985)
explained that a persons vision frequently originates from the thoughts of others.
However, they added that an insightful visionary leader would understand the
validity of anothers image and proceed to give it form, attention and legitimacy.
Similarly, Starratt understood that often-common values emerge from separate
visions when the expressions of others meld with ones own ideas to create a new
perspective of a common vision. Regan and Brooks described the process of a
dynamic vision, which includes the input of others to create a relational style of
leadership, something at which women appear to be particularly adept. This
process of a relational leadership, according to Regan and Brooks, utilizes a
dynamic vision guided by intuition, care and collaboration and also involves the
ability to conceptualize the world through others.
According to Sergiovanni (1996), creating a vision requires working
together to create a learning organization. He stressed that in order to create and
carry on a vision, a group of visionaries must care deeply for people and possess
63


the ability to communicate ideas clearly and simply. Once a change has occurred,
this learning organization continues to grow. Graves (1992) proposed that a
community-supported vision be built from the ground. Boyer (1995) described
how members of a school community through having a common vision are able to
create improvements in the institution. Patterson (1993) described this process as
developing shared commitment to core values (p. 46). Then this process
becomes a transition from a personal vision to a shared vision for the organization.
According to Grady and LeSourd (1990), one of the five dominant qualities of
leaders with vision is that they are able to involve the members of their
organization in developing a common purpose and direction.
The second research question could also uncover whether the participants
leaped beyond the current reality or evolved a new vision of educational
improvements. This type of vision creation, according to Frantz (1998), involves
an evolutionary process, or uncovering the best that currently exists, in order to
envision what is possible and leap beyond the current reality into dreaming what
could be.
The third pair of questions-How would you go about achieving your
vision? and What conditions need to be present to make it achievable?-dealt
with the implementation of each persons vision. When asked what conditions
need to be present to achieve their visions, the participants in this study were asked


to describe both their ideal educational environment and how this ideal would be
achieved. According to Tewel (1996), this step could be called making the vision
real (p. 17). This realization process involves supporting and sustaining the vision
as well as aligning systems toward the improvement effort (Tewel). Bennis and
Nanus (1985) called for building social architecture (p. 85) on every level of an
organization in order to manage the realization of the vision. They noted, With a
vision, the leader provides the all-important bridge from the present to the future of
the organization (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p. 90). ODay and Smith (1993)
referred to systemic vision of reform, which includes aligning all the parts of a
system to create a system in which all branches of the system work together in
improving education. Fullan and Miles (1992) described this process as more of a
journey than a map.
The fourth question-Do you believe your vision is achievable?-
determined the participants beliefs toward the feasibility of their ideas (Pogrow,
1996; Sarason, 1990). In other words, the interviewer asked if these ideas are
dreams, or if the participant believes they are feasible. This question is also a
checkpoint in determining whether the participants are pessimistic or optimistic
about the actualization of their visions. Do they believe the support systems for
implementing their ideas are already in place, or can be reasonably implemented?
In a study similar to this one (Murphy et al., 1991), a sample of teachers was
65


optimistic about school reform but the teachers were not convinced that they would
be able to effectively change the present educational system. Their skepticism
came from a lack of confidence in the ability of school systems to change. In
responding to this question, participants had the opportunity to indicate their
beliefs about the work of administrators and other educators in the achievement of
a vision.
Finally, the investigator asked for participants additional comments.
Billson (1995) utilized this research method of asking for additional comments to
give the participants a chance to elaborate on anything not previously addressed
during the interview, a method agreed upon by Seidman (1991). This final
question is consistent with the qualitative method of this research because it
provides an opportunity for additional discoveries as supported by Krathwohl
(1993). The additional question gives the participants time to address any issues
not aired previously in addition to giving them a chance to ask questions of the
interviewer. The final question was especially important during the pilot
interviews conducted to check and clarify the interview questions.
Selection Process
The first step in selecting the participants for the study involved contacting
the superintendents of the 176 school districts in Colorado by mail (Appendix B).
The names of the superintendents were obtained from the 1995-96 Colorado
66


