Networks and Reform in American Education
by Ann Lieberman & Maureen Grolnick - 1996
Educational reform networks are becoming increasingly important as alternative forms of teacher and school development in this time of unprecedented reform of schools. These networks appear to be a way of engaging school-based educators in better directing their own learning; allowing them to sidestep the limitations of institutional roles, hierarchies, and geographic locations; and encouraging them to work with many different kinds of people. In a study of sixteen educational reform networks, we found that they shared organizational themes relating to: (1) purposes and direction; (2) building collaboration, consensus, and commitment; (3) activities and relationships as important building blocks; (4) leadership as cross-cultural brokering and facilitating; and (5) dealing with the funding problem. Regardless of their differences, the sixteen networks we studied appear to have in common agendas more often challenging than prescriptive; learning that is more indirect than direct; formats more collaborative than individualistic; work that is intentionally more integrated than fragmented; leadership more facilitative than directive; thinking that encourages more multiple perspectives; values that are both context-specific and generalized; and structures more movement-like than organization-like.
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