THE ROLE OF LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS IN EDUCATIONAL REFORM:
CAPACITY BUILDING USING THE EDUCATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
OF THE COMMUNITY
Ann Morrison Clement
B. S. Colorado State University, 1969
M. A. University of Colorado, 1971
A dissertation 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
2002 by Arm Morrison Clement
All rights reserved.
This dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy
Ann Morrison Clement
has been approved
Clement, Ann Morrison (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Role of Local School Boards In Educational Reform:
Capacity Building Using the Educational Infrastructure of the Community
Dissertation directed by Professor Rodney Muth
This study examined whether civic educational infrastructure and student
achievement are associated. Local school boards that utilize the capacity of the
educational community to assist in their governance role may be those school boards
that are more effective in achieving educational reform. I hypothesized that
significant differences would be found between the civic educational infrastructure of
districts and student achievement in those districts.
The framework for the civic educational infrastructure was developed by
identifying ten components that describe capacities existing in educational
communities. The Civic Educational Index Survey (CEIS), the instrument developed
to measure these components, was completed by 162 stakeholders. Student
achievement was measured by assigning proficiency levels (advanced, proficient, and
working towards proficiency) to the six school districts in the study based on the
Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP).
Analysis of variance was used to determine differences between the ten CEIS
components and the total CEIS score for districts according to their proficiency
levels. The Bonferroni, Sidak, and Tukey tests of multiple comparisons were used to
determine differences between the CEIS scores and the CSAP proficiency levels.
Statistically significant differences at the .05 level were found in four of the
ten components in the proficient and advanced CSAP levels. The proficient-level
districts exhibited a higher civic educational infrastructure than either the advanced or
working towards proficiency level districts.
Additional data were obtained from the stakeholder responses to the CEIS.
Overall, the school board members rated the civic educational infrastructure higher
than the other stakeholder groups with licensed staff and community ratings the
lowest. Stakeholder demographic data provided interesting trends.
Recommendations suggest further exploration of the CEIS as an instrument
for helping districts improve their civic educational infrastructure. Replications of
this study in larger, urban districts and/or in a single district should corroborate the
research hypothesis. Districts could use the CEIS as a tool to determine their civic
educational infrastructure strengths and needs to further promote student
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates dissertation. I
recommend its publication.
I dedicate this dissertation to my late husband, Colonel James L. Clement, United
States Army, for his encouragement and support during his assignments in the
United States of America and in the Republic of Slovenija.
I wish to thank to my advisor, Rodney Muth, for his coaching, patience, and
encouragement in the completion of this dissertation. I also thank my committee for
their collective expertise and guidance. I recognize my professors at the University of
Colorado at Denver for their many contributions during my studies. My gratitude is
extended to the school district administrators who encouraged and assisted me in
collecting my data. I also thank all of the stakeholders who responded to my surveys.
I am indebted to Ed VanderTook, Mountain Board of Cooperative Services, for
technical support and advice. I thank my family and friends who continued to
provide me inspiration during this journey especially my mother, Hazel. Finally, I
thank David Matthews, whose mentoring assisted me in completing this dissertation.
Statement of the Problem...............................2
2. REVIEW OF RESEARCH........................................8
Role of the Local School Board.........................8
Role in a Democracy.............................10
Constitutional Educational Responsibility.......12
Theories of the Politics of Education...........13
Expectancies of Constituents....................16
Summary of the Role of the Local School Board...21
School Board Leadership...............................23
Context One: General School Board Leadership....24
Context Two: Specific School Board Leadership...31
Summary of School Board Leadership..............39
Development of Educational Policy .......................39
Governmental Levels of Policy Initiation..........39
Capacity Building in Policy Adoption and
Summary of Educational Policy Development.........44
Process for Educational Change:
The Involvement of All Stakeholders...............44
Summary of Chapter 2.....................................47
3. THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATIONAL
The Civic Infrastructure of the Community................50
Review of LiteratureCivic Infrastructure................51
Components of the Civic Infrastructure...................53
Volunteerism and Philanthropy.....................57
Community Information Sharing.....................59
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building...60
Community Pride and Vision........................61
Summary of the Civic Infrastructure................63
The Civic Educational Infrastructure of the
Components of the Civic Educational
Infrastructure of the Community....................64
School Board Performance.........................:.69
Volunteerism and Philanthropy......................71
Community Civic Education..........................74
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building....78
Vision and Pride...................................80
Summary of Chapter 3....................................84
The CEIS: A Survey Instrument............................86
Development of the Civic Educational Index
Human Subject Research Committee...................93
District Permission to be Involved
in the Study..................................104
Rank Order for Proficiency Level of Reading
and Writing Content Standards........................110
Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP)...........110
Determination of Proficiency Levels..................112
Description of the Four Processes for Rank
Stakeholder Population Ranges By All Districts.......119
Participant Selection Process........................120
Survey Distribution....................................... 121
First Survey Distribution............................122
Follow-up Survey Distribution........................129
Summary of Responses from the First
and Follow-up Surveys.........................131
Data Entry Process: SPSS Data
Decision-Making Process for Survey Data Entry.......133
System Missing Variables............................134
User Missing Variables..............................134
Accuracy of Data Checks.............................134
Civic Educational Index Survey Participants................136
Stakeholder Demographic Data...............................137
School Board Members................................138
CEIS Infrastructure and Student Achievement................140
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)........................145
Tests of Multiple Comparisons.......................148
Stakeholder Responses on the CEIS..........................153
Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)........................154
Test of Multiple Comparisons
Summary of Chapter 4....................................161
Civic Education Infrastructure and Student Achievement..163
Stakeholder Responses on the CEIS.......................165
School Board Performance..........................168
Community Civic Education.........................168
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building...169
Stakeholder Demographic Data............................170
School Board Members..............................170
Support Staff ....................................171
Summary of Stakeholder Demographic Data...........172
Hypothesis Further Explored.............................173
Summary of Chapter 5......................................175
6. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS.................................176
Review of Literature......................................176
The Civic Educational Index Framework.....................178
The Civic Educational Index Survey
Hypothesis: Significant Differences Between Civic
Educational Infrastructure and Student Achievement.181
Role of School Boards..............................183
Components of the Civic Educational
Infrastructure: Further Research
for the CEIS.......................................185
Continued Exploration of the Relationship
Between Civic Educational Infrastructure
And Student Achievement............................187
A. Panel of Experts Packet.....................................190
B. Panel of Experts CEIS.......................................197
C. CEIS 50 Questions/10 Components..............................201
D. CEIS Randomly Ordered Questions..............................205
E. Sample CEIS..................................................208
F. Human Subject Research Committee Approval................211
G. Initial Participant Letter and Permission...............212
H. Follow-up Participant Letter and Permission.............214
4.1 Summary of Correlations Between 50 Individual Items
and CEIS Scores........................................................95
4.2 Summary of Correlations Between 10 Component Items
and CEIS Scores........................................................96
4.3 Summary of Reliability Coefficients for 10 Components
4.4 Summary of Reliability Coefficients for 10 Components
- 47 Items............................................................103
4.5 Process One- Rank Order For Proficient & Above...........................114
4.6 Process Two- Rank Order For Proficient & Above...........................115
4.7 Process Three- Rank Order For Proficient & Above........................116
4.8 Process Four- Rank Order For Proficient & Above.........................117
4.9 Population Distribution- Stakeholders/Districts
1998 Fall Enrollment Students; 1999 Fall Enrollment Others............119
4.10 Sample Distribution- Surveys............................................120
4.11 First Survey Responses- # Returned/# Distributed,
4.12 Follow-up Survey Distribution...........................................129
4.13 Follow-up Survey Responses- # Returned/# Distributed,
4.14 First & Follow-up Survey Responses- # Returned
/# Distributed, % Returned.....................................132
4.15a Complete Surveys Used in Study
# Sent (S), # Complete (C), % Completed (%)...................136
4.15b Complete Surveys Used in Study
# Sent (S), # Complete (C), % Completed (%)...................137
4.16 Rank Order of Component Means...................................142
4.17 Order of Component Means (High to Low) by Proficiency Level.....143
4.18 Multiple Comparison Test for Components and CSAP Ranking........144
4.19 Analysis of Variance for 10 Components and CEIS
4.20 Multiple Comparison Tests (Bonferroni & Sidak) for Components
and CSAP Levels................................................150
4.21 Multiple Comparison Test (Tukey HSD) for Components
and CSAP Levels.................................................152
4.22 Analysis of Variance for 10 Components and CEIS Total
Score by Stakeholder Groups....................................156
4.23 Multiple Comparison Test (Bonferroni) for Components
and Stakeholder Responses......................................159
As the 21st century approaches, the need to assess out-dated structures for
educational governance is significant (Carver, 2000). Schools remain the core and
most visible institution in most communities, and the issue is to ensure an effective
policy-making body for public education for children. Leadership from the local
school board is critical to the collaborative movement of government (Usdan, 1994).
Local school boards have been neglected, and continue to be neglected, in
major educational reform (Campbell & Greene, 1994; Eadie, 1998; Muth & Azumi,
1990). While local school boards should be critical agents in educational reform
(First, 1992), they have lost significant policy influence in the last two waves of
educational reform (Chalker & Haynes, 1997). This loss of policy-making influence
continues into the twenty-first century (Haynes & Chalker, 1997).
However, school boards that effectively involve all stakeholders in the
development and implementation of educational policy can have a significant impact
on educational reform at the local level (Campbell & Greene, 1994; Iannaccone &
Lutz, 1994; Muniz, 1969; Shannon, 1994). As educational policy setters for school
districts (Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994), school boards can be instrumental in educational
reform- if they have a clear focus on educational policy. The school board is the one
entity in education that can focus on the local community and address educational
reform at the local level. This study assesses how local school boards utilize the
capacity of the educational infrastructure of the community and the effect that this has
on the implementation of educational reform.
Statement of the Problem
Why is it important to study the role of the local school board in implementing
educational reform? While achievement of local school boards over the last 200
years of local education governance warrants respect, admiration of past
achievements and recognition of well-meaning current members does not constitute a
rationale for perpetuation of the status quo (Danzberger & Usdan, 1994). The current
role of the school board is identified by staff and community to be in a state of chaos
(Danzberger & Usdan, 1992). Because local school boards experience tensions as
they maintain the role prescribed and perpetuated by them over the last 200 years,
they need to rethink their roles and functions. Complex challenges are raised for an
educational institution whose role has not been rethought in almost two centuries
Why has the role and functioning of the school board changed so significantly
in the last two centuries? Many new players now occupy the education arena. The
role of local school boards is affected by local, state, and national agendas (Innaconne
& Lutz, 1994). An example of this is the lack of mention in much of the literature on
educational reform of the role of local school boards. But since the 1980s,
responsibility for educational reform has been assumed by national and state
policymaking rather than left to the discretion of the local school district (Elmore,
1993). School boards cannot control their policies or shape outcomes, as they once
could. The role of the local school board has been affected by more top-down
regulations (Lutz, 1980). Current legislation has had a major impact on the local
board through innovations such as national and state standards and assessment,
charter schools, public school choice, schoolbased management, and school finance.
More groups, such as the National Goals Panel, have had significant educational
influence on setting educational policy (Kirst, 1994). And boards have had their
decision-making powers dramatically affected by collective bargaining contracts by
national, state, and local education associations (Divoky, 1979; Peck, 1988; Smit,
Social movements today also are challenging public institutions and trying to
make them more responsive to forces outside local administrative structures. Today,
the role of the governance system for public schools is complex, incorporating
multiple players and decision makers, including federal and state courts, U.S.