Education and Library Directory (TSfordbve. 1995). A letter mailed to all 176
superintendents in Colorado (Appendix B) described the nature and the purpose of
the study. The superintendents were asked to indicate on a postcard (Appendix C)
the names of two or three women whom they considered to be visionary leaders in
education. The criteria for visionary leadership provided to the superintendents
was (1) that the individual have ideas generated from within through a process of
self-reflection or (2) that the individual have a visioning process that is constantly
being reshaped by the circumstances in the environment and the input of the people
involved in the organization.
After receiving the explanatory letter, 103 superintendents replied by
returning a postcard (Appendix C) with the names of two or three women whom
they considered to be visionary leaders in education. Most of the women
recommended were employed in the same district as the superintendent, but some
were not. Superintendents of smaller districts tended to recommend teachers and
principals, while superintendents of larger districts tended to recommend women
who worked in the central office.
The researcher then contacted the 204 recommended women by mail and
asked them to return an enclosed postcard indicating their intention to participate
in or not to participate in this study (Appendixes E and F). The women were told
that a sample of women would be selected for interviews from among those
67


indicating a willingness to participate. Whether they were or were not willing to
participate, all 204 women were asked to return a postcard. On the postcard, all the
women provided information about their length of service in education, the
location of the district or organization where they serve, and their specific
educational position/title. The participants were asked to provide their telephone
numbers and the best times to contact them. By signing the postcard, the
participants agreed to participate in the study. The participants were also assured
that they could leave the study at any time without any negative consequences
(Appendix F) and that their identities would remain anonymous.
A total of 135 women returned the postcard. Of these, 121 agreed to
participate in the study and 14 declined to participate. Of those 14 who declined,
10 were either teachers or principals.
The names of the 121 female leaders who indicated willingness to
participate in the study were placed into a geographic pool and stratified according
to geographic area and educational position so as to assure a balance within the
sample (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993). Once the cards were stratified, a balanced
selection of 25 women was chosen as the sample population for the interviews. To
elicit a variety of educational possibilities, the researcher chose female leaders in a
number of different positions: experienced teachers, principals, superintendents,
assistant superintendents, and administrators. To achieve geographical balance, the
68


sample included female educators chosen from the three major geographical areas
of Colorado: the eastern plains, the Front Range, and the western area of the state.
In summary, the selection process involved contacting all the
superintendents in Colorado who recommended names of women whom they
considered to be visionary leaders. Fifty-nine percent of the superintendents
responded, recommending a total of 204 women. The researcher contacted all
these women by mail and 121 agreed to participate in the study. Through a
stratification method balanced for positions and geographical representation, the
researcher selected 25 women to participate in the study.
Of the 25 women selected to participate in the study, one, a statewide
administrator, did not return the consent form enclosed with the letter notifying her
of her selection, and four other participants were ultimately not available for
interviews for a variety of reasons, including scheduling conflicts, lack of available
time, lack of telephone connections, and retirement. The 20 participants who
returned the consent form and were available to participate in the study included
two teachers, a school psychologist, two principals, two superintendents, two
assistant superintendents, one statewide administrator, and people who worked in
district offices (a human resource developer, a public information officer, two
executive directors of learning services, a strategic plan facilitator, and a director of
69


secondary instruction). Also included in the sample was a former superintendent,
now an international motivational speaker on education.
The participants geographical locations reflected the distribution of the
population in Colorado, with half of the participants concentrated in the Denver
metropolitan area, where most of the population of the state resides, and the
balance of the participants spread throughout the state. Ten participants were from
the Front Range area of Colorado, five were from the southern and eastern part of
the state, and five were from the western part of the state. The student populations
of the districts represented by women in this sample ranged from 170 to 63,000
students. Per participant, the length of service in education varied from thirteen to
thirty-plus years, with an average of twenty-four years in education.
Table 3.1 entitled Participants of the Study lists the participants by
initials, their professional title, classification of district (urban, suburban, rural),
and the size of the district where they were employed.
70


