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Outside Demands and Pressures on the Public Schools

by J. Flint Waller - 1933

The problem with which this study is concerned is how to deal with the demands and pressures made by outside individuals and groups upon the school officials.

THE problem with which this study is concerned is how to deal with the demands and pressures made by outside individuals and groups upon the school officials. It may be stated in the following specific questions: (1) What is the nature of the outside demands and pressures upon the schools? (2) What are their causes? (3) Who are their promoters? (4) What are their effects? (5) How may they best be handled? (6) What can the school official do to condition his demand situation?

Interviews with the school officials who deal with demands have been the chief source of data for this study. Interviews with newspaper editors and school reporters, school board members, chamber of commerce secretaries, and others contributed the non-school point of view and experience. A small amount of useful material was found in print.


The factors present in any given demand-situation and their relative importance in that situation are such an individual matter that it would be dangerous to prescribe a rule-of-thumb method of dealing with demands. No such panacea is proposed. No substitute is offered for an intelligent ascertaining of causes and other relevant factors, and for dealing with the situation in the light of the best interests of all concerned, with due attention to relative values. However, out of the experience of those who have contributed to this study have come a few principles which have wide application in dealing with demands. Five of these principles follow:

1. The public-relations aspect of a school official's job is a means to an end. That end is effective mutual understanding and cooperation between the school and the public.

2. Since "the public" is composed of many publics, one public in alignment on this subject, another on that, the superintendent finds it necessary to understand, and to be understood by, many groups and leaders.

3. Since demands are expressions of the will and temper of parts of the public, each demand contributes an added opportunity to know better the popular will and temper and to evaluate these more fully.

4. Since many demands are based on incomplete or inaccurate information and interpretation, they offer to the school officials opportunities to capitalize the attention and interest both of the demand group and of the inactive public, and to build up a better understanding of the facts and relationships involved.

5. Not only may school officials come to know their publics better by hearing what demand groups think they know and desire and fear; not only may the public be brought to a better understanding of the facts and their meanings in given situations; not only are tact and fairness essential in dealing with demands that arise; but the officials can do much to determine the number and kind of demands they will have. They can reduce the objectionable demands and can encourage the useful ones. Instead of merely "awaiting attack," they can "take the offensive" and do much to make the conditions in their community conducive to a more effective employment of its interests and its forces.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 34 Number 5, 1933, p. 417-418
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 7270, Date Accessed: 1/27/2022 11:56:58 AM

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