5/17/21 Seth E. Berg EA 748 - Moodle Post Paying Attention to

Seth E. Berg
EA 748 - Moodle Post
Paying Attention to Public Opinion
Essential learning
This chapter highlights the fact that education is an ever-changing field. A
debate about what schools used to be is not as important as a dialogue about where
schools are and what education leaders need to be doing today and into the future.
Community members are becoming increasingly involved in the decision making
that surrounds school development. For that reason, education leaders have to be
adept at building authentic relationships with all stakeholders. Educators at all
levels are becoming increasingly aware of, and concerned with, public opinion as it
relates to student achievement and school success. In part, this awareness and
concern relates to the public’s ability to access information and its consequent
insistence on a comparative analysis of that information. People want to know how
their students and schools are doing as compared to students and schools across the
county and around the world. They want to have a voice in decisions that
perpetuate their schools growth.
Effective 21st Century education leaders attend to all stakeholders’ desire to
have information and to be involved. They are skilled at leading through
communication and relationship building to the extent that their communities are
not misled by massive amounts of information without guidance and support. They
have school-community relation plans in which community members not only
receive information but also are empowered to provide authentic input.
It is essential that school leadership understand public opinion. Many
organizations conduct surveys that reveal important information about public
perception on a large scale. Those data can be helpful to school leaders but cannot
stand alone. Local data needs to be collected as well. Interestingly, polling typically
shows that people have a higher opinion of their community school than they do
about public education nationally. In fact, contrary to what some may believe, there
are data to suggest that public perception of local school achievement is relatively
high and that the general public supports more spending with regard to school
improvement. When school leaders are aware of these opinions they are better
equipped to make informed decisions. There are organizations that can help School
Leaders conduct local polls and gather local data. In doing so, they are gathering
useful information and giving their community a voice.
Often times, discontent with public education arises out of misconceptions.
Many people seem to think that the achievements of our nations schools have
declined. However, data suggests just the opposite. Being aware of the
misconceptions that influence a school community is the first step in creating an
effective school-community relations plan. School-community relations don’t
simply happen. Administrators who neglect to plan are likely to experience
communication problems and discontent among stakeholders. Two essential
aspects of a quality school-community relations plan are visibility and accessibility
of administrators to the communities they serve. There are three kinds of schoolcommunity relations plans: “coordinated,” “centralized,” and “decentralized.” The
main difference between the three is where the responsibility for development and
implementation lies. In the end, building leadership is responsible for maintaining
strong school-community relations regardless of the type of plan that is in place.
Introduction (pg. 3-5)
 Schools and school communities are changing.
 “The involvement or stakeholders in school-related decisions is now an
 “The trend in recent years has been for school leaders in all capacities to focus
increased attention on their relationships with the many publics served by their
 Having greater access to information requires a greater focus on communication
so that information is not misunderstood.
 “The active role of school administration requires leaders to listen and to inform.”
 In so much as each school belongs to each of its stakeholders, each of its
stakeholders should have a voice its development.
 “What is needed is a school-community relations plan that is built on two way
 It’s crucial for school leaders to understand public perception before they are able
to design and implement effective school-community relation plans.
Trends in the Public’s Perception (pg. 5-11)
 Lots of data are collected by reputable organizations regarding public opinion of
education on a national level.
 Data suggests that public opinion about the achievements of our education system
as a whole has improved over the past several decades.
 “...the general public always looks more favorably on the schools in their local
community than they do on the nation’s schools as a whole.”
 “Clearly, as polls regularly show, the public has some strong opinions about our
nation’s schools, but their actual level of understanding regarding some hotbutton issues, clearly is lacking.”
 Polling data indicates that people are generally in favor of paying increased
attention to and spending more money on the development of public education.
 “May people, be they parents, business leaders, or community neighbors want
nothing more than to feel listened to.”
 School administrators should be following national sources of data along with
collecting data.
 Effective administrators give a voice to their external and their internal
Misconceptions Regarding Public Opinion (pg. 11-12)
 “By paying close attention to the public’s perception of schools and their
effectiveness, leaders are able to deal more effectively with misconceptions when
they arise.”
 “The evidence simply does not support the cry that American public education is
declining. In fact, in many ways, the nation’s public schools have exceeded some
of the goals they may have been founded for.”
The Purpose of a plan (pg. 13-16)
 Effective planning is crucial for leadership at every level of education – from
classroom management and instruction to community relations.
 According to Beach and Trent (2000) there are four essential characteristics of an
effective school-community relation plan: Simplicity, Visibility, Accountability,
and Brevity.
 An effective school-community relation plan has to have a solid structure and be
 Visibility and accessibility are among the most important attributes of effective
school leaders.
 “Just as a lack of visibility will hurt an administrator’s ability to relate to members
of a school community, so too will it hurt the leader’s ability to be seen as an
effective leader.”
 After building and implementing a school-community relation plan administrators
should regularly check in on its effectiveness by using a “yardstick” that has been
incorporated into the plan with careful thought about the intended outcomes.
Three Kinds of Plans (pg. 16-19)
 A Coordinated Plan is influenced by collaborative efforts between central office
administrators and local schools.
 A Centralized Plan is designed and communicated by central office
 A Decentralized Plan is designed and communicated by school leadership.
Application/ Implications
One thing that resonated for me as I read this chapter is the idea of public
perception through a lens misconception. As we continue moving toward interest
and inquiry, critical thinking, collaboration, project based learning, technology
integration, and other 21st century style instructional strategies, that cutting edge
research suggests will help us support students on the road to college and career
readiness, we’re repeatedly running into the challenge of low standardized test
scores. Conversationally, community members seem to understand and support
progressive learning; however, when scores show up in the media parents begin
pressing teachers for the “drill and kill” instruction that many perceive to be the
antidote. Effective school-community relation planning might help to alleviate some
of the angst surrounding high stakes testing and perpetuation best practices in
classroom instruction.
Extending the Dialogue
This chapter deals with the idea of public perception and how it effects the
development of a school community. I work in a district where most stakeholders
are very vocal and very involved. Of course, there are pros and cons to that
involvement. We benefit greatly from strong educational values and multifaceted
support but we spend a huge amount of time on school-home communication. To
the group: How does community involvement (or a lack there of) effect your
daily time management? If you could design an ideal community
participation structure what would it look like?
I know that both my district and my school send out surveys with multiple
purposes over the course of the school year. I am not certain that the entire school
community (teachers, parents, students, business leaders, etc.) is made aware of
the results/outcomes. To the administrators in the group: Does your
district/school have a school-community relation plan? If so, which type? Do
leaders in your district effectively communicate results of data collection and
consequent intentions to both your external and internal publics?
It seems that everywhere I turn there is some media source dealing with the
“failure” of the American education system. I understand that there are many
factors contributing to our successes and failures but the generalizations and
criticisms can sometimes become overwhelming. To the teachers in the group:
Do you feel that the media is unfair in its representation of American public
school teachers? If so, do you think that a quality school-community relation
plan could make a difference in how stakeholders read that representation?
Could it eventually change reporting of education issues all together?
The chapter suggest that school leaders at all levels need to be keenly aware of
public perception in order to affect positive change. Christy, as a school
counselor I’m guessing that you have a unique insight about public
perception. Are you able to/asked to use that insight to help give teachers
and administrators a leg up on parent communication?