Table 3.1 Participants of the Study
Initials Title Classification of District Size of District
FD Teacher and Partner for Goals 2000 Suburban 13,000
HC School Psychologist Rural 1,300
GD English/Drama Teacher Rural 2,000
FK Principal Urban 18,300
MN Principal Urban 32,500
YE Principal Rural, mountain Charter
LL Superintendent Suburban 23,400
ST Consultant, former superintendent Suburban 16,000
GR Superintendent Rural 170
CV Deputy Superintendent Urban 18,000
CG Assistant Superintendent Suburban/Rural 20,000
KM Assistant Superintendent Urban 63,000
BC Associate Superintendent Urban 18,300
AZ Strategic Plan Facilitator Urban 27,400
CZ Director Human Resources Suburban 6,300
KE Director Executive Services Urban 11,400
HN Director of Secondary Instruction Suburban 16,500
MK Executive Director of Learning Services Urban 23,400
DT Public Information Officer Urban 23,400
TW Coordinator, Colorado Department of Education Statewide State wide
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Data Collection
Pilot Interviews
Before the formal study took place, the investigator conducted a pilot study
with two female educational leaders recommended as visionary leaders. The pilot
study tested the validity of the proposed interview questions (Siedman, 1991).
The pilot study was conducted in the same manner as the rest of the study,
including the use of a signed consent form stating the participants rights. The
question and answer session for both participants in the pilot study followed the
same procedure as that used in the regular interviews. It involved a recorded
telephone interview, during which the researcher also took written notes, and later
transcription of the conversation (Siedman, 1991; Wolcott, 1994). The most
important aspect of the pilot study came at the end of the interview when the
participants were asked whether they thought the research questions adequately
elicited responses concerning perceptions of the future of education and the
processes for implementing these educational improvements ideas. Both women
agreed that the questions accomplished their intended purpose. The data collection
method remained unchanged as a result of the pilot interviews.
Telephone Interviews
The telephone interviews were conducted at a time convenient for the
participants. Before being contacted by telephone, the participants consented to
72


being interviewed by signing the consent form. The twenty women interviewed
were questioned about their perceptions of education in the future and the
processes for achieving this vision.
The interview process followed the format established in the pilot study:
audio taped telephone interviews, written notes, and transcriptions of the
conversations. The researcher transcribed the interviews. Once the interviews
were transcribed, common themes were highlighted and compiled concerning the
womens perceptions of education in the future and the processes of implementing
their visions. Common themes were determined through common words and
phrases.
Analysis of Data
The process of analysis consisted of looking for emerging patterns,
theorizing, choosing and defining units of analysis, comparing, contrasting,
aggregating, ordering and, finally, making inferences about the data (LeCompte &
Preissle, 1993). The process of content analysis included repeated readings of the
transcriptions, references to the notes taken during the interview process, and
repeated listening to the tapes in order to reconfirm that results compiled were
based on common themes (Wolcott, 1990, 1994).
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The questions in this research were purposefully designed as open-ended in
order to elicit responses based on the priorities of the participants, rather than to
evoke responses that would fall into previously determined categories. There was
therefore no attempt to elicit responses during the interviews that would fit within
the framework of and/or directly expand upon previously conducted research as
described in the literature. In this research study, the data itself guided the analysis
and determined the categories into which the responses were placed.
Finally, the process of qualitative analysis was guided by the work of
LeCompte and Preissle (1993). This process began by examining the transcribed
interviews to identify remarks made in response the two research questions: (1)
What changes do female educational leaders envision for the future of education?
and (2) What processes do female educational leaders perceive as most effective
for achieving their visions? The researcher placed color-coded circles on the
margins of copies of the interviews to denote those portions of each interview that
consisted of comments and remarks that could be labeled as descriptions of
perceptions of the future of education or processes perceived as most effective for
achieving educational improvement.
The next step in sorting emerging patterns was more detailed as the data
needed to be further sorted into bits of data which fit into relevant categories
(LeCompte & Preissle, 1993, p. 237). Thus, after coding those areas of the
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transcribed interviews that corresponded to perceptions and processes, portions of
the transcripts were numbered in the margins according to repetitive words and
topics, which would later be used in determining the final categories.
The final general categories became: changes envisioned for the future of
education, the processes perceived as most effective for achieving visions, and
vision feasibility. Within the category of changes envisioned for the future of
education, the subcategories became: the creation of vision, foundations, and the
desired locus of responsibility. Within the category of processes perceived as most
effective for achieving visions, the subcategories became: meeting students needs,
creating a learning environment, roles and responsibilities of teachers, and
implementation.
The process of disaggregating the data and placing certain portions into
potential categories was done by literally cutting copies of the interviews into
sections that matched possible categories through word repetition and similar
topics. These cut-up portions were then numbered and labeled with the initials of
the participant. They were then grouped in piles according to whether or not they
fit within possible categories. Portions of the interviews pertaining to similar
topics were grouped together. This process revealed over 125 different categories
such as individualizing education, long-term commitment, and supportive
environments. These numbered categories were then recorded onto a spreadsheet
75


