This chapter examines the importance of school-community relations, the national and must mount strategies to establish good school-community relations. of School Administrators (AASA), posed several suggestions to improve public. These strategies for school improvement provide a starting place for school leaders wanting to engage the school community in the learning process. It will provide an opportunity for relationships and friendships to develop. strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader community members in school improvement and support for student .. by SIG funding, cultivated relationships among school staff.
Train teachers and administrators to communicate effectively with parents. Integrate parent involvement programs into the school's master plan for academic accountability. Jenkins acknowledges the issue of choice and extends it to a discussion of the taxonomy of communities by posing questions like: Is it the school plan for parent involvement sensitive to the different educational backgrounds of the parents and does it take into consideration the different learning styles that all individuals have?
Is it sensitive to the different ethnic and cultural heritages of families in the school community? With the changing family structure, are all caregivers taken into consideration - parents, grandparents, relatives, and foster parents? Are the schedules of working parents given consideration?
First, the recognition that education should be a client-based business, one which responds to a remarkably diverse client community. Second, that schools exist in a political milieu, one in which either schools are to be responsive to political pressures or the political systems will redefine them. The second type of community-school relations program widely evident in California is the adopt-a-school program. From the smallest rural districts to the largest urban systems, adopt-a-school programs proliferated during the last decade.
The programs vary in scope and breadth and most often provide the stimulus for extra assistance in the forms of tutors, funds for equipment and materials, and funds for participation in community events like professional and collegiate athletic events, visits to museums, and field trips. Typically these programs afford the school the opportunity to offer incentives and programs that would not be possible with district revenues. Benefits for the businesses to be involved are in addressing pressing educational issues at the school site and to be apprised of the remarkable diversity of local schools.
The third type of school-community relations program evolving in California is the shared decision-making program which is spreading throughout the state. The program which has received the most regional and national attention has been the program negotiated between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers of Los Angeles.
The district and the teachers' union have negotiated a process for involving administrators, teachers, classified staff, community members, and sometimes students, into making decisions on topics derived through the collective bargaining process. In terms of school-community relations, shared decision-making gives schools the opportunity to improve not only these formal processes, but the informal processes which, when properly constituted, can positively affect the interaction between schools and their diverse communities.
The fourth category of school-community relations programs, the locally derived program, is in evidence throughout the state. Whether through offices like the Public Information Office or as a designated responsibility of traditional school personnel, virtually every district has some type of formal school-community relations program.
The Roles of Administrators The differentiated roles of the administrative hierarchy are as evident in school-community relations functions as they are in any other aspect of school organization. The recognition of these roles and forces is central to administrator effectiveness. The Board of Education The major school-community relations function of boards of education was put succinctly by Kimbrough and Burkettp.
Successful school-community relations programs are the result of detailed planning. The educational organization should commit to writing a clear and concise policy statement with respect to its public information program. The policy statement should be approved through formal action by the governing board of the organization, should be published in its policy manual, and should be reviewed by the governing board annually.
The policy statement should express the purposes of the organization's public information program and provide the delegation of such authority to the executives of the organization as necessary to achieve the objectives.
The provisions of the policy statement should be made known to the entire staff or membership of the organization through all appropriate means. Commitment to the achievement of the purposes of the organization's public information policy should be demonstrated through the allocation of adequate human and financial resources to the public information program.
From the base of a well-crafted policy statement, it becomes the province of the superintendent and his or her immediate support staff to design the procedures of a school-community relations program. The Superintendent and District Staff The superintendent and his or her staff have responsibilities which are two-way in nature. They have the responsibility to see that clear communications flow from the school to the community and, conversely, to see that effective communications flow from the community to the school.
Schools traditionally have performed the former role of informer to the community in adequate terms. The difference between less than adequate and exemplary programs appears to be the degree of well-planned school-community relations programs, as opposed to those which just happen.
The administrative role of listening to communities is one which has emerged rapidly in the last forty years. It represents the formal and informal ways in which schools elicit communities' perceptions of schools and the unique community needs which the schools must address. A selected list of those functions are: Assuming initiative in the planning of processes and procedures for keeping the board, staff, and public well-informed on school matters. Helping all personnel connected with the school system become sensitive to the meaning and importance of their contacts in the community.
