McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 1
Running Head: Forces of Change Reflection
Forces of Change
Dr. Virginia Doolittle
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
McGeehan, Forces of Change Reflection 6
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.