Congress, state governors, legislatures, community businesses, special interest
groups, teacher and administrator unions, and so forth (Danzberger & Usdan, 1994).
What are some of the issues that local school boards are facing? Specifically,
at the local level some problems of the existing roles of local school boards can be
described as (a) failing to provide leadership for reform, (b) tending to micromanage
schools and school districts, (c) setting priorities by special interests of individual
board members, (d) lacking the ability to govern effectively as a board, (e) failing to
exercise adequate policy oversight, lacking accountability measures, (f) failing to
communicate progress to the public, (g) exhibiting serious problems in their capacity
to develop relationships with superintendents, and (h) paying little attention to school
board performance and training (Danzberger, 1994; Foster, 1975). So, what can
happen to move local schools forward to be more functional, governmental entities?
Fundamental changes in the governance of local schools are needed to make
educational reform possible. School boards can be the political entity for control and
governance of local schools (Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994). The school board can be the
educational policy-setting entity of the school district (Carver, 1997). This focus on
educational policy can establish the school board as instrumental in educational
reform (Danzberger, 1994). The policy boards message to the entire school system
can be that systematic educational reform is its main mission (Kirst, 1994; Zlotkin,
1993). An example of systematic educational reform is the implementation of
content standards to improve student performance (Colorado Department of
Purposeful analysis of expectations of boards and a new definition of their
role can be accomplished by designing a coherent and integrated framework of
governance (Kirst, 1994). Such changes will re-focus local boards so that they can
become influential forces for change and improvement. Because school politics have
become much more complex in the last century, the reform of local school boards
may be the most politically difficult task in educational reform (Danzberger, 1994).
Focusing on policy could enhance the effectiveness of school boards and help end
their steady loss of influence in the policy-making role. Suggested reforms include
focusing the local school boards role primarily on the development of educational
policy (Kirst, 1994).
Systematic reform in schools includes changing the role of the school board
(First, 1992). Boards could develop consensus about the role of the board, purposes
of the educational institution governed, the constituencies to which the board is
accountable, the ways in which the board will relate to its constituencies, the goals
and strategies needed to achieve expected results, and the roles of board and
superintendent (Danzberger, 1994). Research on governance might profitably focus
on the effect of leadership and decision-making styles on policy making and
implementation (Adkinson, 1982). A new role for board members is to use the
capacity of the educational infrastructure of the community in decision making. In
this regard, this study assesses how local school boards utilize the capacity of their
educational communities to solve educational issues that affect local school boards,
administration, staff, parents, and community.
How will school boards know if they are using the stakeholders, who are the
infrastructure of the educational community, to govern more effectively? Local
school boards that utilize the capacity of the educational community to assist in their
governance role may be those school boards that more are more effective in
impacting educational reform (Carver & Carver, 1997). This study addresses the
school boards use of the capacity of the educational infrastructure of the community
for decision making to promote local educational reform in a meaningful and
This study asks whether significant differences can be found between
healthy educational infrastructures in communities and their implementation of
local educational reform, specifically the implementation of content standards in
reading and writing. My hypothesis is that local school boards that use the capacity
of the educational communities to assist in their governance role may be those school
boards that are more effective in instituting educational reform. This research may
contribute to the overall understanding of the role of local school boards as change
agents in educational reform at the local level.
Chapter 1 provided an introduction and statement of the problem for my
research study. Chapter 2 provides the review of research on the role of the local
school board, school board leadership, the development of educational policy, and the
process for educational change involving all stakeholders. Chapter 3 describes the
framework for the civic infrastructure of the educational community. Chapter 4
describes the processes used to develop the Civic Educational Infrastructure Survey
(CEIS), the rank ordering of the districts for proficiency levels, and the methodology
used to test the relation between civic educational infrastructure and student
achievement. Chapter 5 provides the analysis of the data for the hypothesis. Chapter
6 presents conclusions and implications for further research.
REVIEW OF RESEARCH
This review of literature on school boards focuses on the components that are
necessary for the board to utilize the capacity of the civic educational infrastructure of
the community. The review of the literature was used to build a framework for the
role of the school board in developing the following components: district
participation, leadership, school board performance, volunteerism and philanthropy,
intergroup relations, community civic education, information sharing, capacity for
cooperation and consensus building, vision and pride, and inter-community
cooperation. The review further focuses on how the school board can be instrumental
in educational reform. Specifically, the review of research emphasizes the role of the
local school board, school board leadership, implementation of educational policy,
and processes for educational change.
Role of the Local School Board
Important pieces to know about school boards include historical development,
role in a democracy, constitutional educational responsibility, theories of the politics
of education, expectations of constituents, and reform initiatives. A direction that can
begin needed reform is to reconsider the local school boards duties and functions as
determined by history, issues of democracy and representation, constitutional
educational responsibility, theories of the educational politics, and expectations by
constituents (Campbell & Greene, 1994). These elements are explored below.
Local school boards have functioned as public school governance for the last
200 years (Silva, 1994). The role of the school board in 2002 is different from that
developed in the 1800s. The role may need to focus on open communication and
trust with interested stakeholders. The roles of board members and superintendents
should be redefined to be cohesive with educational needs of the 21st century
Local school boards have functioned as the public school governance unit
throughout most of history. School boards are 18th-century institutions reformed
only once in the early 20th century. They are lay boards that have served the nation
through agrarian, industrial, informational, and technological stages of development
School district reforms of the early 1900s were guided by the following
assumptions: the general public good should have priority over specific interests,
responsible people should be able to define the general public interests, and the
separation of policy making to certain responsible people and the implementation of
policy to professionals (Greene, 1990). In 1910, reform focused on efficiency by
centralizing education in various jurisdictions, recognizing the need to use the
expertise of professionals, and eliminating political control of education. In the
1900s, municipal reforms created a separate governance structure for schools in most
jurisdictions (Kirst, 1994).
School boards were institutionally separated from general purpose
government so those members would be insulated from abuses of partisan politics.
Party line politics was removed from school district policymaking by eliminating
educational affiliation with political parties. This change also reduced the tendency
for corruptness often found in local government (Kirst, 1994).
The administration became the manager of the district, and the board was less
involved in operations of the district. School board members generally did not
respond to the citizens demands but referred the citizens to the administrators. The
history and tradition of local school boards have, in effect, removed public education
from the people and appear to work against strategies of open communication and
trust (Greene, 1990; Iannaccone, 1994).
Role in a Democracy
American democracy was developed to be a representative democracy. The
role of the school board in a democratic society is further explored from the
perspective that the school board is a governmental entity and that school board
members are elected politicians. Because school board members are elected they
need to be responsive to their constituents in setting educational policy for their
community (Lutz, 1980).
Public education in the United States is governed by school boards whose
members are elected by local citizens. Local school boards are not only democratic
but an essential grass-roots element of American democracy (Lutz, 1980). Citizen
oversight of local government is the cornerstone of American democracy. School
boards are valued because of Americas ambivalence about experts and expertise.
School boards act as buffers between citizens and professional educators and
represent the election of lay people to make local educational policy (Danzberger,
The issue of democratic governance has been a major concern in the study of
the politics of education. The democratic basis for the election of the school board is
the local representative governance in the community. The local school board could
be characteristic of the essence of democratic governance in our community.
Therefore, the school board, elected by the community, could have the political
support to lead educational changes (Shannon, 1994).
American democracy was developed as a representative democracy rather
than a direct democracy. An example of a direct democracy would be to provide
exactly what all the people want (Lutz, 1980). Representative democratic theory
provides that government should be accountable and responsive to its citizens for the
common good. Accountability, in a representative democracy, is provided is through
the election process (Taebel, 1978). Elections provide for the democratic control of
school boards by the community. The local school board is the educational policy-
maker for the community. In a society with many differing opinions about education,
elections are generally characterized by conflict over issues resulting in competition
for office (Shannon, 1994).
Constitutional Educational Responsibility
The United States Constitution delegated education as a function of the states.
The states, through their state constitutions, have delegated some responsibilities to
the local community via local school boards. States have chosen to establish local
school boards to carry out that function. The State of Colorado Constitution
addresses the base of political power to include power for educational decision-
making (Moloney, 2000; Randall, 1995). The local board of education is accountable
to the state board of education to be in compliance with state laws, rules anti
regulations (Sokol, 1989). Local school boards have specific obligations,
responsibilities, and duties that are granted to them based on state constitutions.
Areas of policy making are clearly stipulated in local board of education policies
(Shannon, 1971). Local school boards are relevant to school reform as a result of the
duties and powers given to them by the State Constitutions and thus need to be
considered a major part of educational reform.
How much power does the local school board really have in the early 21st
century? School board powers are granted by the state legislature and not from the
people of the local community (First, 1992). Increased control by the state and
federal governments over education issues has removed educational policy making
from local school boards (Bushweller, 1998; Iannaccone, 1994). Local school boards
in the 1990s have had their powers diminished by increased control of state and
federal governments over educational issues and educational policy (Kirst, 1994).
Theories of the Politics of Education
School board members are representatives of their constituents. Theories of
the politics of education can be applied to the perspectives that local school board
members have regarding their roles. Three theories of the politics of education will
be reviewed which describe the behaviors of school boards (Criswell & Mitchell,
1980; Innaconne & Lutz, 1994; Lutz, 1980). These theories are based on the notion
Continuous Participation Theory. The essence of this theory is that
democracy is continuous and universal participation is involved in political decisions.
However, in the decision-making of local school boards the participation of the public
is sporadic and very limited. Few people vote, few are involved in the
decision-making process, and issues are hidden from the public. Therefore,
continuous participation theorists do not view local school boards as very democratic
(Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994; Lutz, 1980).
Decision Output Theory. Using a systems approach, the demands made on
school boards (inputs) are measured against board decisions (outputs). In a
democracy, people can affect their own outcomes. The decisions of school boards,
however, often fail to do what individuals or groups demand. Decision output
theorists claim that local school boards are therefore not democratic
(Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994; Lutz, 1980).
Dissatisfaction Theory. Dissatisfaction theorists claim that the freedom to
participate in governance is the essential element of a democracy. The majority of
the public participates very little in school politics (school board decisions).
Participation in school governance increases when, and as, the people are dissatisfied
with school policy and want to change it. Most often, the majority of the pubic is
reasonably satisfied and do not bother to be involved. They exercise their liberty not
to participate. But when they are dissatisfied, they become involved. (Iannaccone &
Lutz, 1994; Lutz, 1980). Dissatisfaction occurs when a shift or change occurs in the
values of the larger society as compared to the elite school board. The dissatisfied
public will then elect board members who will enact policies reflecting the new
values (Adkinson, 1982). According to these theorists, election of local school board
members is democratic.
Summary of Theories. The difference in the three theories is that the
dissatisfaction theorists judge the political process of local school boards to be
democratic, to be the essential grass-roots unit of American democracy. Continuous
participation and decision output theorists do not judge the political process of local
school board to be democratic (Lutz, 1980). The different theories may account for
the perspectives that school board members have on how to perform their roles.
