Tag Archives: educational governance

Educational Transformation? It’s the Governance, Stupid!

In my most recent piece “Schools: Trying to Balance Coercion, Inspiration and Facilitation”, I put forward that many American public schools are on increasingly shaky ground because they are tasked with at least six very challenging and at times conflicting goals, and are being asked to achieve all of those goals with shrinking budgets. In this increasingly difficult juggling act of doing more with less, the focus is generally on curriculum, teachers, and even at times educational methodology. But I believe the mostly unexamined element in transforming our schools (as well as other institutions in our society) is the governance model – who makes the decisions and how.

Like the cautionary reminder made famous from Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns, whenever I think about our society’s developmental path forward and I forget to focus on who the decision-makers are and how the decisions are made, I need to be shaken out of my stupor and reminded that, “It’s the governance, stupid!”

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Parents and Students as Citizens in their own Schools

Today’s Los Angeles Times piece, “Parents hope to force sweeping changes at Compton school”, highlights a dysfunctional educational venue, McKinley Elementary School in Compton, and a controversial effort by parents to turn it around. Controversial because, without the knowledge of school staff or the school board, parents quietly took the radical action of circulating a petition, based on a new California law, to bring a charter company in to take over running the school. A school dysfunctional perhaps because of a lack of a good governance model that could have kept parents, teachers and even students in touch with each other as school stakeholders to share their concerns.

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It’s the Governance, Stupid!

Circle of Youth & AdultsIn the Education Week March 19 article, “It’s the Classroom, Stupid: School Reform Where It Counts the Most”, author Kalman R. Hettleman is at least attempting to address the issue of governance that I highlighted in my piece yesterday on “Defining Governance”. Hettleman says…

The mismanagement of classroom instruction is the ugly secret and fatal flaw of school reform. Everyone knows that school systems are horrendously mismanaged. The media keep us fully informed and outraged at foul-ups like overspent budgets, computer glitches, bungled paperwork, defective maintenance, and unresponsive bureaucrats. But these failings, as serious as they are, tell only a small part of the story.

Though he does not use the “G-word”, I believe what he is addressing in his article speaks directly to school governance, specifically who is empowered to make school management decisions and what is the process for making those decisions. Continue reading →

Defining Governance

Circle of Youth & AdultsAs we look to improve our American institutions, including our schools and even our families, I believe we need to get more comfortable with the word “governance” and analyzing those institutions in terms of their governance models. I submit that the governance model often gets short shrift as we look at our institutions and how they can be reformed or transformed to better address life in the 21st Century.

According to Wikipedia…

Governance is the activity of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance. It consists either of a separate process or of a specific part of management or leadership processes… [It] is the kinetic exercise of management power and policy.

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