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«DOCUMENT RESUME ED 278 089 EA 019 067 AUTHOR McCune, Shirley D. TITLE Guide to Strategic Planning for Educators. INSTITUTION Association for ...»

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Four out of every ten adolescent females will become pregnant; two will have abortions, and two will give birth. In 1983, women under 20 had 14 percent (nearly 500,000) of all births. More than half of these mothers were unmarried, and the vast majority of the one million pregnancies were unplanned.49 Although blacks make up only about 15 percent of the teenage population, half of the births in 1983 were to black mothers. Black teenage girls are much more likely to give birth than white girls. The birth rate for black teenage girls has declined, however, and a corresponding increase has occurred among white teenage girls.

If a teenage girl gives birth, there is a 30 percent chance that she will have a second or third child. Every day 40 teenagers give birth to their third child. Forty-three percent of female school dropouts do so

GUIDE TO ST Gic PLANNING FOR EDUCATORS

because of pregnancy or marriage. Half of the teenage mothers drop out of school never to return.41 Trends in family patterns suggest that the stability and the resources provided by two-parent families can no longer be considered the norm for children. This places pressures on the children, the families, and the institutions that serve them. Children from single-parent families reportedly have more discipline problems in school and lower academic achievement. While this seems natural given the increased support that a two-parent family provides, schools must recognize the problems facing single-parent children and make an effort to provide interpersonal support as an integral part of the learning process.

Sex Roles Changes in family patterns are inextricably linked with changes in the roles of women and men in our society. Perhaps one of the most important social changes in this century has been the movement of women into the paid work force_ At the beginning of the century, less than 20 percent of women worked outside the home. Today, 53 percent of all women over 18 are in the paid work force, and 53 percent of all married women work outside the home."

Despite women's increased participation, they have been unable to command the salary of men. Women currendy make only 61 cents for every dollar that men earn. This inequality of earning power becomes especially important when we understand that women increasingly have shouldered the responsibility for the support of children.

Divorce, lower wages, and limited services create a situation wherein more and more women and children live below the poverty line. In 1984 nearly 25 percent of all children lived in poverty." In urban areas the percentage is much higher. For example, 40 percent of all children in New York City live in poverty.44 Before 1974 the majority of the poor in America were older citizens. The majority of poor in America are now children. Fifty-six percent of the children living in households headed by women are poor.45 There are dramatic differences in childhood poverty among racialethnic groups. A black child is about three times as likely as a white child to be born into poverty; a Hispanic child is more than twice as likely to be poor. Sixty-nine percent of black families headed by women are living in poverty, whereas 23 percent of two-parent black families are poor, Figures on childhood poverty by age and race are provided in Figure 1-7.46 It is important to remember that numerically the largest group of poor is white, even though poverty rates vary significantly among racial-ethnic groups.

If we are to change the economic future of these children, we must look to education as the means of developing the knowledge and skills

ThE CONTEXT FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING

–  –  –

U5 Bureau at the Census that will prepare them for productive adult lives. Schools must recognize the special needs of disadvantaged children and give them what they need for academic succeos Given the increasing number of minority children, the importance of this task cannot be overemphasized.

Society will require citizens with high levels of knowledg and skill, Minority students continue to lag behind white students on measures of academic performance. Although progress has been made, black and Hispanic students tend to score far below their white peers on standardized tests. While effective schools research demonstrates that this gap can be reduced, communities and schools commit themselves to ensuring that all children will be adequately prepared for a future society.

Challenges for Education The changing demographics of our nation have created our current problems and herald more difficult ones in the future. A democratic society is built on the assumption of equal opportunity for all. Reversing the trend toward ever-larger inequities among groups calls for renewed and expanded efforts of the larger community and many institutions. Schools remain the key institutions for responding to the needs of people and building the types of communities that are essential to our Future survival and well-being.

The changing demographics of our society will require important

changes in our schools, including:

Expanding programs of early childhood development. Early childhood is a critical developmental time during which a child's selfconcept and framework for intellectual and social abilities are established. The child's general language skills are formed, and social development skills emerge. A major longitudinal study of disadvantaged children cited the value of preschool experiences because of a "chain

GUIDE TO STRATEGIC PLNING FOR EDUCATO S





of cause and effect."47 Preschool provides increased intellectual and social competence, giving children a head start in first grade. Students with preschool experience demonstrate higher scholastic achievement, are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to engage in crime, more likely to be employed as young adults, less likely to go on welfare, and less likely to become teenage mothers.

The study concluded that the investment in early childhood education is beneficial, The s s that accrue to society from less crime, welfare, and other costs were seven times the cost of one year of preschool and three-and-one-half times the cost of two years of preschool.

Early childhood education is critical for the disadvantaged and desirable for middle-class children. Intellectual and social skills gained during this experience benefit all children. Preschool also provides parents with needed child care during the day. They continue to grow in popularit: as more working mothers decide to work and pursue careers.

Preschool programs provide a natural extension of public school services. Schools are usually located in communities where such services are needed. Preschool programs may be provided free, or there may be a fee. As the need for such programs increases, schools should examine what is taught in preschool and how to head off academic problems that might appear later on.