Dissatisfaction of the electorate can change school policy and practices to
conform to community preferences. The politics of education does allow for school
board changes if the constituents are dissatisfied with their elected board (Criswell &
Mitchell, 1980). The constituents have the capacity to change board members
through the elections. The politics of education does allow for school board changes
if the constituents are dissatisfied with their elected board (Tacheny, 1997). The
constituents have the capacity to change board members through the elections
Voters who are most interested in schools vote in school board elections.
They represent a cross-section of the community (Taebel, 1978). A lack of voter
participation in most school board elections may be viewed as evidence of
community satisfaction with schools. Congruence between school policies and public
preference is maintained through periodic shifts in board memberships. Shifts in the
demographic and ideological make-up of the community population can result in
dissatisfaction with the school policy formulated by a well-established school board.
Data suggests that the length of change of school board members extends well
beyond a single election (Criswell & Mitchell, 1980).
Expectations of Constituents
Should school board members behave according to political considerations
surrounding their positions as elected officials or in roles representing certain
interests of the school system as an organization (Black, 1998; Dickinson, 1970;
Lewis, 1989)? School board members, as policy makers and not managers, hire
superintendents for administrative issues. School board members are to avoid
politics and not become involved in the day to today administration of school
districts. However, conflicts and tensions arise when parents and community groups
view board members as representatives who should respond to their demands
School board members have unique roles from other elected officials. Even
though school board members are elected officials by their constituents, they are
expected to perform in a different manner in the educational arena than other
government entities. An example is the communication process of a school district
that is guided by a bottom-up communication system. School board members are
counseled not to intervene on behalf of parents as intervention will hinder the
effectiveness of the administration and weaken the educational program (Greene,
The dilemma is that school board members are uniquely elected legislators yet
the school district norms that have guided their behavior stress that they should not be
directly responsive to constituents (Taebel, 1978). Parents, in contrast, view board
members as their elected representatives, and believe that direct access to school
board members is the appropriate communication channel (Greene, 1990). Other
examples affecting the role of school board members include the norms of stressing
public consensus rather than individual desires, making decisions for the best interests
of all rather than particular groups, and utilizing the expertise of staff.
School board members need to be educational leaders and policy makers. The
local school board is the policy-making entity of the local school system (Black,
1998; Danzberger, 1994). School board members may perceive themselves as
representatives of the public or trustees of the system. School board members should
engage in the public debate as part of the policy decision making process. Most
school board members consider themselves as trustees for the people in pursuit of
excellence in education. They strive for consensus. They perceive themselves as
trustees for the system and not as delegates of the people (Lutz, 1980).
A decision-making style using trustee school board behavior is not
representative as such decision making does not represent democratic theory of
school governance. Trustee behaviors are characterized by school board members
who defend the system on the ground the power of some versus the desires of the
masses (Freud, 1984; Taebel, 1978).
The opposite of the trustees are the arena boards that believe they are
delegates of specific groups that have elected them and have the responsibility to
express the values and desires for those groups. Arena boards are most likely to
respond to citizens than trustee boards. Current research on the behavior of arena
school boards suggest that they are often responsive to parents and community
groups. Differences in responsiveness of boards as trustees or arena boards are
related to the socioeconomic status of the community, size and complexity of the
district, the competitiveness of school board elections, consensus within the district,
and plans to seek re-election (Greene, 1990).
Community conflict can drive school boards to behaviors more characteristic
of the arena board. Some boards favor greater communication and participation by
the public. This generally leads to making decisions through debate and
counterdebate. Policymaking is enacted by a majority vote. Animosities can develop
among board members; they are cast into one of two dichotomous roles either for or
against an issue. This is generally short lived as the board members in dissonance
tend to retire and the board reverts back to a trustee board (Lutz, 1980).
Distinguished from the content of what local school boards have the right
and responsibility to govern, another issue is how local school boards communicate
with their constituency to obtain information to make policy (Wiles, 1974).
Questions that can be formulated include the following: Should the local school
board represent the culture and desires of the community? and How does the local
school board balance what the community desires with what is considered
educationally sound as determined by research and best practices of state and
federally mandated programs? (Barlow, 1970).
Most school board members are representatives of the better-educated and
more economically advanced citizens of the community they represent. They have
internalized the values of the middle and upper social classes. They strive to do what
is best for the total community within their class values system (Iannaccone & Lutz,
1994). This value system is inherent in the culture of the board. School districts play
a significant role in the community. Major political questions faced by school boards
have a direct impact on community life. School district budgets are sizable and often
the largest in the community (Lutz, 1980).
Few attempts at local school board reforms have been initiated. Previous
reforms have attempted to shift the balance of power from the local school board to
school district employees (Richardson, 1975). This shift in the locus of control
toward employees does not promote citizen and parent control of local education.
In 1960, the New York City school district attempted to restructure its school
board to provide more community involvement in public school decision making
(Hendrie, 1997). The results of the reform were less than satisfactory because the
changes made represented tinkering rather than structural reform (First, 1992;
Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994).
Concern has arisen about transference of the control of local districts from the
school board to the organized professional employees. In New York, a Danforth
study team noted that it was the custodian group that effectively closed the New York
schools and channeled hundreds of millions of school tax dollars into the pockets of
its constituency at the expense of children (Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994). Due to the
many issues that school employees have about salary and benefits, conflict situations
from staff can present a higher tension than other groups. A shift in control from the
school board toward employees does not represent citizen and parent control.
The Chicago reform focuses on site level reform versus local school board
district control. This reform signifies the weakness of the current local school board
governance system (First, 1992; Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994). In the 1990s, the
Chicago reform attempted to return local control and decision making to
neighborhood communities. The Chicago reform sought to restructure the citys
school governance structure to the site level. It is not known whether this reform will
result in political rhetoric or real reform. Regardless, the Chicago reform signifies the
weakness of the local school board governance system of the early 1900s (First, 1992;
Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994).
Other communities have considered taking away the powers of the local
school board and giving them to local politicians. In Cleveland, a bill was proposed
to give control of the public school system to the mayor (Olson, 1997; White, 1998).
A similar concept was contemplated in the Indianapolis schools (Reinhard, 1997). In
New Jersey, the state takeover of the public school system was intended to turn the
failing system around. Additional reform movements have focused on having
politicians and non-educators take over the leadership for education at the state and
local levels (Hurwitz, 2001; Johnston, 1998; Winters, 2000). Some reform
movements have suggested the privatization of public education (Mason, 2001).
Concerns were expressed that if the state was able to change the system to be more
effective, would this change be long term when the state gave the school system back
to local control (Wilson, 1998)?
Summary of the Role of the Local School Board
The nature of school reform in the local school board is extensive. Schlechty,
1997, advocates that local boards need to view themselves as policy makers,
developing coherence, and as the moral and cultural leaders of their communities.
School board members are the chief decision-makers for schools and links between
the school and community, and they translate the public vision through board
decisions (Danzberger & Usdan, 1994; Riles, 1974). Board members have significant
cultural impact as they establish relationships between the schools and the
community. School board members establish standards of behavior, patterns of
relationships and are accountable for the quality of the teaching/leaming process
Strategies needed to change the role of school boards include efforts to move
decision-making authority closer to the community. However, efforts to involve
more citizens directly in decision-making must be in compliance with the overall
governance function of the school board (Shannon, 1994). The notion of the local
council can improve student achievement. Citizens generally want to provide more
input in policy making. Parents are asking for greater voice in the education of their
children (Kersten, 1982; Wadsworth, 1997). Citizens have more opportunities to
influence public decisions in a school district than in any other governing arena
(Iannaccone & Lutz, 1994).
People have the right to work cooperatively with school boards toward the
improvement of education (Nrandt, 1998). Teacher organizations are working on
making the role of teachers in the decision-making process more significant (Peck,
1988). School boards can be productive with organized community support (Nolte,
1971). Effective citizen committees can advise on educational matters after inquiry
into various issues (Wagner, 1997). Community groups could find various solutions
that may lead to appropriate community action. Citizen committees can be proactive
rather than reactive. Community groups can be of service to overextended boards,
can gain community understanding and support, and bring community and schools
closer together. When the recommendations of citizen committees are made, the
board has a moral obligation to carefully consider such recommendations (Muniz,
Changing the roles of school boards toward policy making boards and
restructuring the roles of stakeholders can provide for effective leadership and
governance of schools. Local school boards can still maintain control over the
standards for the education of students and the expenditure for tax dollars (Campbell
& Greene, 1994; Pauly, 1987). The local school board becomes credible when their
policy reform is consistent with the communitys values and resources (Shannon,
Major policy development within a school system can involve staff, parents
and community. Boards cannot dismiss their legal responsibilities for adoption of
school policy but can be instrumental in obtaining community involvement in the
development of policies (Kearns, 1982; Greene, 1990).
School Board Leadership
School board leadership is presented here using both broad and specific
contexts. The first examines general school board leadership in a broad context from
the perspective of multiple authors. It focuses on the development of leadership
capacity among the school board, parents, community, and staff, and the development
of the capacity for consensus building among the stakeholders. The second context
focuses on the perspectives of three educational leaders ideas about educational
reform and the role of school board leadership in the reform process. These three
educators were selected because they provide different frames of reference to
consider the arena of school board leadership and educational reform.
Context One: General School Board Leadership
A school board can make a difference in a successful district. Many of the
policies and initiatives in successful districts include the school board being
knowledgeable about district programs and practices, having a clearer sense of what
they want to accomplish based on a set of firmly held values and beliefs, and
engaging in activities which provided them with opportunities to articulate these
values and beliefs (Good, 1998). School board leadership can develop capacities in
stakeholder groups such as school board members, parents, community members, and
staff as well in the components of leadership and consensus building.
Developing School Board Capacity. In continuing to develop their own
leadership capacity, school board members can prioritize their professional
development to be more effective and efficient policy makers and leaders of the
school community (Campbell & Greene, 1994). School board members should be
committed to working together as a board that carries out their duties and roles per
the state constitution. They should develop a shared vision to promote educational
excellence in the school system (Seitz, 1994).
From a school boards perspective, they may be concerned about and
responsible for educational decisions but often have limited knowledge of education.
School boards have a direct responsibility for education but are often unfamiliar and
not confident about their knowledge of technical matters and educational issues. The
board can be aware of processes such as transition, change, conflict resolution, and
mediation to be prepared for dealing with conflicts between policy and desires of the
stakeholders. The local school board needs to be aware of and supportive of the
planning processes that should include understanding the process of change,
identifying all stakeholders roles in change, acting by influencing those factors that
are changeable, and diminishing the power of those that are not. This requires a
thoughtful perspective about educational change including knowledge of the balance
of research and experiential knowledge. It is necessary to combine knowledge from
professional inquiry and ordinary knowledge.
The board should be aware of and involved in discussions about the
development, adoption, implementation and evaluation of policy (Drake, 1981). The
board should develop knowledge about national and state laws and processes for
determining legislation regarding issues that impact school districts. The board can
commit to be informed and involved at these levels (Hazard, 1975). Board
development should include a process of gaining knowledge about current research,
educational practices, and mandates. Such a commitment is necessary to be informed
and involved (Reecer, 1989).
Developing Parent and Community Capacity. Due to the changing
populations of many school districts, it is important for boards to establish or re-
establish shared values, goals, and beliefs of parent and community on a regular basis
(First, 1992). The community needs may change but the roles of the board remain the
same. The board could meet with parents and community members to develop an
understanding of the procedural and substantive aspects of the educational system as
well as the cultural aspects of the educational community (Lutz, 1980). This provides
the board with information from parents and community members regarding their
desires for the education of their youth (Heller, 1984).
