Explores how to engage citizens in the process of educational improvement.
Drawing on three years of field research and extensive theoretical and empirical literature, Democratic Dilemmas chronicles the day-to-day efforts of educators and laypersons working together to advance student learning in two California school districts. Julie A. Marsh reveals how power, values, organizational climates, and trust played key roles in these two districts achieving vastly different results. In one district, parents, citizens, teachers, and administrators effectively developed and implemented districtwide improvement strategies; in the other, community and district leaders unsuccessfully attempted to improve systemwide accountability through dialogue. The book highlights the inherent tensions of deliberative democracy, competing notions of representation, limitations of current conceptions of educational accountability, and the foundational importance of trust to democracy and education reform. It further provides a framework for improving community-educator collaboration and lessons for policy and practice.
Julie A. Marsh is Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. She is the coauthor (with Kerri A. Kerr, Gina S. Ikemoto, Hilary Darilek, Marika Suttorp, Ron W. Zimmer, and Heather Barney) of The Role of Districts in Fostering Instructional Improvement: Lessons from Three Urban Districts Partnered with the Institute for Learning and the coeditor (with Amy M. Hightower, Michael S. Knapp, and Milbrey W. McLaughlin) of School Districts and Instructional Renewal.
"The author reminds us that people who work collaboratively to make change must understand that it is a negotiated process. There are costs involved for each stakeholder. Successful collaboration implies that participants become aware of these costs and develop ways to reframe them as assets. " — Educational Administration Quarterly
"The comparative case studies allow the author to probe the emergent themes and patterns and to deal with alternative interpretations with a degree of sophistication not often found in the literature on efforts to engage elements of the school community in school district policymaking. " — Betty Malen, coeditor of Balancing Local Control and State Responsibility for K–12 Education
"Findings from this book will inform practice in the field of school governance and leadership. " — Kenneth Wong, author of City Choices: Education and Housing