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Site-Based School Administration, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The origins of site-based administration can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century. Frederick Taylor, the Father of Scientific Management, briefly identified charismatic leadership, or the employer being a friend to his workers (Levine, Muenchen, & Brooks, 2010). Thus, the friend or mentor role exhibited by the employer could produce more work from his employees.

Following the end of the World War II, Deming (1950) created 14 points designed to help the Japanese get their devastated businesses back to full production. The Japanese labeled Deming’s ideas as Kaizen, the Japanese word for improvement. Deming’s ideas (1986) became known in the United States as Total Quality Management. Deming’s idea was to reduce variation, thus reducing waste, which was thought of as being non-productive. Kosner (2006) interpreted Deming’s 14 points as ideas which could be used in the schools and which helped to bring site-based management into the schoolhouse.

According to Kosner (2006), Deming’s 14 points, when interpreted for use of site-based management in a school setting are:

  1. Plan for the long-term instead of short-term solutions. Seek the help of faculty members in creating long-term plans for subsequent school years.
  2. The principal needs to adopt a philosophy of depending upon the decision-making processes of his or her teachers, parents, and community activists. All of these individuals should be thought of as stakeholders in the decision-making processes.
  3. Prior to the creation of NCLB, there were extreme variations in the quality of education between schools in a single district. For schools to be effective and for the student achievement they provide to be measureable, schools need to provide the same education.
  4. Remove multiple suppliers of educational products to schools. This concept also impacts the previous point about reducing variations. When single suppliers of textbooks are used, what is being taught becomes standardized across the entire school district. This is important on two fronts: First, it helps to close the achievement gap between non-minority and minority students by providing to both groups the same set of instructional supplies. Second, in school districts where there is a large transient rate among students, these students, transferring to a different school, will be using the same textbooks and will have less difficulty adjusting to their new environment.
  5. As teaching materials become too blemished or outdated, replacing them with the same materials will help to ensure that education remains standardized across all schools in any specific school district.
  6. Improve professional development and training for all employees. Every employee should be doing the same thing in as consistent a manner as possible.
  7. Principals need to lead, not just supervise. A leader has a vision about expectations for his or her learning center. A leader has an understanding about the efforts necessary to ensure that their learning center will attain those goals. A leader will enable the stakeholders in his or her organization to help him or her achieve those goals. A supervisor only cares about cosmetics: Are employees on-time getting to work? Are students behaving? Is lunch being served on-time?
  8. Management by instilling fear in employees is counterproductive. It is a form of supervision, not leadership in a hierarchy-flattened organization where employees are valued as stakeholders.
  9. Every school has multiple departments. There are instruction, secretarial, maintenance, and food service. In some schools, administration may also be counted as a specific department. For a school to be successful, each department has to work harmoniously with all of the other departments. The ultimate goal of every department in a school is the same: to serve children.
  10. Everybody needs to work together to help every department toward student achievement. Even a school custodian who gets to work on time, and does his or her job to promote cleanliness, can become a role model for children.
  11. Always help the workforce to improve product delivery. In this case, product delivery can be defined as student achievement. Helping the workforce may mean offering professional development or helping individuals toward recognizing team effort.
  12. Always strive to improve worker satisfaction across all departments. When members of all departments feel as though they are stakeholders in their organization, they will work harder toward helping the school optimize student achievement.
  13. Constantly and consistently strive for employee improvement. Offer professional development activities, offer tuition reimbursement or salary adjustment for employee improvement.
  14. Employees need to strive to better themselves and managers need to do everything in their power to help workers be the best they can be.

Burns (1978) identified the characteristics of transformational leaders. They inspire confidence and give their workers a sense of purpose. Transformational leaders can establish for themselves and others a clear vision for their organization. They are comfortable communicating this vision to a group, and through their own behavior demonstrate their personal commitment for attaining those goals. Transformational leaders prefer their followers to be creative, yet remain as autonomous as possible. Members of transformational organizations are encouraged to participate in the decision –making process; the leader will not be critical of any decisions that are forthcoming. If the majority of followers agree on a specific solution to a problem being faced, the transformational leader will not stand in the way of the implementation process.

Sergiovanni (1996) was the first theorist to bring transformational leadership into a school environment. His ideas constituted a sort of transformational subset and were identified as value added leadership. He believed that the school setting was not a manufacturing environment and needed its own identifiers. Sergiovanni believed that everybody in the school building was a stakeholder in the educational process. Thus, instructional leaders are not limited to the position of principal. All of the stakeholders in the education process including teachers, parents, non-professionals, and community activists should be thought of as instructional leaders. The tasks of the principal become supervisory, like ensuring the opening of school on-time, everybody having the proper tools, and everybody receiving a salary according to their efforts. All real education functions: teaching, planning, school vision, mission statements, and student safety are combined efforts of every stakeholder, and as stakeholders, these individuals become instructional leaders. Within this concept, the best providers of professional development are the teachers themselves—individuals whose current professional experience with instructional successes (or failures) and who can accurately present that material to their peers. Sergiovanni (1996) felt that professional development left to the principals, some of who had been out of the classroom for a number of years, would and could not be as knowledgeable in their presentations as those individuals with more immediate experience.