Child support services. A large variety of child support services are useful to all children, but especially to disadvantaged children.

These vary from programs that focus on extended educational acLivities to those that provide before- and after-school activities for children of working parents (latch-key programs), newcomer center programs for children of recent immigrants, expanded learning programs for students in need of assistance, programs for gifted children, and alternative education programs. Other programs may deal with dependency, child health, and nutrition, and may be offered in collaboration with other community agencies and groups.

A variety of learning methods. The increasing heterogeneity of school children has had a profound impact on curriculum arid instructional concerns. Curriculum should include content that is relevant to the lives of children. Instruction should reflect the needs of a diverse population with differing learning styles. Increasing the variety of learning methods in the classroom can improve student learning for all groups.

Options for secondary students. Wnile definitive studies are n(7 available, a preliminary study suggests that the movement for higher standards for high school graduation appears to help good students (those already getting As and Bs) improve their scores on standardized tests and probably their general levels of learning. Students with lower

THE CONTEXT FGR STRATEGIC PLANNING

grades do not show similar improvement in test performance or in levels of learning." Another rtudy suggested that recommendations for a more structured curriculum might lead to less student choice and greater student stratification, resulting in more student failure.49 These effects may be overcome by providing more options for students in terms of curriculum content and school size, structure, and climate. The assumption that a single "tough" curriculum will meet the needs of all students does not correspond with what we know about the levels of diversity among students. Having a variety of program options is especially important for secondary students.

Multicultural education. Multicultural education programs in schools are not new, but most are based on a comparatively limited definition of culture. Typically, multicultural programs focus on human relations, intergroup relations, and some understanding of other cultures within the American experience. Important as this approach may be, cultural similarities and differences should be the framework used throughout the curriculum.

Culture may be defined as any way a group does things. Helping children understand global cultures, the reasons behind cultural mores and decisions, and the ways cultural differences affect international relations are essential to prepare them for an increasingly diverse society and world.

Educational services for adults. The need for education is not limited to children. Adult educational needs run the gamut from basic skills, job training, and personal growth to individual interests. Some schools are responding to these needs and extending adult education programs. Examples include parenting programs, job training, and personal counseling.

Changed demographics in our society present a new set of challenges for schools. If schools ignore these challenges they will be met by other agencies, thereby weakening the schools' position. On the other hand, the challenges can be seen as opportunities for strengthening the educational system and the schools' position in the community. It would be naive to assume that all districts will welcome the changed demographics and find positive ways to deal with such problems as greater age diversity, racial-ethnic diversity, and changed family patterns and sex roles. We can safely assume, however, that those schools that meet this challenge will ensure not only their own but also their community's survival.

Organizational Changes A third set of forces that shapes education is the changing structure of organizations such as government, business, and industry. These

GUIDE TO STRATEGIC ANNING FOR EDUCATORS

_ changes, largely the result of changing technology and economics, will inevitably affect educational institutions. Some manifestations of these changes are already evident in education, and they parallel structural changes already observed in other sectors of society. A number of changes could be identified, but the four that seem most relevant to education are the decentralization of organizations, high tech-high touch, multiple options, and participation. Each of these is discussed below.

The Decentralftation of Organizations The decentralization of government, business, and unions is a hallmark of the information society. Until World War II American organizations were patterned toward bignessbig business, big government, and big unionsbut a reversal of this pattern was evident as early as the 1950s as organizations began to decentralize.

Decentralization has increased significantly during the past ten years. Many government decisions have shifted from federal to state agencies and, in some instances, from state to local agencies. Corporations have "flattened" their management structures, delegating more tasks to lower levels and requiring more employees to manage themselves. Many large corporations have found ways to organize work around self-contained but interdependent units that give people a greater sense of belonging and identity. The lesson of size is that small seems to be better for producing effective and efficient organizations.

Decentralization is taking place in education in a variety of ways.

State educational policies have replaced federal programs and policies.

Local policy and decision makers become increasingly important as decentralization of programs and decisions begins to move from state to local levels.

A second manifestation of decentralization is the reduction in the number of extremely large schools. Schools with more than 1,800 secondary or 600 elementary students are no longer desirable. There is definitely a trend toward smaller schools with more positive learning climates.

Another example is the decentralization from the district to the building level. This development, known as school-based management, grew out of the effective schools research, which highlighted the importance of building management in developing a supportive climate for learning, The goal of school-based management is to let those people make decisions who will carry them out, thereby providing building principals with greater autonomy and freedom. This does not imply a less important n- active role for the district. On the contrary, it requires an even bett district structure and operation, with the district providing direction and resources for schools.

THE CONTEXT FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING

The application of school-based management is an example of "tightloose" principles identified by Peters and Waterman in In Search of Excellence.m The structural systems of the district (physical facilities, personnel, budget, transportation, etc.) and the district program systems (goals, curriculum, instruction, assessment, staff development, etc.) must be "tight" so that they will provide direction, goals, expectations, and standards for evaluation. Building staff must decide how to accomplish these goals; the methods of goal attainment are "loose."

District goals provide an umbrella or structure for schools while simultaneously offering flexibility for building goals and approaches.



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