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Jspr Vol 23-N1

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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Notes From the Editor

ePub

THEODORE J. KOWALSKI

The Journal of School Public Relations exists today because of the dedication and creativity of its founder and longtime editor-in-chief, Albert E. Holliday. As both a public relations practitioner and editor, Al had the foresight to recognize that schools function most effectively when they have a symbiotic relationship with the communities they serve. In addition, he was ahead of others with respect to recognizing the essential nature of communication in administrative work.

Al, along with his wife, Joan, fashioned the Journal to be a practical publication. They wanted the content to provide accurate and highly relevant messages for school administrators, PR practitioners, government officials, and professors. The quality of material found in the first 90 issues attests to the fact that they succeeded.

On behalf of thousands of educators who have been touched by Al’s hard work and dedication, I say thank you. His philosophy shall remain a driving force in this publication.

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School Public Relations and the Principalship: An Interview with Joseph Murphy

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SCOTT R. SWEETLAND
TIMOTHY G. CYBULSKI

D uring the summer of 2000, we were pleasantly surprised to find a new colleague at Ohio State—Joe Murphy. Professor Murphy had given up his post at Vanderbilt University to head up Ohio’s Principals Leadership Academy. The academy is designed to provide professional development experiences for school principals based on the new national Standards for School Leaders from the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC).

Professor Murphy is worldwide known as an eminent scholar on the subject of leadership. He has written more than 150 articles and chapters and authored a dozen books on the subject. In addition, he is chair of ISLLC.

Given that this is our first issue of the Journal of School Public Relations under its new editorship, we thought that it would be fitting to ask Joe a few questions about his thoughts on principal leadership, administrator preparation, and implications for school public relations.

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School Public Relations and the Principalship: An Interview with Steven Mulvenon

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PATRICIA DODD FLYNN

W hat is public relations like “in the trenches”? Steve Mulvenon has served as communications director for the Washoe County (Nevada) School District since 1987. Before that, he was public information director for the Salina (Kansas) Public Schools. In Kansas, he served as president of the Kansas School Public Relations Association. He has been a presenter at the National School Public Relations Association’s (NSPRA) annual seminar and is a recipient of NSPRA’s Gold Medallion. He received his Ph.D. in educational administration from Kansas State University in 1990.

The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is Nevada’s second-largest district, serving the Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe regions. WCSD enrolls more than 57,000 students in 83 schools, and employs about 6,000 teachers, administrators, counselors, and support personnel. Enrollment has nearly doubled since 1970. The student population is about 64% white (not Hispanic) and 36% minority, including American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, and Hispanic students.

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The Top Ten Educational Hot/Nots: Year 2002 Edition

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WILLIAM J. BANACH

T his is my annual list of critical issues facing education. Like the lists that have preceded it for each of the past 22 years, this year’s collection is intended to help you reflect on what was and to anticipate what might be—to help you think about change and seize the opportunities it always presents.

To get the most from this annual list, you’ll need to step away from the urgencies of the moment—those little potholes that we all face every day. You’ll have to sit back and think about the implications of societal trends and issues that will shape the educational agenda during 2002.

(Change must be advocated from a context of understanding.)

We can change anything on our television screen from across the room. Just push some buttons and the channel changes, the music plays, and the sound surrounds. Lately we’ve been trying to change our schools the same way—by remote control. Most educational initiatives aren’t coming from the educators who have to do the work. They’re being legislated from a distance by people who have little understanding of the day-to-day routines of teaching and learning. Or, they’re being advocated by theorists who don’t have to deal with the realities of a hungry child, a belligerent patron, or an outbreak of head lice.