Teachers fall into two categories: those who are outstanding and those that are often labeled by their school districts as being among the worst (Jacob, 2010). Good teachers live their jobs. They like working with children and they see themselves as being in honorable professions. Although they prefer their students to excel, they are happy when even mediocre students show improvement. According to Jacob, there are other teachers that are often labeled as being among the worst. They have a difficult time getting along with students, often producing only mediocre grades even among the best students. These teachers need to seek jobs away from the teaching profession. According to Jacob, these teachers, instead of seeking a different occupation, return to school to become principals. Often, the worst teachers become the worst principals.

Kemper and Teddlie (2000) identified difficulties with implementing site-based administration in high schools in Texas. According to them, many principals, perhaps as direct result of their supervisory training, felt that they maintained superiority over the knowledge possessed by their subordinates. They felt that site-based management undermined their authority. Some of these principals were willing to share their leadership, but still maintained the authority over what was accepted and what was not. They were unwilling to share the credit for good decisions made by their staff, instead, taking the full credit for the efforts of others.

There exists a reality in many manufacturing companies that the leader strives to maintain a vision for his or her organization while laborers at various hierarchal levels maintain the driving forces for the company as a whole to attain those visions (Gluckman & Roome, 1990). It is widely accepted that members of any single organization must work together to strive toward reaching the company’s vision (Bolden, Gosling, Hawkins, & Taylor, 2011). To these ends, the president of such an organization has only a basic understanding of company’s production machines while the machine operators have only a basic understanding of what is done by the company’s leader. For example: The president of General Motors probably can’t operate the machinery necessary to manufacture automobiles.

Within a public school, the instructional leader or principal, by mere virtue of beginning in the classroom as is required in most states, can teach specific classes. However, this same principal probably cannot fire the furnace or change the ducts to send more or less heat into a classroom. Likewise, while the principal may possess the knowledge to prepare a single meal, he or she probably does not have the knowledge necessary to feed 600 or more students.

Shared leadership does not come without some difficulties. Just like a principal probably can’t repair a school’s heating system, classroom teachers often don’t possess the knowledge to understand a school’s budget. In order to benefit from shared decision making, the site-based administrator may have to explain to his or her faculty where the money comes from? How is it determined by a central administration which school gets the most funds? Which funds are local and which are federal? What roles do unions play in how schools are funded? How come salaries are not usually determined by local school funds? Questions like these require the site-based administrator to work with site-based faculty members before they can assume the role as stakeholders in their school’s decision-making.

Perhaps more so in secondary schools than in elementary schools, there are other decisions that need to be made at the principal’s level. Do the courses being offered fit the needs of the student population? Will these courses prepare students for post-secondary education or, for those students going directly to work, are the courses being offered preparing them for jobs in the business community existing in their own neighborhoods?

In addition, the school serves as a pillar in the community. Granted, it is the building parents send their children to in order to receive an education. But in communities lacking playgrounds, the school building may also serve as a meeting place, both for adults and children. In some cases, the building may also serve as a church or meeting hall for some religious groups. The principal needs to aware of which group will be hosted, and at what time. The principal generally needs to provide building security and usually maintenance personnel. Lights need to be working, and in wintry conditions, furnaces need to be fired. The instructional leader may share in site-based administration, but there are often neighborhood issues which require singular decision making, and the person charged with these concerns is often the appointed or elected school leader.

Although elements of site-based management can be found throughout the 20th century, the school building is unique in this process. In many industries, site-based management is shared by laborers and managers alike. Often however, the educational skills are different between manufacturing concerns and the schools. In many manufacturing concerns, laborers have often completed high school while their leaders are college graduates. In the schools, teachers, like their bosses, are college educated; in some cases teachers may be even more educated than the supervisors giving the orders.

Site-based management first showed up in the theories promulgated by Deming (1986). He spoke of flattened hierarchies where both leaders and laborers worked side-by side for the good of their organization. The concept made its way into the schools, first showing up in the theories of Sergiovanni (1996). Site-based leadership is not without its difficulties. In some instructional needs, teachers can probably talk and work proficiently alongside of their instructional leaders. But in other areas, for instance, budgets, for decisions to be made at levels other than those of the instructional leader, instruction must first take place. Often, teachers are unaware of the characteristics of creating a viable budget without first being trained by the same person with whom they will eventually being sharing the leadership process. In other instances, those which involve the use of the school by outside interests, the decision making process will probably remain solidly with the instructional leader.

 

References

Deming, WE. (1950). Lecture to Japanese management. Translated by Truhide Haga. Online materials accessed 2011, July 10.

Bolden, R. Gosling, J., Hawkins, B., & Taylor, S. Exploring leadership: Individual, organizational, and societal perspectives. New York: NY: Oxford Press.

Burns, JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Deming, WE. (1986). Out of crisis. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Gluckman, P., & Roome, D. (1990). Everyday heroes: From Taylor to Deming: The journey to higher productivity. New York: NY: SPC Press.

Jacob, B. (2010, February). Do principals fire the worst teachers? Center for local, state, and urban policy. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Kemper, E., & Teddlie, C. (2000). Mandate site-based management in Texas: Exploring implementation in urban high schools. Teaching and Change 7(2): 172-200.

Kosner, Ed. D., J. (2006). Leadership perspectives that facilitate school improvement: An ethnographic study of a school principal’s leadership role. Chicago, IL: Roosevelt University(UMI Publication Number 3223230).

Levine, K., Muenchen, R., & Brooks, A. (2010, December). Measuring transformational and charismatic leadership: Why isn’t charisma measured? Communication Monographs 77(4): 576-591.

Sergiovanni, T. (1996). Moral leadership: Getting to the heart of school improvement. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

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