Boards can use various strategies to communicate more effectively with
parents and community members. A role of the school board is to be a public
relations advocate for the schools to keep the community informed of policies and
activities of the district (Milo, 1997). The communication of school board policy is
important to keep the community informed (Wiles, 1974). Educators also need to
engage the public (Wadsworth, 1997). Leadership in the schools focuses on school
and community relationships (Orlosky, McCleary, Shapiro, & Webb, 1984).
Communication by the board with the parents and community can be significant in
influencing the initiation or rejection of new policies and reforms (Gullatt, 1997).
Critical roles of school boards beyond governance are the building of relationships
with advisory councils/associations, community and school relations, and
collaboration with other agencies (Doherty, 1971).
The board can develop a structure to include stakeholder involvement in
consideration of the desires of the community (Hatch, 1998). In a community that
wants involvement, a structure of committees can be established to provide input for
policy development such as accountability committees, budget committees, and
facility committees (Garfield, 1986; Muniz, 1969). The composition of such
committees needs to reflect the diversity of the community represented by the board.
Communities can exert influence by putting pressure on the district to do
something, to do nothing, or to oppose a proposed action. The most prevalent role of
school boards is to do nothing, to demonstrate passive support by not initiating, or,
not to have any major role in decisions about innovative programs. Major
demographic changes lead to the development of community activism, selection of
new board members, selection of a new superintendent, restructuring roles, and so
forth (Vail, 1996). Cumulative community pressure can lead to successful change or
to endless conflicts between the community and the district (Irvine, 1998). Boards
establish the relationship between the school and the community (Svenson, 1970).
Developing Staff Capacity. The board could use a variety of strategies to
communicate more effectively with the staff in the school district. Identified
personnel factors for a school board to realize success in a district include the hiring
of a superintendent, creating a role for central district personnel, defining
expectations for principals, creating incentives for staff, and professional
development for staff (Smith, 1989; Zlotkin, 1993). Identified policy factors include
purposeful leadership, intellectual challenges for teachers, and accountability. The
board could have work sessions with the superintendent, central staff positions, and
building principals to discuss current policies and procedures. School boards are
dependent on central administration for access to information (Black, 1998).
The board needs to establish an effective working relationship with the
superintendent (Eadie, 1998). The role of the superintendent has changed over the
last twenty years from that of the manager of a homogenous system to one of the
negotiator and conflict manager of a heterogeneous system with diverse interest
groups. The relationship between the superintendent and the school board is
important for policy adoption and implementation (Hentges, 1986; Relic, 1986). This
is critical for all aspects of policy development, for the operation of the district; and
focus on the culture of the district/community (McAdams, 1996).
Initiation of change can occur with the local school board as an advocate of
the superintendents ideas for innovation (Greene, 1992). School board members can
support or mandate initiation of change. Boards can also put pressure on
superintendents for the development of their policies (Dickinson, 1973). The manner
in which the superintendent acts on a mandate from the board is dependent on this
relationship (Moran, 1975). An appropriate mandate could transform the district; an
inappropriate mandate could negatively impact the district. School boards can
indirectly affect implementation by hiring or firing reform-oriented superintendents.
In situations where the school board and the superintendent are actively working
together, substantiated improvement can be achieved compared to situations where
the school board and the superintendent are in conflict and working in opposition. /"'
Successful boards also worked more actively and interactively with superintendents
and central administrators.
Developing Leadership Capacity. Research indicates that, to be effective
leaders, school boards can be an educational policy making board and should not be
the decision-makers for non-policy issues (Brodinsky, 1973; Kirst, 1994; McGhehey,
1973). School board members are elected representatives of the community to carry
out their duties and roles (Finch, 1993; Murphy, 1992; Shannon, 1994). School board
members could be recognized as leaders in the school community because of their
policy-making role (Edwards, 1988; Mullins, 1971; Schlechty, 1992). In carrying out
this important function, school board members can develop strategies to share their
leadership capacity with other stakeholders (Behnke, 1990).
Boards can use various strategies to communicate more effectively with their
stakeholders. The school board could provide information to all stakeholders about
the role of the school board members (Danzberger & Usdan, 1992). The school board
can work in a more collaborative manner with all stakeholders to better understand
everyones roles (Foster, 1975). Furthermore, school board members can seek out
additional sources of leadership from all of the stakeholders in the educational
community to include parents, administrators, staff and community members (Lewis,
The roles of all stakeholders should be discussed and norms/agreements made
based on these roles (Pauly, 1987). The board can review and or establish policies
and procedures about centralized and decentralized decision making in the district.
This will significantly impact how all stakeholders operate and agree to behave based
on community standards (Greene, 1990).
The board can establish or re-confirm the communication processes that will
be used among the board, staff, parents, students, and community (Marlowe, 1997).
A focus can be on how the stakeholders communicate with each other, regular board
communications such as agendas, minutes and, reports, and how to deal with conflicts
in a proactive manner (Good, 1997). This also provides linkage between the school
district, other organizations and agencies, and the media (Danzberger, 1994;
McCormick, 1983; Riles, 1974). Strategies identified for developing capacity should
include the school board, parents, community, and the school district staff.
Developing Consensus Building Capacity. The board could develop their
skills to more effectively deal with consensus and capacity building with
stakeholders. The orientation of the school board in dealing with community
demands can be either a problem-solving orientation or a bureaucratic orientation
(Campbell & Greene, 1994). Community demands may or may not result in initiation
of policy set by the Board. Conflict avoidance is a major orientation of school boards
(Page, 1970). Innovations that involve major value differences can easily be blocked
by a local minority if they play up the controversially of the change. Highly educated
communities correlate substantially with the adoption of innovations for students
The policy maker (school board) and the local practitioner (school district)
can both underestimate the problems and processes of implementation of policy.
Each side can be ignorant of the subjective reality of the world of the other. The
quality of relationships is crucial to support change efforts and reconciling problems
when there is conflict among these groups. Local school systems and school boards
need to establish a process relationship with each other (Scamati, 1998).
Summary of Context One. The school board can be more effective as leaders
in the educational community by focusing on the development of leadership and
consensus building among school board members, parents, community, and staff.
The board has the responsibility to increase their own professional development to be
more effective and efficient in carrying out their roles and duties. The development
of leadership capacity by the board can better utilize the resources of the parents,
community, and staff to be more effective in promoting educational reform. The
need to develop capacity for consensus building promotes the working relationship of
Context Two: Specific School Board Leadership
The second framework focuses on specific issues of school board leadership
by summarizing the perspectives of three educational leaders ideas about educational
reform and the role of school board leadership in the reform process. Specifically,
they focus on how school boards can build capacity in district participation,
cooperation and consensus building, vision and pride, leadership, inter-group
relations, and intercommunity cooperation. These three educatorsTerrence Deal,
Michael G. Fullan, and Thomas Sergiovanni-provide different frames of reference to
consider the arena of school board leadership and educational reform.
Terrence Deal. Deals (1982,1996) assumptions derived about leadership are
based on his cultural perspective of reform by addressing the role of symbols and
culture in the organization. He identifies successful communities as those who
connect with each other by building capacity in roles. The symbols and culture are
the core of the organization which leaders must embrace in developing their policies.
Local school boards are leaders of the educational organization; they need to
consider the culture of their organization as they set policy. The leadership that the
local school board can give the organization could be to assume the role of the
cultural leader of the organization. Strategies that Deal has developed for all leaders
will be generalized to the school board in their role to develop capacity for district
participation, cooperation and consensus building, leadership, and vision and pride.
Capacity for District Participation. The local school board can promote the
solution of problems by involving the stakeholders to actively participate in the
organization. The stakeholders are identified as the administrators, teachers, support
staff, students, parents, and community members. The board can have a significant
influence in the district by allowing and encouraging the stakeholders to solve
problems, develop solutions, and be the promoters of ideas. The pride that those in
the organization will have by putting their signature on their work will enhance the
community spirit of the school district. Work will not be viewed as just a job but a
part of the communitys shared values for education.
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building. The local school board
can promote caring and compassion for those in the organization by developing
capacity for cooperation and consensus building. Such collaboration will be
reciprocal when given and received appropriately. If the stakeholders believe that the
local school board really cares about them and what they have to offer/give to the
organization, both easy (adding staff and programs) and difficult situations
(eliminating staff and programs) will be more workable for the good of the whole
organization. The sense of unity, importance of communication, and modeling the
culture of the school district can be the leadership role of the board.
The local school board can empower stakeholders as leaders, to be responsible
for the organization. When employees are not given power, the result can be
sabotage, passive resistance, withdrawal, or anger. Allowing for empowerment can
utilize productive energy. Power allows people to work together for the common
cause of the school district. The role of the school board as a cultural leader of the
organization can provide a balance of management and leadership responsibilities for
all stakeholders in the school district. This orientation of the school board can also
influence their perspective of the leadership roles of others such as the
superintendent, principals, committees, and so forth. The focus by the school board
on the culture of the school district could be powerful and have a significant impact
on educational reform.
Capacity for Vision and Pride. The local school board can influence others to
feel that they are significant and make a difference in the school system by creating a
sense of vision and pride in the organization. A sense of significance can be
developed by board members working with the stakeholders in the
organization. By working together, everyone in the organization will realize that they
are doing something worth doing and making the school district a better place for
adults and children. The school board can play a significant role in making sure that
celebration, ceremony, and rituals occur to signify the organization. These
celebrations will provide the spiritual glue for the school district. These celebrations
will make all stakeholders feel that the organization is theirs and not the school
Michael G. Fullan. Fullan (1991,1993, 1995), using a systemic model,
suggests that educational change can be achieved if schools replace some structures,
programs and/or practices with better ones. He defines change not according to the
number of policies or restructuring efforts undertaken but what actually changes in
practice as a result of these efforts. Meaningful educational change includes what
should change as well as how to go about the change process, according to Fullan.
Fullans theme for meaningful educational change includes the relationship
between educational and societal change. Strategies that Fullan has developed for all
stakeholders will be generalized to the school board in their role to develop capacity
for district participation, leadership, and inter-group relations.
Capacity for District Participation. Fullans assumptions about school district
leadership are based on his systemic perspective on educational reform and the
participation of stakeholders in the organization. The school board represents the
school district from the context of parents and community members and their
influence on the development and implementation of educational policy. The
importance of the role of parents/community in educational reforms has been
underestimated. Educators interested in effective educational reform need to
acknowledge that school boards and communities are essential for the implementation
of many reforms. The school board is critical for endorsement for reforms, provision
of necessary resources, and accountability for results.
Capacity for Leadership. Institutional renewal will focus on new forms of
leadership, collegiality, commitment to and mechanisms for continuous improvement.
The solution is for all to get involved in the whole school. The solution lies in
complex and diversified masses of highly engaged individuals working on the
creation of conditions for continuous renewal while being shaped by new conditions.
Individual and institutional renewal must be pursued simultaneously by all
stakeholders to effect educational reform. The continuum of leadership will range
within the organization and should focus on the teacher/ leadership as a collaborative
Capacity for Inter-Group Relations. Fullans theme for educational change
includes reculturing, leadership, systems reorganization, parent development, and the
change process. Reculturing of the organization emphasizes the building of
relationships focusing on peoples time and organizational structure. The priority is to
identify and provide for building the capacity of the organization. All stakeholders
need to express moral purpose, commitment, collaboration, and critical inquiry.