according to categories and ownership of the ideas. The process of creating the
spreadsheet went through several stages during which the responses were grouped
and regrouped according to topics and ideas. During this time, portions of the
interviews containing ideas that fit into like categories were combined. The
condensing of topics continued as the researcher reread the transcriptions to
confirm that these new categories were consistent with the interviews overall
content. A third party compared the categories listed in the table with the
transcripts of the interviews. Agreement between this third party and the
researcher was strong. The spreadsheet tables may be found in each corresponding
section in Chapter 4.
The last part of the analysis involved interpretation based on drawing upon
and combining what is known in the literature, what emerged from the data, and
the researchers knowledge of education in order to infer or play with ideas
probabilistically (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993, p. 247). The results of this analysis
process or interpretation may be found in chapter five. Although this exploratory
study cannot be generalized to the entire population of educators, these
interpretations nevertheless may be useful as educational improvement ideas.
In summary, this research is an exploratory, qualitative study of the
perceptions and processes of educational improvements as found in a sample of
females in Colorado who were recommended as visionary leaders. These
76


perceptions of improvement were related to their visions of education in the future
and processes for implementing these visions. The participants were selected
based on recommendations of superintendents statewide, and a pool of willing
participants was stratified according to job position and geographical location.
Twenty-five were selected for participation, with a final total of twenty women
actually participating in the interviews. After two pilot interviews affirmed the
validity of the open-ended interview questions, the researcher proceeded with
audiotaped telephone interviews. After the interviews were complete, the data
were analyzed according to content. The results follow in chapter 4.
77
_____i..
bihiiod \Afithrtut nprmi^ion


CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
The Study
This exploratory study surveyed the opinions of various female educational
leaders in Colorado with regard to their visions of educational improvements and
the implementation of their ideas. The purpose of this study was to examine the
visions of female educational leaders regarding the future of education and the
change processes they believed necessary to achieve these visions.
The major research questions were (1) What changes do female educational
leaders envision for the future of education? and (2) What processes do female
educational leaders perceive as most effective for achieving their visions?
The women interviewed were asked questions about their educational
visions, their process of visioning, and their plans for achieving their visions. The
pilot study validated the questions, confirming that they elicited the desired
information about visions and implementation of educational change. After
completing twenty telephone interviews, the researcher compiled common ideas
that emerged from the data into tables.
78


Introduction
According to the results of this study, these female educational leaders
desired transforming education into a system of learning for all students. Even
though many would acknowledge that the current educational system provides
learning opportunities for students, many critics, including the participants of this
study, affirmed that in spite of the gains accomplished in the recent reform
processes, educational institutions still do not meet the educational needs of all
students.
The participants envisioned everyone in the educational community
participating in this improvement process: students, teachers, administrators, and
community members. Collectively, these leaders also envisioned that members of
a given educational community would first develop shared beliefs through a
collaborative process. This collaboration would create a supportive environment
and a learning environment, in turn providing educational success for all students.
Additionally, these leaders realized that such an environment would require
ongoing maintenance through systemic processes that they described.
The participants stressed that the vision for educational improvement and
the support system both needed to be in place before any improvements could be
implemented. They advocated initiating the improvement process by first
acknowledging each student as an individual with specific needs. In order to do so,
79


