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School as Community

From Promise to Practice

Gail Furman

Publication Year: 2002

An increasingly important and appealing concept for school renewal is that of school as community. While community holds multiple promises for schools, little is known about the practice of community in schools. This collection furthers our understanding about the nature of school community, its practice in public schools, and the role of leadership in this practice. Of particular importance is the question of how community can be created and sustained in K–12 public schools with highly diverse populations.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series, Educational Leadership


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-20

This book is about school as “community”—an appealing image for schools that has been the subject of a growing body of educational research and literature in recent years. The concept of community in education is not new. It has historical threads going back to John Dewey’s work, particularly his writing in The School and Society (1899/1990), and was the subject of continual scholarship ...

SECTION I: The School as Community: Extending Our Conceptual Understanding

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1. The Complexity and Coherence of Educational Communities: An Analysis of the Images that Reflect and Influence Scholarship and Practice

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pp. 23-50

Schools in the United States began as integral—even organizing—institutions within local communities (Cremin, 1988; Tyack, 1974). Typically supporting local values and manifesting relationship patterns congruent of surrounding neighborhoods, such institutions were both extensions and reflections of their environs. As Tyack (1974) notes, “School and community were organically ...

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2. Postmodernism and Community in Schools: Unraveling the Paradox

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pp. 51-76

Paradox has become a frequently used term in recent literature on community in schools (Furman, 1996; Merz & Furman, 1997; Shields & Seltzer, 1997). In an earlier book, for example, Carol Merz and I explored a number of apparent paradoxes around the concept of community in public schools, including the notion that homogeneity can and should be the basis for community when ...

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3. The Role of Community in Spiritually Centered Leadership for Justice

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pp. 77-94

The purpose of this chapter is to examine how and to what extent ideas of community surface in the literature and in our research on spirituality and leadership.We overlay the analyses of the literature and our empirical work to consider critically how the ideas associated with spirituality and community are similar to, and different from, one another. Ultimately, we want to know ...

SECTION II: Research on School Community: Focus on Teachers

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4. Contradictions of School Community in Restructuring Elementary Schools: Lessons from a Case Study

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pp. 97-118

From our first day visiting the primary team at Wellington Elementary School (a pseudonym), we realized we were observing unusually rich communication between educational professionals. Five Wellington Grade 1-2 teachers and two special educators sat around a living room circle, talking about their students, deciding which of their one hundred twenty children should be reassigned ...

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5. Tensions and Sturggles in Moving Toward a Democratic School Community

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pp. 119-142

Many American schools continue to operate from a bureaucratic model of organization in which important decisions are made hierarchically by principals, superintendents, and school boards and are handed down to teachers in the form of rules, policies, and curriculum packages. In such schools teachers teach largely in isolation, rarely engaging in communication, observation, or ...

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6. Learning from Educators: Insights into Building Communities of Difference

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pp. 143-164

Although the discussion of what constitutes inclusive communities dates back several decades, it appears to have come to the forefront of educational thinking and writing when Sergiovanni issued a plea in 1994 to change the dominant metaphor and to think about schools as communities rather than as organizations. A sense of community, which would change a disparate group ...

SECTION III: Research on School Community: Focus on Students

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7. Schools as Communities for Students

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pp. 167-198

Hargreaves, Earl, and Ryan (1996) echo the voice of many researchers and educators who believe that “one of the most fundamental reforms needed in secondary or high school education is to make schools into better communities of caring and support for young people” (p. 77). The term community is used in different ways in the literature, but common to many of these definitions ...

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8. Thinking about Community from a Student Perspective

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pp. 199-216

During the last decade, one dominant normative metaphor for schooling has been that of community—a notion frequently associated with the concept of a community of learners (Barth, 1990) or a community of inquiry (Fullan, 1993). Perhaps the most commonly cited description of community is that of Sergiovanni (1994) who called for “a collective we” that would emerge from ...

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9. Children with Severe Disabilities in Regular Classrooms: Risk and Opportunity for Creating Inclusive Communities

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pp. 217-232

In the past decade a great deal of controversy has been generated around the inclusion of children with disabilities in regular public school classrooms (Gartner & Lipsky, 1987; Shanker, 1994). Unfortunately, the theoretical, empirical, and practical ground over which the “inclusion wars” have been fought has been dominated by the deficit-oriented ideology of special education ...

SECTION IV: Research on School Community: The Ecological Perspective

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10. The Microecology of Social Capital Formation: Developing Community Beyond the Schoolhouse Door

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pp. 235-265

In the mid-1990s, the region was not unlike other regions in the northeastern corridor of North America that had suffered the decade of decline brought about by the deterioration of an industrial economic base. The artifacts of the wealth that were generated from that base remained in the large, solid sandstone secondary schools that in previous decades had accommodated the children ...

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11. Listening to Communities: An Ecological Perspective on Education and Human Services

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pp. 266-276

Over the past half-century, the children of the poor, and an array of racial, ethnic, and status minorities, have acquired a variety of labels as levels of public resources have expanded and the regulatory reach of various government agencies has deepened. Such labels cover a host of concerns about the well-being of children and the institutions that serve them, not the least of which is ...

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Conclusions: What is Leadership For?

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pp. 277-290

As discussed in the introduction; this book is about the reemergence of the concept of community in schools. The introduction provided a “map” of the multistranded terrain of this topic, which has been vividly illustrated in the chapters collected here. I now wish to summarize the “lessons” about the practice of school community that emerge from these chapters, giving particular ...


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pp. 291-294


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pp. 295-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780791488355
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791454152
Print-ISBN-10: 0791454150

Page Count: 307
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: SUNY series, Educational Leadership