Systems reorganization focuses on the district/school relations. School based
decision making needs external factors to make it work. Coordinated decentralization
will focus on families of schools within the organization. Parent involvement should
be recognized as an actual strategy. Focus on the capacity of the parents through
teacher education in roles. The change process should be initiated recognizing the
capacity for change. Identify that change is nonlinear. Slow down on an individual
and group basis. Be persistent and give change time.
The systems change approach to managing educational change, as
recommended by Fullan, can be used to focus on the local school boards role in
effective educational reform. The local school boards role is significant from several
perspectives in their role to develop capacity for district participation, leadership, and
Thomas J. Sergiovanni. Sergiovannis (1996a, 1996b) assumptions about
school district leadership are based on a moral leadership perspective on educational
reform. Sergiovannis view of the schoolhouse has a greater focus than just the
consideration of the school community. Strategies that Sergiovanni has developed for
all stakeholders will be generalized to the school board in their role to develop
capacity for inter-community cooperation, inter-group relations, leadership, and
Capacity for Intercommunity Cooperation. Sergiovanni proposes a societal
reculturing based on a democratic legacy of the United States in the year 1776. The
focus is on a covenental polity founded by the American founders which requires
citizens to subordinate private interests (individuality) to the general good
(commonality) and to agree on shared values, goals, and virtues.
Capacity for Inter-Group Relations. The role of the local school board as a
steward would be establishing purpose, building consensus of school constituents,
institutionalizing values, providing for the cultural needs of the members, linking
members to the goals of the greater district community, removing obstacles and
providing resources for members to meet their commitments, accepting
responsibility by modeling purposes and values, and providing necessary oversight.
Capacity for Leadership. The role of the school board as a steward could be
re-focused based on the powers and duties that the board would be allowed. These
would be narrowed significantly from the powers and duties that are currently
afforded local school boards based on the state constitutions. Specifically, the role of
the local school board would be very specific. Other stakeholders would be given a
variety of leadership roles.
Capacity for District Participation. Several changes would include creating
local school councils whose role would be to set educational policy at the school level
and site-based management, providing guidance by having an explicit constitution
containing protections and freedoms for the school councils to function
autonomously, and having consistent school district regulations regarding safety, due
process, equity, fiscal procedures, and a few basic academic standards. These would
not be developed by the local school board but would be developed by the local
school councils within a framework of shared goals and values adopted by the local
school board. This strategy would be more consistent with the moral community
approach in the learning community of the school.
The moral leadership approach to educational change, as recommended by
Sergiovanni, can be used to focus on the local school boards role in effective
educational reform. The local school boards role is significant from several
perspectives in their role to develop capacity for inter-community cooperation, inter-
group relations, leadership, and district participation.
Summary of Deal. Fullan, and Sergiovanni. A theme that all three theorists
have in common is their focus on the cultural frame of the educational system and the
significant impact that the cultural arena can have on effective educational reform.
The use of the term cultural arena is made to identify the need to establish capacity in
the educational system in district participation, leadership, inter-group relations,
collaboration and consensus building and intercommunity cooperation. These
capacities are built by developing effective communication with stakeholders,
building relationships with constituents, allowing for stakeholder leadership and
participation, and working on consensus building and collaboration.
Summary of School Board Leadership
Several issues are critical in considering the local school boards leadership
role in educational reform. Perspectives toward the reform of the roles of school
board members were presented from general and specific contexts. These capacities
include: district participation, leadership, inter-group relations, vision and pride,
collaboration and consensus building and inter-community cooperation.
Development of Educational Policy
The development of educational policy will be considered from the levels of
initiation of policy and the steps of policy development. Not all policy development
is initiated at the local school board level. A review of other governmental policy
levels will be made to consider such impact on the local school board. The steps in
the development of educational policy will be reviewed as the literature suggests the
role of the school board to be in policy adoption but not policy implementation.
Firestone (1989) presents a conceptual framework of the development of educational
policy incorporating both the levels of initiation of policy and the steps of policy
Governmental Levels of Policy Initiation
The impact of policy development at the local level by mandated federal and
state policies is having a significant impact on decisions of the local school board
(Kersten, 1982). State and federal governments have appropriated greater portions of
policy making from local school districts (Iannacone & Lutz, 1994). Federal
initiatives can mandate new legislation or policy at the local district level. State
governments are increasingly mandating new programs and procedures (Fuhrman et
al., 1991; Sroufe, 1971).
The degree of interaction between federal and state policies significantly vary
from cohesive to noncohesive (Odden, 1991). School boards are often left out of
reform movements (Murphy, 1992). The role of the local school board may be
decreasing (Hazard, 1975). The local school board has not been an integral
component in educational reform (Austuto et al., 1994). The role of the school board
needs to change for the board to be a significant factor in educational reform (Muth &
Educational policymaking, currently made at other governmental levels, could
be shifted to the local school board (Regan, 1987). Federal policies of deregulation
could focus on local educational policy development (Maldonado, 1984). Lobbying
needs to be towards a grass roots local school board emphasis (Penning, 1986).
Priorities could then represent community input (Nrandt, 1998; Nyquist, 1972).
School boards can adopt policies that reflect community priorities (Barlow, 1970).
Federal and state policies are often intentionally left ambiguous and general.
This may be to promote more local policy acceptance and adoption and avoid conflict
at the policy- development level. In practice, this makes it easier for local districts to
adopt a policy in principle (Anderson, 1989; Wills & Peterson, 1992). School boards
should also be aware of policy issues that other districts are dealing with and be
proactive in dealing with them (Anderson, 1989). Despite these federal and state
policy issues imposed on the locals school board, local control does continue to exist
(Henderson, 1995). Local school boards are realizing the importance of taking
responsibility for education and assuming more local control of education (Mullins,
1971). The future of local community control of education depends on how local
school board develop educational policy for reform (Schlechty, 1992). The role of
the local school board in educational policy making may look very different by the
year 2002 (Nolte, 1972). School boards can have a major impact in instructional
improvements based on their setting of educational policy and the district staff
implementing the policy (Elmore, 1993).
Major problems also tend to occur at the implementation level, not just the
policy development level (Buhrmaster, 1971). In the 1980s, policies became
increasingly more prescriptive in many states that resulted in resistance in local
implementation. School districts are consumers of federal and state policy. School
boards could be active at the federal and state levels to influence policies that will
impact district implementation (Fuhrman & Elmore, 1990). The local school board
could also adopt policies that would be implemented in the local district. School
reform based on the initiation of educational policy by the local school board could be
made at the technological, political and cultural levels of the district (House, 1996).
Capacity Building in Policy Adoption and Implementation
The board can develop the capacity of all stakeholders while adopting and
implementing policies. Local school board members should focus on policy
development and not be the determiners of policy implementation (Edwards, 1988;
Wagner, 1992). Educational policy making is one of the boards most important roles
(McGhehey, 1973). The role of the local school board in implementation could be
participatory. The board and the district staff could work together as a team to
ultimately develop and implement policies being aware of the roles of all involved
(Mclntire, 1982). Effective implementation of policy can be dependent on a
combination of many factors to include the culture of the organization, the make up
of the local district, the character of the district and individual schools, and the
existence of external relationships (Bolman & Deal, 1991; Schein, 1985; Young,
The degree of local involvement may be differentiated between policy
development and implementation. Local school boards could be selective in
implementing state policy. School districts may not need to accept everything in
implementation but select those that produce effective results (Bradby, 1994). School
boards can improve the capacity of the district to implement state policy. The school
board should ask what the policy would look like in practice. Reforms adapt to and
capitalize on variability by applying active problem solving at the local level. Policy
changes begin at the classroom level or educational reform may not occur (Slavin,
1996). Findings indicate little correlation between state control of policy and local
innovations adopted (Levin, 1973).
The school board needs to be connected with what is occurring in the district
to develop the capacity to make good decisions in setting educational policy. Leaders
in successful schools supported and stimulated initiative taking by others (Mitchell,
1980). Some boards set up steering groups consisting of teachers, administrators, and
board members to obtain input for policy making (Doherty, 1971). Developing
collaborative work cultures is central to the theme of developing working
relationships (Giandomenico, 1989; Peck, 1988). An atmosphere of openness and
sharing could precede school board policymaking (Trecker, 1970).
In some situations, it may be important with other priorities to get a major
policy on the books, leaving implementation until later. The first priority may be
policy initiation, not implementation. The promotion of implementation through
incentives and the emergence of new implementers may generate results (Joyce,
1993). The relationships of board members, administration, and the public are
important for educational policy to impact reform (Hentschke, 1980).
Implementation of policy is ongoing. The school as a workplace is organized
and structured by organizational arrangements and formal policies that develop
working conditions that support improvement (Ratsoy, 1976). Administrators are
accountable for the implementation of board policy (Funk et al., 1990). School
boards need to recognize the toll that the implementation phase can have on staff.
Turnover of staff, teachers and administrators can have a significant impact on
implementation of policy. School boards can help generate extra energy by
developing or supporting continuous staff development opportunities for teachers,
administrators, and board members.
Summary of Educational Policy Development
Educational policy was reviewed considering the governmental levels of
policy initiation and the organizational levels of policy adoption and implementation.
Effective school boards could develop their political capacity to become involved in
state and federal levels of policy adoption. Effective school boards could also to
develop the capacity of the educational community to involve staff and parents in the
implementation of adopted board policy (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Fernandez, 1995).
Process for Educational Change:
The Involvement of All Stakeholders
School boards can build capacity for change in their organizations by
involving all of the stakeholders in the change process. The more the stakeholders
are involved in the change process, the more they may effectively implement
educational reform based on school board policy. School boards need to recognize
that it is important for many stakeholders to be involved in the educational process.
These stakeholders involve staff, parents, community members, and students. The
board needs to develop the notion that an educational infrastructure is needed to make
decisions to solve the problems of the 21st century. Problems and solutions need to
be the responsibility of all stakeholders.
Educational change research identifies the need to have stakeholders actively
involved in decision-making and solution seeking (Deal, 1996; Fullan, 1995;
Sergiovanni, 1996a). Information about the educational system can be learned from
both internal and external constituencies. Productive alliances, including many
stakeholders, know few boundaries. The individual and the learning organization
must mobilize efforts and collaboration among a number of constituencies to include
parents, community members, students, and staff (Blair, 1998). Collaboration and
interdependence should be the focus of all stakeholders. Power within the
organization should be widely and thinly distributed. The school board should be
recognized as a key actor but only one actor in developing and implementing
solutions to educational problems.
Organizations having diverse stakeholders can represent the complexity of the
organization. Organizations, such as school districts, are complex, ambiguous, and
contradictory. A close relationship exists between how the stakeholders think and
organize their institutions. Stakeholders think about their organizations from
different standpoints. Organizations can create solutions by adding stakeholders to
the decision making process. Stakeholder involved in the organization tend to be
more ready and adaptable for change (Fullan, 1993). In changing organizations,
including school systems, stakeholders may develop a different mind set. New
attitudes, skills, behaviors, and information can be acquired by the stakeholders to
effect change (Morgan, 1986).
Organizations cannot make fundamental changes in isolation. The inclusion
of external and internal coalitions are needed to make effective changes (Fullan,
1993). Effective organizational change involves the use of stakeholders from other
areas to provide new ideas, new information, new organizational theory and
technology. External coalitions offer can allow for objectivity that can be distorted
by internal conflicts. Complex and wide-reaching change can be accomplished when
organizations utilize the assistance of coalitions in decision-making and problem
solving (Fullan, 1995).