Working with key groups and influential individuals in the community on significant educational policies and problems. Taking leadership to providing the opportunities required for district-wide involvement of citizens in programs for educational improvement.
Community relations means relating, and relationships are ongoing. A well-designed school-community relations plan at the district level sends a clear message to the school sites as to the value placed on this mode of communication.
Possibly the most important school-community relations function of the superintendent and his or her district office staff is to develop procedures for relating with the media. Well-developed procedures are important as a vehicle for dispensing information to the community and for responding to queries from the media. Secondarily, well-developed procedures identify primary responsibilities for those who respond to inquiries from the media and guidelines for that relationship.
This process is of particular importance to site level administrators because they often will not have immediate access to district level administrators. When inquiries come from members of the media, they should appear informed and responsive. The media represent the open access of the community to schools. A relationship built on openness and accessibility is crucial.
How to Improve District and Community Relationships Through Public Relations | Education World
A second level of responsibility of the superintendent and his or her staff is the communication with the employees and students within the district. This includes coordinating internal publications, coordinating formal committee structures to address professional issues, developing and disseminating procedures for use in emergency situations, and keeping the focus of schools on students.
The successful implementation of clear communication procedures with teachers, classified employees, and students provides a positive support for communication with the community at large. The Principal and the School Site The roles and responsibilities of school site personnel closely parallel those of the superintendent and district level administrators.
Site level personnel are also responsible for communication to and from their communities. They are responsible for having well-designed procedures for communicating with their communities, and for having systems of communicating with school personnel and students.
Each of these is an important category of events which can be orchestrated at the school site. Too often publicity about school site events lacks a professional touch. Both printed materials and direct personal contact must be of the highest professional order. Publications should carry with them the recognition that the media are a powerful source of public opinion about schools.
Similarly, highly professional presentations to community and parent groups can be a way of engendering support for schools. In addition to the caution to insure that all printed materials are technically accurate and professionally organized, it is equally important that they be free of educational jargon.
Finally, special school events, whether they are curricular or co-curricular, provide a way for the school to put its best foot forward. Our various communities enjoy seeing their children performing at their best and are more likely to be supportive of schools when they participate in well- organized student-centered activities. The principal's role in crises is one of the realities of the modern age. Twineham and Jay have described the crisis situations faced by principals as being an opportunity.
In addition to the aforementioned need for a well-designed media relations process, is the recognition that in times of crises it is important to have accessible spokespersons who are credible, well-prepared, and articulate. With these two factors in place, the responsible communication of the facts of a crisis are more likely to occur. Well-designed media relations processes and well-versed spokespeople should counter the negative effects of any emerging rumor mills.
Future Trends The roles of school administrators and teachers have become increasingly complex over the last two generations. No longer are administrators and teachers living and working in an environment isolated from the community. Today's schools exist in a complex environment of strong political overtones.
The principal, superintendent, and teacher of the s are seeing the community take a forthright role in school processes. It will be the effective school leader who knows how to orchestrate linkages between the school and its communities. The recognition of the complexities of the community is vitally important to school personnel being effective in their jobs, to students being socially and academically successful, and to the evolving definition of the roles schools play in this society.
In California by the middle of this decade, the student population will be multicultural to the extent that there will be no majority group. In an unprecedented fashion, educators are providing programs which respond to the needs of students with diverse language experiences.
At least three trends in California bear watching. First, the immigration of students from other countries is projected to continue unabated and will provide challenges and opportunities to schools and their communities. Third, the community relations role of school administrators, as a consequence of these and other pressures, is going to broaden.
The Small School Principal and School-Community Relations. Small Schools Fact Sheet.
It has been reported by various sources that over 15 percent of California's student population was born in another country. Projections are that this trend will continue and is likely to expand.
Given the state's position on the Pacific Rim, it is no surprise that the bulk of immigration is from Mexico, Central America, and countries of Asia. Though the policy considerations for this demographic shift have implications at all levels of federal, state, and local government, the impact is most directly felt at the local school district level.
The challenge for the local school district is to assure access to the school system, provide a quality educational program by appropriately trained educators, provide English language instruction, and to provide for the special needs of immigrant children California Tomorrow, Given that many of the children are coming from war-ravaged countries, their special needs will often include responding to trauma caused by war.