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Decentralization and School Council Empowerment in Kentucky: Implications for Community Relations

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LARS G. BJÖRK
JOHN L. KEEDY

ABSTRACT: We introduce the topic of community building as a central ingredient of systemic reform. After noting that devolution of decision making has been characteristic of many organizations in the 1990s, we contend that decentralizing schooling implies empowerment both of teachers and parents. Having described school councils in Kentucky as illustrative of the twin trends of decentralization and empowerment, we note the (largely) disappointing results on teacher job attraction to council positions and on teacher and parent empowerment. We conclude that the teacher-parent-student relationship for poor families, precisely those targeted by the Kentucky reform cycle, is problematic: Reconfiguring this crucial relationship should in part frame “community relations” for the 21st century.

T he public press for education reform during the past several decades has produced a wide array of state legislation, policies, programs, and proposals for improving schools and student outcomes. National commission and task-force reports have called for revising curricula, instituting high-stakes accountability, restructuring schools, redesigning teacher and administrator preparation programs, and altering school governance structures and decision-making processes.

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Parental Involvement in Schools: Why It Is Important and How to Get It

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M. SCOTT NORTON
JEAN C. NUFELD

ABSTRACT: Parental involvement in schools is important for two main reasons: it increases the probability that students will succeed academically and it contributes directly to school goals and program support. Research studies emphasize that, although effective parent and school relationships should be cultivated, positive parent and child relationships in the home hold the most promise for influencing student achievement. In addition, the article presents specific recommendations of importance for the implementation of an effective parent involvement program in schools.

F ew would argue the fact that client-business relationships in all organizational settings are important, and parental-school relationships in education are no exception. Studies by Burns (2000), Hickman, Greenwood, and Miller (1995), Paulson (1994), and others support the relationship between active parental involvement and increased student achievement, enhanced self-esteem, improved behavior, higher aspirations, and better school attendance. Effective home/school partnerships are an important aspect of instructional leadership for a multitude of reasons. McEwan (1999) says that such relationships result in:

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Teacher Perceptions of Parent Involvement in Middle School

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DOUGLAS W. SMITH

ABSTRACT: Three hundred thirty-three middle school teachers were surveyed about current degree of, desires for, and obstacles to parent involvement in their schools. Teachers desired parents to be involved in PTO/PTA, volunteering, and chaperoning and not with curricular or school governance matters. About 10% of teachers reported parents are actively involved in their school. Reported barriers to parent involvement were inflexible parent work schedules, negative parent attitudes toward school, and lack of parent concern for children. Teachers report the ineffectiveness at using the telephone for communication with parents. Recommendations are made for nontraditional approaches to establishing parent involvement in middle schools.

I nvolving parents in the school can be a very difficult undertaking. Most teachers can tell horror stories about uncooperative, mean, and even violent parents. As a former inner-city middle school science teacher, I can remember many times just scratching my head and saying, “there must be an easier way!” Well, as many teachers have found out, there is an easier way—don’t bother with the parents! As is usually the case, the easy way is not the most effective way. This article presents the feelings, beliefs, and practices of 333 South Carolina middle school teachers regarding parent involvement in their schools.

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Hiring a Superintendent: Public Relations Challenge

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SANDRA LOWERY
SANDRA HARRIS
RUSSELL MARSHALL

ABSTRACT: This case study describes a community faced with hiring a superintendent in a school district undergoing substantial demographic changes. Four steps school leaders followed to establish a strong sense of community based on stakeholder representation are outlined. These steps included collaborating with all stakeholders, creating a profile based on stakeholder input, communicating the profile to a broad base, and interviewing candidates with a clarity of purpose based on the profile.

When longtime superintendent Bill Whatley1 announced his retirement, the board of trustees realized that a new superintendent would bring one more change to the already rapidly changing Rolling Hills Independent School District (ISD), a district of 16,000 students. During Whatley’s 14 years as superintendent, the district had grown from a farming and ranching community with 3,500 students to a fast-growing suburban district. As the city spread into Rolling Hills, the community and the school district both experienced rapid growth and significant transformations in the dynamics of involvement, leadership, and expectations. In addition, the community’s demographic profile changed. What had once been a conservative, rural, Anglo community now looked very different. In fact, for the first time ever, the community had just elected a Hispanic, democratic state senator! Things were changing in Rolling Hills ISD.

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