Communities need to focus on developing new strategies and tools to get
stakeholders to agree on a plan and then work together to achieve it. The new
educational infrastructure focuses on stakeholder participationactive participation
that empowers individuals and gives them a sense of ownership in their educational
infrastructure. To build a strong educational infrastructure the stakeholders from all
sectors and comers of the community have to come together to build their problem
The restructuring of the social contract can significantly change the way that
local boards of education do business. The reculturing and restructuring in a school
district will involve the development of an educational infrastructure in the
community that allows for the active engagement of all stakeholders in educational
decisional making and solution seeking (Sergiovanni, 1996).
Continued involvement of all stakeholders and a broad commitment to values
of openness, equality and mutual respect are the foundations of a healthy educational
infrastructure in the community. Together the community can recognize that
problems exist, that priorities must be constantly renegotiated within the social
community and that individuals, groups, non-profits, businesses and other
governmental entities need to work together.
The framework for constructive dialogue and substantive problem solving
among community leaders is the educational infrastructure that can be developed.
The basis for a healthy infrastructure is a well-developed sense of personal
responsibility for educational success among all stakeholders (Blair, 1998). School
boards can build capacity in their organizations by involving all of the stakeholders in
the change process. Stakeholder involvement builds capacity in participation,
leadership, inter-group relations, community civic education, information sharing,
cooperation and consensus building, and inter-community cooperation.
Summary of Chapter 2
Chapter 2 provided a literature review focusing on the ten components
necessary for boards to utilize the capacity of the civic educational infrastructure of
the community. The literature review built a framework for the role the school board
and how they could incorporate these ten components. The review further focused on
the role of the school board in educational reform. Specifically, the review of
research emphasized the role of the local school board, school board leadership,
implementation of educational policy, and processes for educational change.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE
The conceptual framework for this dissertation is based on how the local
school board uses the civic educational infrastructure of the community to problem
solve issues and promote educational change. The conceptual framework for the
educational infrastructure of the community was adapted from the conceptual
framework for the civic infrastructure of the community developed by the National
Civic League (National Civic League, 1993b).
First, a review of the civic infrastructure is presented, including the theoretical
basis for the civic infrastructure and the identification of the components of the civic
infrastructure. Then, the Civic Index, the instrument used to measure the strengths
and needs of the community, is described (National Civic League, 1993a). Next, the
concept of the civic educational infrastructure is presented, adapting the ten
components of the civic infrastructure to ten similar components for the civic
educational infrastructure. These ten components of the civic educational
infrastructure are then described. The Civic Educational Index, the instrument
developed from this process, measures the strengths and needs of the educational
infrastructure of the community.
The Civic Infrastructure of the Community
A civic infrastructure, according to the National Civic League, is a means of
identifying community resources that can be used to strengthen and improve civic
decision making and problem-solving (National Civic League, 1993b). The civic
infrastructure includes ten components identified by the National Civic League:
citizen participation, community leadership, government performance, use of
volunteers, intergroup relations, civic education, community information sharing,
cooperation and consensus building, community vision and pride, and inter-
community cooperation. These ten components were used by the National Civic
League to develop their instrument, the Civic Index, to measure the communities
strengths in their civic infrastructure (National Civic League, 1993a).
The National Civic League has used the civic infrastructure model in working
to make community organizations such as town councils, city government,
communities, and community leadership groups more effective governmental
agencies. Governmental bodies can develop more effective decision-making by
collaborating with the civic infrastructure of the community. The active participation
of all stakeholders in a community helps build alliances and partnerships that can lead
to productive changes (National Civic League, 1993a).
To provide an understanding of the civic infrastructure developed by the
National Civic League, a review of the literature of the civic infrastructure of the
community will be provided which will include a description of the ten components
in the Civic Index-
Review of LiteratureCivic Infrastructure
Studies find that democracy works in civic communities (Putnam, 1993). He
found that one of the best predictors of good government and the implementation of
democratic practices is the extent to which citizens are engaged in public issues and
take an active role in politics. He states that social and political networks are
organized horizontally and that the correlation between civic engagement and
effective government is virtually perfect. The social capital, the networks, and the
norms of social engagement are the investments in our nation that are made at the
local level. Democracy can be revitalized by beginning to rebuild our social capital
in our communities by renewing our civic connections (Putnam).
The formal and informal processes and networks through which communities
make decisions and solve problems is described as the civic infrastructure (Parr,
1993). Successful communities honor and nurture their civic infrastructure, and
interdependence among stakeholders makes for vital communities, communities in
which the boundaries between stakeholders tend to blur. A healthy community is one
in which the quantity and quality of interactions among its stakeholders is high, one
in which stakeholders invest as a community to develop norms of trust, reciprocity,
and civic engagement through which decisions are made and problems addressed.
The ability to build the capacity of the stakeholders facilitates the sharing of
resources, power, and information (Parr, 1993).
Active involvement of stakeholders in the community facilitates effective,
efficient, and accountable regional governance (Wallis, 1993). Regional problem
solving can provide the capacity to identify problems and opportunities, to achieve
and sustain consensus to support specific actions, and to focus resources within the
community. Such approaches to regional problem solving draw upon all stakeholders
in the regional milieu. Further, finding a common purpose within diversity
transcends individual interest for community interests (Wallis).
The increasing number of complex challenges and problems faced by
communities necessitates intersectoral collaboration (Grell & Gappert, 1993).
Intersectoral collaboration can be more effectively achieved by individuals and
groups sharing information, power, and resources. Examples of such intersecotral
collaboration include conservation of resources, strength and synergy from diversity,
and a sense of community that appreciates the complexity that unites us. Decision-
making is based on a new thought process and vision that emphasizes strength
through diversity and forward-looking action (Grell & Gappert).
The civic infrastructure of the future is described as being representative of
the complexity of the 21st century. A new moral infrastructure based upon a sense of
spirituality, civic responsibility, mutual obligation, and social restraint is proposed.
Future leaders, using intersectoral collaboration, can make decisions that turn
potential conflict into positive action. The civic infrastructure provides for
opportunities for social and cultural growth, flourishing of human potential,
expansion of educational opportunities, increased citizen participation in public
affairs and a renewed responsibility to the entire human community (Grell &
Components of the Ci vic Infrastructure
The underlying components of the Civic Index are citizen participation,
community leadership, government performance, volunteerism and philanthropy,
intergroup relations, civic education, community information sharing, capacity for
cooperation and consensus building, community vision and pride and inter-
community cooperation. These ten components have been identified as the capacities
and competencies that exist in communities that exhibit a solid community
infrastructure that allows them to build their community problem solving capacity
(National Civic League, 1993b). The ten components are described below.
Citizen participation is necessary to develop and maintain a strong
community. Such participation can be identified in the political, community, and
neighborhood arenas. Examples of citizen participation include voting, serving on
boards, attending public meetings, and active involvement in civic organizations.
Active citizen participation involves asking questions, knowing what problems to
address, and being a part of solution seeking of the problems (National Civic League,
1993a). Citizen participation is identified as a basis for the democratic process.
People should be involved to attain social, economic, and political equity in our
governments at the local and national levels. Controversy in this arena arises around
how, when, and where citizens should participate (Langton, 1987). Effective
communities do not wait until crisis occurs before citizens actively participate. Civic
stability is provided through a community that continues to be involved and learn
(National Civic League, 1993a).
The Citizen Participation checklist asks the following questions (National
Civic League, 1993a):
1. Do citizens volunteer to serve on local boards?
2. How visible and active are local civic groups?
3. Do citizens know how local government works?
4. Is participation proactive or reactive?
5. Are citizens actively involved in major projects?
The cooperation of all leaders in the community is necessary to provide for a
successful community. Leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors must
jointly cooperate with each other. Leaders should not manage but should lead
(Bennis & Nanus, 1985). The nature of leadership is found in many, not just a few.
Leaders empower others; they do not control others.
Co-leadership occurs among leaders who exhibit philosophical value systems,
empower others, and contribute to society individually and collectively (Lorentzen,
1986). Leadership must reflect the demographic variances in the community.
Current leaders must actively recruit and develop future leaders (Bennis & Nanus,
The Community Leadership checklist asks the following questions (National
Civic League, 1993a):
1. Is active leadership from all three sectors?
2. Is government willing to share leadership turf?
3. Are there training programs to nurture new leaders?
4. Is leadership results-oriented?
5. Is leadership risk-taking?
6. Do leaders take the long-term view?
7. Do leaders from the three sectors work well together?
Government effectiveness and efficiency are measured by how the
government equitably allocates resources and delivers services based on the needs,
desires and values of the community (Epstein & Fass, 1987). Innovation in
government demonstrates its ability to use new technologies, strategies, and
opportunities. Incentives for performance demonstrate the governments
commitment to effectiveness and efficiency of its employees. An efficient and
effective government is responsive, accountable, equitable, entrepreneurial, and free
of corruption. Government must collaborate with others to problem solve for the
community (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Government Performance checklist asks the following questions
(National Civic League, 1993a):
1. Is government free of corruption?
2. Does government address qualitative concerns about services?
3. Is government professional and entrepreneurial?
4. Is government responsive and accountable?
5. Are services provided equitably?
6. Does government consider and utilize alternative methods of
7. Is government a positive force in addressing community needs?
Volunteerism and Philanthropy
An effective community embraces the ethic of giving and sharing as an
established norm. Communities are aware of the realities of limited resources and
increasing needs. An essential of community life is sharing resources and helping
each other. Community members and organizations are called upon to share their
resources of time, money and services. Leaders in community organizations need to
develop lines of communications to share volunteer and philanthropic resources.
They set the value that whatever you do makes a difference to the community.
Effective communities have established plans for long-range and short-term strategies
for their members to be involved in volunteer and philanthropic activities.
Community service is the responsibility of members of all ages, young and old,
working and retired (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Volunteer and Philanthropy checklist asks the following questions
(National Civic League, 1993a):
1. Does an active community foundation exist?
2. Do local corporations have active giving programs?
3. Does the community have long-term philanthropic goals?
4. Do local programs encourage and honor volunteers and
5. Do government and business work closely with the nonprofit
An essential component in a healthy community is the ability of diverse
groups to co-exist in an open and respectful environment. Communities should
reflect their cultural, religious, political, racial, and ethnic diversities.
Communication among the diverse groups is essential to resolve shared problems
(Campbell & Layton, 1971). Communities should value their community groups.
Intergroup harmony is enhanced by communication skills, respect for culture,
business skills, civic involvement skills, and leadership skills (National Civic League,
The Inter-Group Relations checklist asks the following questions (National
Civic League, 1993a):
1. Is the community dealing with ethnic and racial diversity?
2. Does the community promote communication among diverse
3. Do all groups have the skills to become involved in the
4. Do groups cooperate in resolving broad disputes?
5. Do small, specific conflicts escalate into larger issues?
6. Is the community dominated by narrow special-interest groups?
Civic education is an on-going process which prepares citizens to be just, to
serve above self interest, to be open to all citizens, and to provide democracy for
future generations. Civic education allows us to live in our democratic culture
(O'Neil, 1987). All organizations must be responsible for its citizens civic education
by providing information to citizens and allowing citizens to be involved in their
community. Focused civic education can enhance citizen participation and leadership
(National Civic League, 1993a).