The issue of school choice is likely to preoccupy the attention of school administrators for the next generation. It may become for administrators of today and tomorrow what school desegregation has been for the last generation, a political hot potato that fails to respond to the attainment of education for the historically lowest-achieving one-third of the population.
While discussing the merits of AmericaPellicer and Stevenson note: Despite the fact that, to date, there is no real body of convincing research to suggest that choice will improve classroom instruction for a majority of youngsters, America will most likely propel choice to the forefront of the national educational agenda.
School choice provides options to conventional schools by creating a series of break-the-mold schools. They are to be designed to provide better options to existing, failing schools. Those opposed to America mainly focus on the issues of national standards as not insuring the educational needs of those currently being underserved in schools. Whatever the issues may be, the message for school administrators is clear: It is important to be well-versed on the text of America and any similar state level initiatives.
There is little doubt that the various communities each school serves will be coming down on all sides of these proposals. For the next few years, school administrators can be conduits for assuring that accurate information is disseminated. Concurrently, it will be the wise administrator who keeps in touch with the opinions of both the formal and informal community leaders. Robison typifies the school-community relations-aware superintendent in her comment: If anyone tells you they have a strategy for working with the community, they have probably missed the mark.
In any school or district, there are multiple communities and special interest groups. Each has its own agenda and communications should be tailored specifically to the needs of each. It is important to note that none of this detracts from the instructional role of either the district level or site level administrators.
What it should do is to provide the administrator with a keener understanding of the needs of the student population. Conclusion The latter half of the 20th century has witnessed the school-community relations role of the administrator evolving from a depoliticized function to one responding to the educational needs and feelings of a diverse community.
It can be no other way. The effective administrator must be alert to the educational needs and the political pressures in the community. A well-designed formal school-community relations program, augmented by an effective informal communications network, will help meet this goal. Discussion Questions What is meant by communities as pluralistic entities? Discuss as many classifications as possible and give examples of each. What is the responsibility of the administrator in responding to constituent communities whose agendas are appreciably different from his or hers, or those of the district?
How do communications with the school's internal community differ from those with the external communities? How are they similar? Should there be differences? Why or why not? What is the responsibility of the principal on an important school-community relations issue like school choice, when he or she disagrees with the superintendent?
Suggested Projects or Activities Interview your principal, a district office administrator, and a teacher union leader and ask them to identify key community groups and leaders.
Ask them for the key community issues presently before the district. Compare and contrast your findings. Analyze them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Make recommendations for their improvement. Your school district is growing rapidly, mostly due to foreign immigration. As the principal, what activities would you conduct to welcome these families to your school?
How would you get them involved in the school? The local newspaper does not print much about your school, or education in general. As the principal, what steps would you take to increase media coverage? Suggested Readings California Tomorrow. Crossing the schoolhouse border.
The school and community relations.
A four step process for school public relations. Schools in the spotlight. Thrust for Educational Leadership, 20 7 Education Codes of California. West's Annotated California Education Codes.
Start at home to improve home-school relations. Community relations activities - a buffet of ideas.
Building Community-Schools Relationships (communityschools)
Thrust for Educational Leadership, 17 5 Managing a crisis in the school - Tips for principals. Getzel's models in educational administration. Handbook of research on educational administration. A principal challenge for the 21st century. Who needs to know what. Don't knock an opportunity. Many people are eager, or at least willing, to cooperate with the school in working towards the development of positive community relations. Citizens might assist the school principal by doing the following: Differing expectations and power struggles between community groups or between school administrators and community groups can result in problems for the principal.
In a study of rural Alaskan schools, McBeath and others a reported that a majority of principals felt parents expected to be involved in the operation of the school or its processes. On the other hand, fewer than half of the principals reported being involved in civic and community affairs unrelated to the school.
A principal might face some of the following dilemmas while managing school-community relations: Because of limited time, principals need to determine carefully the most feasible methods for evaluating each situation. Possible means of evaulation include: Bruner lists the following 10 ways to get the community to come to the school: A majority of the administrators surveyed also stated that parents wanted feedback from teachers and principals on how well their children were doing in school.
The same study found that successful school-community relations prevailed in schools which allowed citizens to use the library; advertised events by newspaper, radio, or television; had a cafeteria or restaurant service; or opened gym or pool facilities to community members. Other sucessful efforts to promote positive school-community relations include: Salt Lake City, UT: Lewis, Ted, and Everett D.