their ideal schools would have smaller classes as well as fewer students in each
self-governed school.
The results of this study support connected, systemic, and longitudinal
systems. The envisioned educational system would begin with a common body of
knowledge. Additionally, graduates of this system would be able to apply that
knowledge to solve problems both in the classroom and in real life. Participants
visions of implementing improvement efforts involved developing content
standards, multiple assessments systems, networks of communication and supports
that would sustain efforts for an improved system. The sections that follow explain
the participants visions for an improved educational environment and methods of
implementation.
A compilation of the findings can be seen in Tables 4.1-4.5. Within these
tables, the participants were grouped according to educational position and listed
by initials assigned to them for purposes of identification in this study. Initials
used throughout this study to identify participants are not the actual initials of the
participants. These tables closely reflect the topics covered in Chapter 4 and show
which topics were discussed by each of the participants. These tables show patterns
of responses in relationship to the two research questions of this study. An X in
the table shows that the participant discussed the topic; a NO signifies that the
participant mentioned the topic, but did not believe that topic was congruent with
80


her vision of educational improvement. The reasons the participants said no is
explained in the text of chapter 4.
Changes Envisioned for the Future
of Education
The first research question of this study pertained to the changes these
educational leaders envisioned for the future of education. Responses related to
this research question are grouped into three areas: creation of vision, foundations,
and the desired locus of responsibility. The creation of the vision deals with how
the participants in this study developed their visions of educational improvement.
The foundations section explains the groundwork necessary for any improvement
idea to work, and the desired locus of responsibility section focuses on the
responsibilities of the people involved in improving education.
Creation of Vision
Participants developed their visioning process through various methods.
Since most of the responses came in the form of anecdotal stories, the data
gathered in this section will not be represented in a table. One half of the
participants cited their many years of experience as educators as essential elements
in the creation of their vision and beliefs about educational improvement. A strong
background in teaching heavily influenced most of the participants visions of
educational improvement. I feel Im a teacher, and Im always a teacher, said an
81


associate superintendent, BC. The participants, who were former teachers, had not
forgotten what it meant to be a teacher. This background as a teacher continued to
be valuable in shaping their vision.
MK, an executive director of learning services, first developed her ideas
alone, and then through working with others holding similar beliefs, was able to
bring her ideas into the forefront of her work. FD, a teacher, developed her ideas
through total quality management training offered by Hewlett Packard. HM, a
director of secondary instruction, developed her vision through years of practice,
study, and research; she talked about working through trial and error.
YE, a principal, grew up in a household in which both parents were
teachers. As a result, she believed educational improvement efforts are an ongoing
process, not a single-step action. Another principal, MN, came from another
country, grew up on welfare, and was able to achieve success through education.
Through personal experience, she believed in opportunities that can be gained
through education. Two participants, ST and TW, discussed the integration of
previous knowledge with practical living skills in their creation of their vision. TW
described this duality as living with both the left and the right brain: practical skills
on one side and the love of learning on the other. LL, a superintendent, described
the development of her vision as a result both of experience and of being under
82


public scrutiny. She also combined these thoughts with her passion for student
learning.
Although each participant developed her vision in a unique way, all of the
participants had clear visions about educational improvement. To summarize,
some of the participants created their vision alone; other participants created their
vision with others. Most had initially created their ideas alone, but then others had
influenced their ideas over the course of many years.
Foundations
In order to implement the participants visions of education, certain
foundations need to be in place (Table 4.1). This study found that these included
having a vision of education in place before making changes (50%), collaborating
with all persons involved in the improvement process (65%), aligning systems to be
in congruence with improvement efforts (35%), creating learning environments
(85%), fostering shared beliefs among the educational community (45%), creating
a supportive environment for improvement efforts (80%), making a long-term
commitment to improvements (65%), and allotting enough time to implement all
the changes necessary (30%). The participants recognized that such an effort to
improve education would be a complex issue, one that would not be solved easily.
Though not all of the participants agreed with all of the aspects of implementation,
these general ideas about such a comprehensive system were more the rule than the
83


Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Table 4.1 Changes Envisioned for the Future of Education: Foundations
Position Teacher Principal Superinten Assistant District Office State
dent Superin tendent
Initials of participant F H G F M Y L s G C c K B A c K H M D T
D C D K N E L T R V G M C Z z E M K T W
Vision in place X X X X X X X X X X
Collaboration X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Aligning systems X X X X X X X
Create learning environment X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Shared beliefs X X X X X X X X X
Supportive environment X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Commitment X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Complex X X X X X X X X X X X X
Time X X X X X X


exception. In general, interviewees appealed for broad systemic improvement
efforts in the educational environment supported by the entire community.
Behind the scenes, much visioning, thought, and planning must occur
before the implementation of an improved educational environment can be
undertaken. One-half of participants said that it was important to have a vision of
education in place before beginning any improvement effort. All of the
interviewees who were currently working as administrators in district offices
argued that having a vision in place at the local site or at the district level was
essential. Having an educational vision in place at local levels, according to a
current administrator AZ, would assure that the educational community would be
able to make a connection between the vision and what was actually being done in
the schools. MK, an executive director of learning services, described her vision
for this groundwork, maintaining that first of all, the schools need to have a clear
focus on student achievement. Everyone, she believed, needs to be focused on
making a difference for students and helping them to succeed.
In addition to allowing enough time for implementing improvements,
thirteen participants (65%) agreed that collaboration was a necessary ingredient for
effective education. Suggestions for successful collaboration included working
within a school, arranging to work with the local university or business, and
appealing for support from the community. Many participants admitted that
85


working in isolation is no longer beneficial for teachers and for schools. TW, a
statewide coordinator, said, The more ways people work together, the more things
are going to change.
Overall, collaboration was an important theme in these interviewees
responses because through collaboration, all stakeholders could invest in the
improvement of the educational system. The study participants acknowledged that
this integrated approach might complicate the proposed improvement efforts, but
they supported this approach because it increased involvement of the potential
number of people influenced by the change effort.
According to seven of the twenty participants (35%), aligning systems
within a school or district was a necessary foundation in any educational
improvement effort. CZ, a human resource director, agreed, saying that close
partnerships need to exist among many people in order to accomplish
improvements:
I think that school boards need to be meeting with city council people and
boards of directors of non-profit organizations, as well as other state
organizations. They need to be building partnerships; bringing people
together, so that were pooling the resources and making them work for us,
rather than creating these competing services.
According to a director of executive services, KE, alignment of the system
must be the first step in the process of improving education. Our priorities, she
stated, need to be aligned with those in the legislature, in higher education, and in
86


the communities. Our systems need to be focused on achievement. AZ, a
strategic plan facilitator, stressed that improvements can be implemented only
when a systemic approach brings people and systems together. If a district does not
have knowledgeable leadership implementing systemic change, AZ advocated
hiring a specialist who could advise the district during this crucial step of
educational improvement.
According to the interviewees, the initiative for improvement might come
from teachers, administrators, or from others such as legislators and community
members. Overall, the participants showed no preference for either top-down or
bottom-up initiatives (Fullan, 1994). Both directions were supported.
Creating learning environments was a foundation that was supported by
seventeen of the participants (85%). A former superintendent, ST, described the
first step in creating a learning environment as setting up an atmosphere within a
district where there is a felt need for improvement:
I also call it creative dissatisfaction. Youre dissatisfied; you know school
can be better.... I think that leaders have a responsibility for creating
environments where there is creative dissatisfaction. You set expectations,
you pose hard questions, and you start the discussion about it.
In her district, ST set aside a year of study to enable school personnel to examine
their current educational situation. During the year of study, no new actions
were taken; instead, school personnel conducted a needs assessment of their
individual school. During this time, ST posed hard questions meant to challenge
87