The Civic Education checklist asks the following questions (National Civic
1. Do schools promote or require community involvement?
2. Do schools, churches, and youth agencies offer civic education?
3. Do civic education efforts involve the entire community?
4. Do youth have ample opportunity to engage in community service?
5. Are schools teaching citizenship and civic responsibility?
Community Information Sharing
Healthy communities have systems to gather and share information and
educate their citizens about major issues. Such information sharing enhances the
communitys ability to work towards cooperation and consensus. The information
age provided citizens with power through knowledge (Bennis & Nanus, 1985).
Citizens must be informed, understand the issues in their community, and make
informed decisions; Information can be shared by many sources in the community to
include the media. However, it is also the responsibility of citizens to seek out
information sources and to be informed (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Community Information Sharing checklist asks the following questions
(National Civic League, 1993a):
1. Do citizens have information they need to make good decisions?
2. What role does government play in making information available?
3. Do schools and libraries play a role in informing the public?
4. Are there civic organizations designed for this purpose?
5. Do the media cover community issues fairly?
6. Do the media play an active and supportive role in the community?
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building
Healthy communities need to establish common goals and work
collaboratively towards achieving them. Disagreements will arise and communities
need to have the capacity to hold forums and have processes in place to deal with
these issues. The ability of the community to deal with and manage conflict is critical
(Moore, 1991). The diversity in our culture can tend to make its citizens too focused
on their self interests rather than focusing on community interests. Communities
have begun to focus on mediation and negotiation techniques to solve problems.
Leaders from the community need to model working together to identify needs,
establish goals and develop plans that promote cooperation and consensus building
among their constituents (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building checklist asks the
following questions (National Civic League, 1993a):
1. Are neutral forums and processes where all opinions are heard
2. Do informal dispute resolution processes exist?
3. Do community leaders have regular opportunities to share ideas?
4. Are all major interests represented in collaborative processes?
5. Do all three sectors work together to set common goals?
6. Do leaders reach collective decisions and implement them?
Community Pride and Vision
Healthy communities exhibit a clear focus on where they are going, as well as
where they have been, to develop the vision of their community. Pride in community
accomplishments and direction for the future requires strategic planning activities.
Community vision encompasses identifying the agreements of desired outcomes and
developing a plan for action to achieve these outcomes. Citizens that are involved
become invested in their community. The visions of the community are those shared
individually and collectively. Citizens must be involved in the development of
objectives and strategies for their community vision (International City Management
Association, 1988). Community pride comes from citizens being invested in their
communitys vision (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Community Pride and Vision checklist asks the following questions
(National Civic League, 1993a):
1. Is a shared sense of a desired future for the community present?
2. Has the community completed a broad strategic plan?
3. Does the community have a positive self-image?
4. Does the community preserve and enhance what is special and
5. Does the community proactively monitor critical issues?
6. Does the community deal with problems before they become
Communities need to cooperate with other community agencies in planning
for their shared future and in considering regional needs. Many identified needs of
today are more regional than local, for example, transportation, housing, and
environment. Jurisdictional boundaries need to be considered and collaboration
among agencies need to be used to problem solve together.
Such intercommunity cooperation can be formal or informal. Community
leaders are critical in developing such inter-community cooperation that will enhance
the vision of each community (National Civic League, 1993a).
The Intercommunity Cooperation checklist asks the following questions
(National Civic League, 1993a):
1. How do local governments relate to each other?
2. How do region-wide policy challenges get resolved?
3. Is economic development addressed on a region-wide basis?
4. Do leaders in the region have a common forum to discuss issues?
5. Are any services provided on a regional basis?
6. Are any planning activities carried out on a regional basis?
Summary of the Civic Infrastructure
The ten components of the civic infrastructure have been identified: citizen
participation, community leadership, government performance, volunteerism and
philanthropy, inter-group relations, civic education, community information sharing,
capacity for cooperation and consensus building, community pride and vision, and
Intercommunity cooperation. The ten components of the civic infrastructure have
been described and questions from the Civic Index have been presented. Now, a civic
educational infrastructure will be described and the ten adapted components of the
civic educational infrastructure will be presented.
The Civic Educational Infrastructure of the Community
Based on the ten components developed for the Civic Index by the National
Civic League, a Civic Educational Index (CEI) has been developed and the ten
components of this new index are described in ways similar to those for the Civic
Index (National Civic League, 1993a). The civic educational infrastructure, then,
describes the capacities and competencies identified in the complex interactions of
people and groups. Local school boards can use the capacities and competencies of
the stakeholders to make more effective decisions, resolve problems and support
educational reform. The civic educational infrastructure is a product of the social and
political processes that reflect how people engage in public discourse, decision
making, work together, and relate to each other. The educational infrastructure
reflects how the community sets educational priorities and deals with problems.
References cited from research on school boards are provided for each of the
ten components in the civic educational index. This review of research supports the
adaptation of the ten components of the civic infrastructure to ten similar components
for a civic educational infrastructure.
Components of the Civic Educational Infrastructure
of the Community
The school board, as an elected governmental entity, can develop a more
effective decision-making process by collaborating with the educational infrastructure
of the community. The civic educational infrastructure of the community is defined
as the stakeholders in the educational arena, including school board members,
administrators, licensed and support staff, parents, and other community members.
This collective group provides for alliances and partnerships that can impact
productive educational change. This change is brought about by empowering the
community to be effective educational decision-makers and problem solvers. It is the
active involvement of this group that provides capacity for the school board to
implement educational change in a generally complex, dynamic, non-linear, and
Research on school boards has stated that it is important for many
stakeholders to be involved in the educational process (Danzberger, 1994; Kirst,
1994; Usdan, 1994). The new civic educational infrastructure focuses on stakeholder
participation. Active participation empowers individuals and gives them a sense of
ownership in their educational infrastructure. To build a strong educational
infrastructure the stakeholders from all sectors and comers of the community have to
come together to build their problem solving capacity.
The ten components of the civic educational infrastructure will be presented
and described. References from a review of the literature of school boards will be
used to support statements selected in each component.
District participation is the active involvement by stakeholders in the school
district at the district and school levels. District participation is composed of the
following elements: an involved community to work towards solutions, a community
that continually learns, an interactive community, and a community that uses inquiry
(National Civic League, 1993a).
Research on school boards support descriptors of community participation.
District participation is necessary to develop and maintain a strong educational
community (Hentschke, 1980). Community involvement contributes to improvement
in student achievement (Hatch, 1998). Such participation can be identified in the
political, educational, and economic areas of schooling (Hamlin, 1974). Examples of
district participation include citizens running and being elected to the local school
board and serving on district committees such as accountability, evaluation, and
budget (Muniz, 1969). Serving on committees at the local level such as the PTA and
local accreditation/ accountability meeting is important also. Attending school board
meetings and special hearings and having active involvement in the operation of the
local school district are other ways that the community can be involved (Bradley,
Citizens should be informed and involved in the planning to establish the
mission, values and goals of the district (Brodinsky, 1972). They should further be
aware of policies set by the school board and the implementation of these policies by
staff (Doherty, 1971). The public is playing a prominent role in the shaping of
education policies (Tacheny, 1997). Parents need to be involved in their childrens
education. Parent participation is critical for student success (Gullatt, 1997). The
multiple ways of getting stakeholders engaged in the school system represents a
partnership that can address community educational issues (Sokoloff, 2001). The
focus on families directions provide connections by school district to proactively have
parents becoming involved in their childrens learning (Brant & Blom, 2001).
1. Do you serve on school board committees?
2. Do you participate in school district activities?
3. Are you involved in maj or school districts proj ects?
4. Is your participation in the school district proactive?
5. Do you vote in school board and school district elections?
Leadership involves the capacity of the school district to develop leaders from
the business, government and non-profit sectors who can cooperate and focus on the
long-term success of the entire community. Leadership is composed of the following
elements: representative of the community, be results-oriented, be willing to be risk
takers, and use self critique to learn and progress. Leaders need to obtain responses
from other leaders, develop support from other leaders and be able to motivate their
followers (National Civic League, 1993a).
References cited from research on school boards support these descriptors of
leadership. The local school board is the leadership body for the district (Freud,
1984). The board needs to recognize that leadership comes not just from them but
from a variety of sources in the community (Black, 1998). The cooperation of all
leaders in the educational community is necessary to provide for success (Garfield,
Leaders in the educational community can come from the public, private, and
non-profit sectors. Leaders can be from any professional or technical area. They can
come from broader educational arenas such higher education or other post-high
school educational agencies. Leaders can also be identified within the local districts
educational community such as administrators, teacher, and specialists
(Giandomenico, 1989; Young, 1979). With the crisis in educational leadership that is
facing our country, many school districts are training their master teachers for
principalships (Murphy, 2001). Leaders can be the parents and students of the district
The local school district is a critical component of the community. The
relationship and involvement that the school district has in the larger community is
significant (Danzberger & Usdan, 1994). The local school district should reflect the
community standards for education (Steinberg, 1975). The leadership in the school
district can be similar to the political leadership in the community (Hentges, 1986).
The role of educational leadership has been identified as one primarily of policy
setting and not micromanagement of school systems (Black, 1998).
1. Does the school board provide leadership to the school district?
2. Do you provide leadership in the school district?
3. Does the board encourage and nurture new leaders?
4. Does the school board work well with other leaders in the school
5. Do leaders from business, non-profit, and the school district work
School Board Performance
School board performance is the capacity of the local school board to be
responsive to the needs and desires of the community and provide educational
services that are valuable to the community. School board performance is composed
of the following elements: effectiveness, efficiency, responsiveness to community
values and priorities, allocation of resources and the equitable delivery of services
(National Civic League, 1993a). School board members need to behave in a manner
that shows respect of other board members and other stakeholders to be effective in
carrying out their responsibilities (Hardy, 2001).
School board performance descriptors are supported from references cited
from research on school boards. The government of the local school district is the
responsibility of the elected board of education. School boards are the epitome of
representative governance in local communities (Fisher & Shannon, 1992). The
school board sets educational policies that reflect community priorities assessment of
student performance based on the adoption of board standards (Barlow, 1970). The
local school board has, as some of their specific duties, setting educational policy,
evaluating the superintendent and establishing and overseeing the school district
budget (Fuhrman, 1993). The local school board is accountable to the community to
be effective and efficient in the allocation of resources and the delivery of services
based on the desires and values of the community (Barlow, 1970; Campbell &
Greene, 1994; Simpkins, 1994).
The school board should give the responsibility of managing the school
district to the superintendent (Brodinsky, 1973). This includes the implementation of
curriculum and instruction (Funk & Funk, 1990). It also includes the hiring,
supervision and evaluation of staff to implement board policies (Mclntire, 1982). The
relationship of the local school board and the superintendent is critical to maintain an
effective and efficient school district (Eadie, 1998). The board must rely on the
recommendations of the superintendent to provide for the implementation of the
policies that they have established (Abrans, 2000). School boards need to be
responsive and creative in the setting of the school district budget based on
constraints of school finance (Boyd, 1992).
The community evaluates the effectiveness and efficiency of the school board
at the time of school board elections and either re-elects incumbents or elects new
school board members (Adkinson, 1982). The democratic control of school district
policy occurs through episodic voter dissatisfaction leading to changes in the board
and superintendent (Criswell & Mitchell, 1980). The school board must problem
solve with the community to solve educational issues (Campbell & Layton, 1971).
