Medium 9781475824018

Jspr Vol 32-N3

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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 Guest Editor

ePub

ART STELLAR

This issue of the Journal of School Public Relations addresses some matters that preK–12 practitioners consider particularly important. Current events are compounding the complexities of communicating for all educators, especially for principals. Lack of funds to sustain or improve education is a universal problem. Likewise, having the capacity to provide continuous high-quality professional development is another constant on the agenda. The dilemma of accountability and evaluation in the face of opposition to standardized testing confronts many educators around the country.

In “Aristotle Reclaimed,” John Zimmerman and Taylor Sharp propose that Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle is a useful tool for reviewing school communications. They go on to suggest that social media offers a viable means of recapturing the essence of the classical communication triangle. They provide examples of what is needed in today’s digital world while acknowledging the barriers.

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Aristotle Reclaimed

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JOHN ZIMMERMAN
TAYLOR SHARP

ABSTRACT: Given that social media dominates informal and often formal communication routes, we argue that schools must reshape their attention to a fourth rhetorical dimension: the media through which they communicate. Specifically, schools must find ways to embrace social media as a mechanism to reach their broad audiences. This article identifies clear obstacles to integrating social media platforms into the communication strands utilized by schools, the rhetorical necessities for doing so, and clear methodologies for making the transition from the “letter home” to the tweet and Facebook post work in a developing digital society.

Communicating well with an audience depends on being able to answer two questions: What does my audience want to know? and How do they want to know it? Personnel in many school districts are struggling to elevate community support because they failed to adequately answer the first question and were unable (or unwilling) to attend to the requirements of the second question. The failure of communication is evident in the midst of the continuing national public education crisis. As school systems and schools struggle to escape the paper-and-pencil age and engage the digital spaces and devices that define and drive current conditions, they wrestle with deciding how to communicate with a broad range of stakeholders. The purposes of this article are threefold: first, to acknowledge what we see as major barriers to substantial and authentic communication with the contemporary public audiences; second, to reframe the complex issues for how school personnel can better com-municate with their wide audiences, within classical and modern understandings of Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and triangulating on the medium of the message; third, to provide, by way of narrative example, successful experiences of other enterprises bridging the barriers and the rhetoric.

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Strategic Principal Communication

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JAKE HENRY
AARON WOODY

ABSTRACT: As communities become increasingly diverse and criticism of traditional public schools intensifies, some states, such as North Carolina, have enacted legislation that encourages alternative forms of schooling. This condition has resulted in new challenges for principals to communicate broadly and often with stakeholders in an effort to build essential relationships. This article details our conceptualization of strategic principal communication, a four-part process that we have applied in our schools.

As principals in a large urban district, we agree that one of our most important leadership tasks is developing strategic, honest, and innovative methods that effectively communicate the narrative of our schools. We contend that effective communication in administration is an essential facet of school success, but unfortunately, it is a skill that some leaders do not possess. If principals and superintendents do not learn to be effective communicators and if they do not develop dispositions toward applying this knowledge, negative perceptions, false reports, and institutional stigmas are likely to persist.

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More Than Money

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GUY M. SCONZO
JAMIE MOUNT

ABSTRACT: Since 2002, year after year, lack of financial support has been identified consistently as the biggest problem facing public schools. This article details three programs deployed by a suburban district: annual fund campaigns, “principal for a day” programs, and classroom wishlists. These initiatives serve to raise additional funding and build stakeholder knowledge and support for their local schools.

Wrapping paper, cookie dough, and candle sales as a means of raising money for schools are going the way of slide rules, chalkboards, and pocket protectors, at least in the Humble Independent School District (ISD), located in a Houston, Texas, suburb. Without a doubt, public schools still need fund-raising activities. Since 2002, insufficient funds have been identified annually as the greatest problem for public schools. But in Humble ISD, principals are being prepared to lead discussions that yield not only tangible financial support but also invaluable community engagement. Annual fund campaigns, “principal for a day” programs, and classroom wishlists are proving to be effective public relations strategies that do more than just fund-raising. What is the power behind these initiatives? Success lies in the opportunities they provide to reframe conversations about public schools.

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Growing PreK–12 Educators Through a Partnership of School Districts and a Regional University

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BRENDA A. RUSSELL
JEFFREY L. KIRK
BOBBIE J. EDDINS
L. ANN FARRIS

ABSTRACT: In central Texas and regions across the country, community leaders are calling for university–community engagement, including development of structures for community-based research and service learning. Including the community in decision making regarding continuing professional education serves as a link between universities such as Texas A&M University–Central Texas and the needs of the communities they serve. Together, they build on each other’s strengths, provide opportunities for research agendas, and address needs critical to regional well-being. The College of Education’s process to develop a pilot continuing professional education program was based on input from those whom it serves: central Texas school districts.

The purpose of this article is to share the work of Texas A&M University–Central Texas (A&M–Central Texas) with school district partners to develop an anchoring role in offering a regional continuing professional education (CPE) program. This includes a review of the literature regarding the components and best practices of CPE, a review of initial proposed steps for program implementation, and a report of the progress.

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Policy Implications for Continuous Employment Decisions of High School Principals: An Alternative Methodological Approach for Using High-Stakes Testing Outcomes

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I. PHILLIP YOUNG
PAUL FAWCETT

ABSTRACT: Several teacher models exist for using high-stakes testing outcomes to make continuous employment decisions for principals. These models are reviewed, and specific flaws are noted if these models are retrofitted for principals. To address these flaws, a different methodology is proposed on the basis of actual field data. Specially addressed are the identification of variables beyond the control of principals via a multiple regression approach and how these variables can be used to level the playing field when continuous employment decisions are made for principals on the basis of high-stakes testing outcomes.

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and Race to the Top legislation (n.d.), a common metric for measuring student achievement has emerged, albeit unique to each state (Nichols & Berliner, 2008). This within-state metric involves outcomes obtained from a standardized student achievement test adopted as well as administered under the auspices of each state’s department of education. Results from these statewide tests have been labeled high-stakes testing outcomes (HSTOs) and have been used to construct report cards for a school district or school building (e.g., Cupertino Unified School District, n.d.) and to make comparisons among school districts or school buildings within the popular press (e.g., Boren, 2011), and they have been legislated (B. D. Baker, Oluwole, & Green, 2013) by many states to be one of several job facets used to evaluate the job performance of building-level principals.

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