The Little School System That Could: Transforming a City School District

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SUNY Press, Mar 27, 2008 - Education - 171 pages
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The Little School System That Could is a story about transformation. In 1995, equipped with not much more than a vision of the quality education that urban students deserved, Tom DeBolt, the new superintendent of the Manassas Park School System, set into motion a series of reforms that transformed the district. By 2005 every school was accredited, passing rates on state tests had doubled, and the school system was attracting national attention. Daniel L. Duke examines the districtís ten-year turnaround, from four organizational perspectives and addresses the critical role of professional and political leadership in overcoming the challenges of low morale, scarce resources, changing demographics, and dysfunctional school-community relations.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMIC CHANGE
2
DOING ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY
4
WHY IS THE MANASSAS PARK STORY IMPORTANT?
6
ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK
7
The Birth of a School System
9
A NEW CITY AND A NEW SCHOOL SYSTEM
10
A PLETHORA OF POSTPARTUM PROBLEMS
13
FEATURES OF MANASSAS PARKS NEW ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
107
A Future Full of Questions
115
HOW WILL MANASSAS PARK COPE WITH CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS?
116
WILL LOCAL REVENUE FOR EDUCATION CONTINUE TO BE ADEQUATE?
119
HOW LONG WILL THE POLITICAL ALLIANCE HOLD?
121
WILL STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT CONTINUE TO IMPROVE?
123
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN TOM DEBOLT LEAVES?
125
Understanding the Process of School System Transformation
127

SCHOOLING IN AN UNSUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT
23
CAUSE FOR HOPE
27
An Improbable Choice for an Impossible Job
31
THE CARDS DEBOLT WAS DEALT
33
DELIVERING ON THE PROMISE
39
ENVISIONING THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL
43
FROM BRAINSTORMING TO BRICKS
48
RAISING ACHIEVEMENT IN AN ERA OF ACCOUNTABILITY
51
Excellence Begins Early
55
WHERE WILL IT BE AND CAN WE AFFORD IT?
56
PLANNING THE NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
59
WHAT ABOUT LEARNING?
66
A Foundation for Sustained Success
73
IT TAKES MORE THAN A LEADER TO MAKE A LEADERSHIP TEAM
74
CHARTING A COURSE TO SIGNIFICANCE
81
THE FINAL INGREDIENT FOR SUCCESS
92
A Maturing Culture of High Achievement
99
MULTIPLE INDICATIONS OF SUCCESS
100
THE POWER OF POLITICS
129
THE IMPACT OF RECULTURING
131
THE NECESSITY OF STRUCTURE
133
THE POTENTIAL OF PEOPLE
137
A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO SYSTEMIC CHANGE
140
The Significance of Manassas Parks Transformation
143
SCHOOL SYSTEMS CAN BE TURNED AROUND
144
A CHANGE PROCESS CHARACTERIZED BY ACCELERATING INCREMENTALISM
146
SCHOOL SYSTEM CHANGE BENEFITS FROM LOCAL ADAPTATION
149
SIZE PROBABLY MATTERS
150
DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVED FACILITIES
151
THE NECESSITY OF BROADBASED COMMUNITY SUPPORT
152
TRANSFORMATION STARTS AT THE TOP
153
TRANSFORMING A SCHOOL SYSTEM CAN TRANSFORM A COMMUNITY
156
Notes
159
References
161
Index
167
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Daniel L. Duke is Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books, including Education Empire: The Evolution of an Excellent Suburban School System and coeditor (with Margaret Grogan, Pamela D. Tucker, and Walter F. Heinecke) of Educational Leadership in an Age of Accountability: The Virginia Experience, both also published by SUNY Press.

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