1. Is the school board a positive force in addressing educational
2. Does the school board address concerns about education?
3. Does the school board conduct business in a professional manner?
4. Is the school board responsive to its constituency?
5. Is the school board accountable to its constituency?
Volunteerism and Philanthropy
Volunteerism and philanthropy are described as the contributions to the school
district by stakeholders of time, money, and services from individuals and groups.
Volunteerism and philanthropy are comprised of the following elements: long and
short term strategic volunteer efforts, specific targets for volunteer hours and
contributions, identification of specific volunteer projects, and events to recognize
volunteers (National Civic League, 1993a).
Research on school boards provides descriptions of volunteer and
philanthropy efforts. An effective school district is aware of the many contributions
that volunteers and philanthropic activities can provide to reach the mission of the
school district (Halford, 1998; Kenner, 1992). The utilization of the resources of non-
district staff can be significant to enhance student opportunities for learning (Jesse,
1995). Such resources can be identified as time, money and knowledge. School
district budgets have ever increasing demands based on employee needs, increasing
student population and needs and operational costs. School board members and
superintendents should focus on the many resources in the community to provide for
increasing student performance.
School board members model the value of volunteerism by giving
approximately 40 hours per week to the leadership of the school district with no pay,
no benefits and rarely any support systems such as offices, secretaries, etc. (Brown,
1985). Several school boards have required community service as a graduation
requirement to instill in their students the necessity to develop the values of
volunteerism as a student based outcome. Effective school districts have established
long and short range opportunities for volunteerism and philanthropic activities and
recognition. Some school boards have allocated financial resources and /or
designated specific administrative responsibilities to oversee the recruitment,
involvement and recognition of volunteers.
1. Does the school district have an active volunteer program?
2. Does the district honor volunteers?
3. Do local businesses contribute resources to the school district?
4. Do you volunteer in the school district?
5. Does the school district use community resources to meet its
Inter-Group relations demonstrate the appreciation and communication of the
diverse groups that make up the educational community. Inter-Group relations is
composed of the following elements: harmonious existence of diverse groups,
cooperation of the diverse groups in solution seeking, valuing the diversity in the
community, the desire to resolve conflict, communication between and among the
diverse groups, respect for the cultural history of each group and the respect for
diversity (National Civic League, 1993a).
Descriptors of inter-group relations are provided from research on school
boards. School districts reflect the cultural, political, ethnic, racial and religious
diversities of their communities. This diversity may be found in the student
population as well as in the employee and parental groups. School boards need to
represent the changing needs of the populations they serve (First, 1992). Effective
school districts embrace this diversity as a learning opportunity for students and
adults (Giroux, 1992). Establishing a culture that values such diversity can be
promoted on both informal and formal levels. This can be accomplished by having
specific focus in the educational curriculum and attitudes of all involved. This is
evident from educational policies regarding harassment to the selection of textbooks
and teacher evaluation (Simpkins, 1994). Specific conflict resolution around issues
may need to be addressed (Lutz, 1980).
1. Does the school board membership reflect the communitys
2. Does the school board promote communication among diverse
3. Do diverse groups become involved in the educational
4. Is the district free from domination by narrow special interest
5. Does the school board use processes to ensure that small, specific
conflicts do not escalate into larger issues?
Community Civic Education
Community civic education is composed of the following elements: a sense of
justice, service beyond self, openness to all citizens, knowledge of the community,
and the concern for future generations (National Civic League, 1993a). Community
civic education is described by reviewing research on school boards.
School board members can be models to the community as civic educators.
They can teach students about local government through their processes and actions
(Bailey, 1971; Keating, 1995). The school board can be instrumental in perpetuating
a more civil society and improve the quality of community life (Vail, 2002). A
healthy civic quality can be developed by the board focusing on trust, community
membership, security, and family and political components (Blair, 1998).
Educating the community is a process that is embedded in curriculum and
instruction from preschool through high school in the public schools. Teachers
facilitate the learning of such information using both formal (civic classes) and
informal (classroom organization and instruction) structures. Children learn their
community responsibilities as citizens of the school environment in their primary
grades. Such responsibility continues to be developed in student council and other
leadership and followership opportunities. Some districts evaluate student
performance based on their civic responsibility at their developmental levels
(DeFlumere, 1970). Student outcomes, established by the local school board, often
identify civic education as a life long learning skill. Adults in the school community
continue to develop their civic education through their participation in local and
district organizations (Kahne, 1994).
1. Do students have ample opportunity to engage in community
2. Are the schools teaching citizenship and civic responsibility?
3. Do the schools promote community involvement?
4. Does the school board provide the community with information
about the school district?
5. Are school board members respectful of one another?
Information sharing is the collecting and sharing of information and
educating the community on educational issues. Information sharing is comprised of
the following elements: strategies to gather and share information, information
sharing to understand the issues, and the sharing of different viewpoints and opinions
(National Civic League, 1993a).
Research on school boards supports these descriptors of information sharing.
Communication between the school district and the community is an essential role for
the local school board and the superintendent (Behnke, 1990). The school board is a
strong link between the schools and the community (Riles, 1974). Communication
from the local school board to the community is important to keep them informed
about board policies. Such communication also invites the community to be involved
in the development of such policies (Wiles, 1974). School boards need to obtain
input from the community before policies are decided (Kearns, 1982). School boards
should be very aware of the need to be public relations advocates for their
constituency (Milo, 1997). Sustained, positive and trusting relationships between the
school board and the media are critical to provide information ranging from
educational to safety issues (Cook, 2001).
School districts and local schools utilize a variety of methods to keep citizens
informed of their mission, values and goals. The strategy for communication
continues to be a challenge since only about 25% of the adult population currently
have children in school. Schools utilize school newsletters, district community
reports, media coverage of televised board meeting or utilize other methods of
telecommunications (Sheekey, 1997). Communication efforts by boards include
informing residents about school district activities and events but also provides
forums for community input into school district function. This two-way
communication provides venues for the community to be informed and be active in
developing district goals (Bryant & Blom, 2001).
Some districts prioritize their communication strategies with all stakeholders
in a manner similar to the challenges of running a political campaign (Schenirer,
2000). It is important for the educational experts to communicate in non-
educationalise to inform all stakeholders of educational issues. To be informed
allows stakeholders to meaningfully participate in the development of policies. In our
Age of Information stage, the key to successful self-governance is the ability to share
information between the public and experts (Yankelovich, 1991),
Most schools make their facilitates available to their communities which
further increases awareness of schooling. Many adult education classes are taught
using school facilities and equipment. The role of the school board and the media is
essential in keeping the community informed of student performance, district mission
and goals and educational issue (Funk, 1991).
1. Can you share information with school board members?
2. Does the school board provide information about educational
3. Does the media cover school board issues fairly?
4. Does the media play an active role in education?
5. Do you feel encouraged to speak up at school board meetings?
Capacity for Cooperation and Consensus Building
The Civic Educational Index describes the capacity for cooperation and
consensus building as the setting of common goals and collectively working together
to solve community issues. The capacity for cooperation and consensus building is
composed of the following elements: processes available for all opinions to be heard,
processes available to develop consensus on issues, the ability to manage conflict in
the community, opportunities for mediation and negotiation of issues, and the ability
and desire to collectively adapt for the best interests of the community rather than the
individual or group (National Civic League, 1993a).
A review of research provides information about the capacity for cooperation
and consensus building of school boards. School districts have the responsibility of
providing for all students, collectively and individually. Many parents want the
school district to provide the best possible education for their children. However,
districts cannot realistically provided the best possible education for every child while
trying to meet individual and collective needs with limited resources. The local
school board needs to establish educational policies that deal with the balance of
providing for everyone collectively and individually (Lewis, 1975). The boards
ability to prioritize is constrained by educational decisions made by local, state and
national lawmakers (Hazard, 1975).
The establishment of educational policy will direct the focus on curriculum
and instruction as well as budgetary priorities. The strategies that the school board
uses to develop their educational policies will reflect their capacity to utilize
cooperation and consensus building. The utilization of consensus building,
mediation, negotiation and other strategies allows processes for facilitating
cooperation between citizens and the school board while also allowing for process to
deal with conflict resolution (Page, 1970).
School board members should have established policies and procedures with
dealing with complaints (Broadinsky, 1972). Such procedures should direct the
complainant to the administrative level rather than the school board level (Greene,
1990). Boards should foster the culture of encouraging productive dissent without
chaos (Marlowe, 1997). Boards must also be willing to make unpopular decisions
and be aware that some level of confrontation and conflict will be present in their
policy making role (Page, 1970). School board candidates that run on single issue
platforms or represent only specific interest groups do not exhibit the capacity to
represent the needs of all children and the community (Lindblom & Woodhouse,
1. Does the school board provide neutral forums where all opinions can
2. Does the school board use consensus-based decision-making
3. Are all groups represented in collaborative decision-making
4. Do a variety of groups work with the school board to set common
5. Does the school board work collaboratively with others to solve
Vision and Pride
Vision and pride is described as being proud of past and present
accomplishments, active involvement in current projects and strategic planning, long
range planning with agreed outcomes, investment in all stakeholders future in the
educational community, sharing in the problem-solving of the school district, and
having a positive community self esteem (National Civic League, 1993a).
References from the review of research on school boards provide descriptors
of vision and pride. Effective schools have a vision of where they want to be and
how they want to get there. Local school boards are charged with the responsibility
of setting school district policies based on the mission, values and goals developed by
the community (Haynes & Chalker, 1997). Student performance is the main
accountability factor for the school district (Dickinson, 1970). Processes have been
developed to involve citizens, parents, staff and students in the development of
strategic planning (Pauly, 1987).
School districts have significant economic consequences for communities as
market values are based on the communitys perspective of the quality of the school
system. School districts that are able to document good student performance exhibit
community vision and pride. School district pride can be obtained in a variety of
ways such as academic proficiency, athletic success, appropriate facilities, giving of
awards, and visible mission statements. School districts need to clearly articulate
their vision and celebrate their successes in their pride. A healthy school district has
much in common with a healthy community and shares this pride (Schoeffield, 1998).
1. Does the school district have a broad strategic plan?
2. Does the community have a positive image regarding education?
3. Does the school board proactively monitor critical issues?
4. Does the school board have a long-term plan that is inclusive of
5. Does the school board have a shared vision that guides its policies
Intercommunity cooperation is the ability of different communities in the
school district to share in meeting their current needs and in planning for future
needs. Inter-community cooperation is composed of the following elements:
collaboration at the local town levels, regional levels, state levels, national levels and
international levels; ability to cross jurisdictional boundaries, development of
informal and formal agreements, and the willingness to identify issues to common
concerns and common solutions (National Civic League, 1993a). Creative
collaborations among schools, government, business and other agencies can result in
successful community resources to adults and children (Bryant & Blom, 2001).
Investing in family and community capital by multiple agencies can have the effect of
reducing some expenditures made by schools and allow districts to allocate resources
for other priorities. Examples could include medical treatment, early childhood
programs, and nutrition education (Rothstein, 2001).
Intercommunity cooperation can be defined by reviewing the literature about
school boards. New realities of local entities suggest that, in our society and current
world view, governments, politics, economics and businesses can work together for
the increased efficiency of all (Drucker, 1989). Board members have decision-