Organizational sustainability for high school reform: A case study
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Traditional comprehensive public high schools have proven to be difficult to change. Governing mandates, economic, social, and technological changes are some of the forces defining the need for our schools to change, but most reforms have not resulted in lasting nor profound improvement for our schools (Black, 2002; Horn, 2002; Harris & Chrispeels, 2006; Olson, 2003; Tyack & Cuban, 1995). Instead, leaders need to view their school as an organization, a network of complex systems, and tend to the state of the organization. Our focus must shift from individual reforms or our ability to incorporate them into our school, to our school's ability as an organization to renew itself in an ever-changing environment, including resiliently bouncing back from any adversity. This study investigates a comprehensive public high school that resides in a first ring suburb of an urban school district in the Northeastern United States. The questions guiding this research are: 1. To what extent is this high school sustaining itself as healthy organization that is self-renewing? 2. How is the school approaching the task of being such an organization? An organizational health survey was administered to the teachers and administrators and analyzed, interviews were conducted, and New York State School Report Card data were analyzed. Fullan reminds us (2001) that only through specificity can we go beyond generalities of leadership qualities found in much of the literature. By exploring the organizational sustainability of this typical school, a leader is better equipped to view his or her school as an organization and tend to its sustainability.