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Tips for Parents: School-Based Management | PDF

Español/Spanish: Consejos para padres - La administración autónoma de escuelas

Schools across the country have made the move toward school-based management.  Does it have anything to do with your child’s education?  You bet it does.  It also has a lot to do with a need for greater parental involvement in the decision-making process.

What is school based management?

School-based management (SBM) is an educational reform movement that advocates the decentralization of authority and decision making.  It is based on the idea that schools will be more effective when teachers and principals, not school district officials, make decisions about how each school is run.

Is school-based management right for your school?

To determine the answer to this question, it is important that principal, teachers, and parents discuss and reach consensus about critical considerations such as:

  • Who needs to be involved in SBM?
  • Do those involved really believe in shared decision making?
  • What are the reasons for changing?
  • How will change benefit your school?
  • How will these changes occur?
  • Are there realistic expectations of what SBM can achieve?
  •  Will student achievement be improved by SBM?

What’s the upside to having school-based management?  Advocates say:

  • There will be better programs for students.  Instructional decisions will be made by teachers who work directly with students.
  • Another payoff is increased loyalty and commitment by teachers.  When staff members are given the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making, a sense of ownership develops.
  • There will also be greater public confidence in education.  By allowing parents and students to have more input, their interest and support will increase.
  • Better decisions will be made.  By pooling the expertise of highly trained individuals, issues will be examined from a variety of viewpoints.
  • Staff morale will improve as teachers realize that their opinions are sought after and valued.

How about the downside of school-based management?  Critics say:

  • It’s a lot of work.  Having staff members participate in management decisions takes more time and effort.
  • Schools that are already showing weak achievement may get worse before they get better.
  • A change in parental focus is needed.  Parents must shift from the narrow concern of “what is good for my child” to what is good for all children.
  • Parents often start off being dedicated and conscientious participants in the process, but eventually burn out, depriving the council of its most effective participants.
  • New roles and responsibilities could cause feuding among staff members.
  • No turning back.  Once the process is started, it is difficult and traumatic to change directions.

Some barriers to installation of school-based management are:

  • The inclination to resist change and observe the status quo.
  • Budget increases caused by the need for additional staff development funding.
  • A “quick-fix” attitude that places unrealistic expectations concerning both the time needed to successfully install SBM and the anticipated results.

More Parent Responsibility

The chance for greater parent involvement carries with it a responsibility for parents to be well informed on educational issues.  The result of the increased involvement will require a greater time commitment from parents.

The Democratic Way

One of the most attractive advantages of SBM is that in reflecting the family-controlled schools of the original colonies, it advocates the democratic principles so familiar in American society.

For more information:

Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's article School Based Management

You may also find these Tips for Parents helpful:

Tips for Parents: Parent Teacher Confrences

Tips for Parents: Standardized Testing

Tips for Parents: Contact the School

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