the school personnels assumptions about the possibility of educating all children
to the highest level. This exploration process revealed that several schools in the
district were content with their schools in their present state and did not feel the
need to change. She did not try to intervene in those schools. Through this
process, other schools conveyed that they would like to improve some aspect of
their school. As a result, ST focused her improvement efforts only on the schools
that supported the desire to create a learning environment.
A director of executive services, KE, stressed the need to create learning
environments for the individual student, arguing that our current educational
system is mass-produced and based on an industrialized economy. In order to
move into the twenty-first century, she asserted, education must transform into a
system of individualized education for all students. The importance of creating
learning environments would involve having a place not only where students can
learn effectively, but also where all people in the community can grow in their
learning.
Echoing several participants views, an assistant superintendent, CG,
described a truly educated child in a learning environment. She explains that:
The educated child is able to find and access information and data that he
or she needs in order to make good decisions, has highly developed thinking
skills, not only for accessing data, but analyzing and applying that data.
The educated child is able to deal with change and also is able to
understand human qualities, attitudes, feelings; this child knows what it is
like to work with others. Finally, the educated child has a conscience about
88


values, what is good, what is helpful in life, and what a society needs.
Education goes beyond academic learning.
In order to create this learning environment, educators need to come together in
their beliefs.
According to nine of the twenty interviewees (45%), educators need to have
shared beliefs in order to implement improved education for all students. The
participants believed shared beliefs lead to shared visions of education. Beliefs
should be shared by all educational and community members. BC, an associate
superintendent, stated, People have to have strong relationships, and their
philosophies and their belief systems must be congruent [with their relationships].
HM, a director of secondary instruction, described holding shared beliefs
for education as the first step in an improvement effort. She describes how:
every piece of the organization, every part, every committee, whether
theyre teachers, or bus drivers, people who work in the kitchen, or
administrators, they all have to be part of the system .... Were working
together. We understand where were going. Were on the same page.
Most of these female educational leaders expressed a strong desire to have
people and systems cooperatively envision how education/schools should function.
However, several participants emphasized that without an atmosphere supportive
of change, shared beliefs will not result in any lasting reform.
The participants described a supportive environment as one that welcomes
and nurtures everyone in the community and assures that each persons needs are
. j ..,:tun.
89


met. Sixteen of the participants (80%) mentioned the necessity of a supportive
school environment for implementing improvements. A supportive environment
was most often discussed in terms of support for both teacher and students;
however, support for the parents and the community was also mentioned by the
participants. A supportive environment guarantees that quality learning takes
place, because outside interruptions and anxieties do not significantly interfere with
education. In such environments, connections with others as well as support
systems ensure progress for both students and teaching staff.
In order to help create a supportive environment, GR, a superintendent,
would like to see that experienced teachers mentor incoming teachers. A public
information officer, DT, thought that during the turmoil of an improvement
process, support is needed for everyone. According to a charter school principal,
YE, creating a supportive environment becomes an activity that can result in the
continuous involvement of everyone in the community, taking place beyond school
hours with activities involving people of all ages.
According to the participants, without encouragement and a supportive
environment, no education improvement idea can take root. A deputy
superintendent, CV, described the excitement at local schools when administrators
respond positively to teachers desires to participate in working together toward
90


improvements. However instigated, the vision statement needed broad support in
order to encourage the successful implementation of any improvement efforts.
After developing a vision, collaborating on how the systems will be aligned,
and envisioning a supportive learning environment, educators must be committed
to long-term implementation. Thirteen interviewees (65%) stated the importance
of commitment toward education. A public information officer, DT, noted that
many of the partners needed to be committed to improvement efforts:
[Educational improvements] take commitment on the part of the board
members and of the superintendent. It takes time and commitment on the
part of the principals, and then it takes the absolute time on the part of the
citizens, who all too often are willing to say that somebody else will do it
this time
In discussing commitment, FK, a principal, said, I think when our legislature, the
state, or our nation puts education in front of everything else, then we will see a
difference.
Clearly, commitment to improving education was a necessary foundation
for educational improvement efforts. Such commitment is necessary because
change is slow. Twelve participants (60%) agreed that the educational
improvement process is complex process that involves many systems working
together.
According to seven participants (35%), time was an important factor in
achieving full implementation of any educational improvement effort. They
91


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