You are here

Combining Forces in the Development of Programs and Services: Bringing Education, Government, and Nonprofit Agencies Together

15 January, 2016 - 09:21
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

Note: This MODULE has been peer-reviewed, accepted, and sanctioned by the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA) as a scholarly contribution to the knowledge base in educational administration.

    Since A Nation At Risk in the early 1980s, the general public along with governmental, educational, and the business community have called for changes and improvement in educational systems at all levels. These calls for change have been directed toward improvement in programs ranging from early childhood education to university programs. In recent years, public and private agencies have been developing non-traditional public education formats such as charter schools, school/business internships and partnerships, contract schools, K-14 partnerships, school-to-work programs, or attempting to expand on already existing private educational opportunities through vouchers and tax exemptions. Some of these calls for change and restructuring have been directed at university programs in both the areas of teacher preparation and the training of school administrators (Milstein and Associates, 1993; Murphy & Hallinger, 1995; Newman & Wehlage, 1995) and have been incorporated into the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind (U.S. Government, 2001).

    Administrative theory as traditionally taught in educational administration preparation programs is rooted in organizational management and leadership theory and in the social sciences. Theoretical frame-works that can be found in texts utilized in educational administration preparation programs include: systems theory, human resource management, organizational change and development, total quality management, power and politics, decision-making, general management and leadership skills, visioning, teaming, and organizational culture, to name only a few. These theoretical constructs form a foundation for understanding organizational administration in general and educational administration in particular. Examples of this can be found in books and articles by authors such as Bolman & Deal (2004),Cunningham & Cordeiro (2000), Hersey & Blanchard (1984), Hoy & Miskel (1996), Kimbrough & Nunnery (1988), Lunenburg & Ornstein (2000), Morgan (1986), Sergiovanni (1995), Seyfarth (1999), Silver, (1983), and Yukl (2002). These cited authors only touch the tip of the iceberg in published works on educational administration. Additionally, professors in educational leadership and administration programs regularly incorporate the works of such well known organizational and social science theorists as Argyris, Barnard, Bass, Bennis, Demming, Drucker, Etzioni, Fayol, Fiedler, Galbraith, House, Kanter, Katz & Kahn, Kotter, Kouzes & Posner, Likert, Maslow, McGregor, Mintzberg, Peters, Pfeffer, Schein, Senge, Stogdill, Taylor, Vaill, Vroom, and Webber among others.

    Following A Nation at Risk, some academicians have challenged the rationale of applying general organizational leadership and social science theories to the preparation and development of school leaders. Subsequently, there has been an emphasis on preparing school administrators to be instructional leaders, with researchers and writers emphasizing the uniqueness and importance of curriculum and instructional knowledge for school administrators (Sergiovanni, Burlingame, Coombs, and Thurston, 1999; Starratt, 1996). Yet, as Leithwood (1992) notes:

    "Instructional leadership" is an idea that has served many schools well throughout the 1980s and 1990s. But in light of current restructuring initiatives designed to take schools into the 21st century, "instructional leadership" no longer appears to capture the heart of what school administration will have to become. (p. 8)

    Public education is one portion of a complex system of society that extends far beyond the walls of the schoolhouse. The administration of educational institutions is impacted and influenced by businesses, com-munities, governmental agencies, laws, special interest and not-for-profit groups, and the general citizenry. The demand of these groups to improve the quality of public education and prepare students for the world of work beyond school is becoming more intense each year. The development of state and national standards, public charter schools, and schools-of-choice across the nation has placed the school administrator in a position of competition and accountability heretofore unknown. Demands by businesses, parents, community groups, legislation, and federal and state governments have forced the school administrator to listen to and collaborate more closely with social service providers and governmental agencies. These economic, social, and political pressures and changes require "leadership that is so completely revolutionary that it challenges all our old paradigms" (McFarland, Senn & Childress, 1994, p. 29). The importance of this statement is supported by Beyer & Ruhl-Smith (2000) when they state, "This opinion is shared by a cross-section of leaders representing business, education, government, entertainment, and other for-profit and not-for-profit sectors"(p. 35).

    Dissatisfaction with present educational leadership has resulted in school districts hiring business and military leaders to fill school administration positions. These actions have been supported by the premise that successful leadership skills in the military and the business sector are easily transferable to the leadership of schools. Rodriguez (2000) states, "consensus among educators supports the development of programs that train future administrators to work in collaborative and interdisciplinary settings (p. 65). An example of such a collaborative effort is an international educational program entitled, "Collaborative Educational Programs for the Americas" (CEPA). The CEPA program is one example of an interdisciplinary group of professionals in law enforcement, education, and the military working together. CEPA develops educational programs that focus on "the establishment of collaborative partnerships to deal with the challenges of educational and social reform" (Rodriguez, 2000, p. 66). More recently, the City of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced an initiative in which the Chicago Public Schools are exploring a charter school format that will combine the expertise and educational personnel of private schools with that of the public schools to offer an alternative educational opportunity for public school students. The reform plan will lean heavily on the private sector for ideas, funding, and management (Dell'Angela & Washburn, 2004; Grossman, K. N., 2004)).

    By 2010 the mayor intends to re-create more than 10 percent of the city's schools one-third as charter schools, one third as independently operated contract schools and the remainder as small schools run by the district (Dell'Angela & Washburn, 2004).

    Movements and programs such as those mentioned above, begin to blur the lines that have traditionally separated schools, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies. The lack of leadership preparation to meet the challenges of such collaborative educational endeavors should be a major concern of educational reform efforts.