Forces of change commentary

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Forces of change commentary

  1. 1. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 1 Running Head: Forces of Change Reflection Reflection Paper Forces of Change Dr. Virginia Doolittle Dennis McGeehan Fall 2009
  2. 2. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 2 Our Forces of Change class introduced me to various experts and practitioners concerned with the state of our educational system. Although my concerns are primarily administrative, I need to know environmental trends to better understand the needs of our students. From what I have learned in our readings, the leadership and resources needed for a truly first class school system are sadly missing. From Tyack’s “One Best System” (1974) reveals the bond between business needs and the public school structure while Anderson’s “Advocacy Leadership” (2009) and Aynon’s “Social Class” report how that familiar socioeconomic bond has fragmented in this new world economy. That connection has fragmented under this new capitalism’s 24/7 operational hours to the extent that there is scattered time available for teachers, parents, children and the community to consistently maintain contact. Under these circumstances, those parent-consumers with the most available time then gain the most attention. Those conditions extend to school governance as well where board members with a narrow agenda can form voter coalitions to gain influence from light voter turnout, conditions that have led to greater school policy influence exerted by special interest groups. Public schools have traditionally had an oversight role with the disenfranchised and immigrant populations in our county. With the passage of compulsory education laws in the nineteenth century, early New York City schools kept a watchful eye over immigrant children, not all but those children school capacity would permit. Children,
  3. 3. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 3 with behaviors not unlike those described by Peter McLaren (2007), would learn at least basic communications skills and how to conform to expectations in the emerging US industrial colossus where they could fulfill the need for manual laborers. As Anderson (2009) and many economic analysts agree, a higher level of skills and a smaller workforce are needed in the new capitalism. Unless conditions change, we are teaching a significant percentage of children for a life of unemployment or underemployment. School leadership must address the changing socio-economic environment with a relevant plan. Our assigned readings and videos disclose there are significant differences of opinion about the role of school leadership. Elmore (2005) recommends leadership that is skills, rather than trait, based while Anderson suggests an accommodative triangulated leadership approach more traditionally liberal (humanistic) than the current neo-liberal trend. Stewart believes school leadership must quickly infuse the global economic influence in the curriculum to meet America’s competitive challenge from emerging nations. Murphy takes a more local approach with his belief the school should be scaffolded on a community foundation. Dr. Leithwood searches for a balanced approach that welcomes the yin and the yang, the structure and the spontaneity, in school leadership. All recommendations from these assignments have merit; however, with Dr. Anderson (2009) as the exception, each suggested change has a localized focus that still requires direction from national and global leadership. I disagree with Dr. Anderson’s
  4. 4. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 4 accommodative approach as I believe triangulation an undesirable approach to education. The significant change needed to realign our educational system to learners’ needs can not be accomplished by consensus through the compromise of diverse viewpoints. Our educational system truly needs revision for the benefit of society and not just a refocus to satisfy employers’ needs. School reform should be considered a social justice imperative and, as such, needs transformative leadership on the national scale. Our national history shows charismatic leadership has spearheaded reform of this magnitude. Charismatic leadership of King, Chavez, who needed no elected or appointed office; the Kennedys and Roosevelts who held public office; and supporting national personalities like Mother Jones and Betty Friedan from the labor and feminist movements, drove the social and economic reforms of the twentieth century. Those leaders were unafraid to speak out and to assume great personal risks for needed reform. Our educational system needs champions of this caliber and our course assignments encouraged thoughtful reflection on this need. Filling young minds to achieve success in fact based standardized testing does not suffice as a remedy for global socio-economic concerns. Our demographic assignment led to a better understanding of the accomplishments and strategic plans for Rowan University. As a Pennsylvania resident, a local school district assignment would not have class interest or personal relevance since I spend most of my time far from our local district. Our learning community worked diligently on this project which should encourage further dialog on the direction
  5. 5. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 5 of our institution. As group members collected Rowan University data they became more comfortable with questioning the Rowan purpose and direction as we proceeded with our project. Our class benefited from this course and thank you for this opportunity. There were many job and health related challenges this semester, but I appreciate what we have learned and the literature the course has added to our body of educational leadership knowledge.
  6. 6. McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 6 Bibliography Anderson, G.L. (2009). Advocacy leadership: toward a post-reform agenda in education. New York, NY: Routledge. Elmore, R. Building a new structure for school leadership. Albert Shanker Institute. www.shankerinstitute.org. Accessed September 2009. Friedman, T. Preview of hot, flat and crowded. Washington, DC video. www.thomaslfriedman.com. Accessed September 2009. Leithwood, K. The yin and yang of school reform. Setting the Stage Series. http://workingconditions.net. Accessed September 2009. McLaren, P. (2007). Life in schools: an introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. Fifth Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Murphy, J. Teacher working conditions. Setting the Stage Series. http://workingconditions.net. Accessed September 2009. Stewart, V. Becoming citizens of the world. www.ascd.org. Accessed September 2009. Tyack, D. B. (1974). The one best system: a history of American urban education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. .

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