Engaging exclusionary lines of community: principals' understandings, from theory to practice

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University of Alabama Libraries

School-community partnerships have become one avenue for educators to invest in the child by partnering with sources beyond school walls. Yet, it has been argued that partnerships simply serve current interests and agendas (Anderson, 1998) and do little to offer authentic change (Auerbach, 2010; Popkewitz, 2004). Thus, school-community partnerships face the same fate as other reform efforts of reproducing the current system unless school leaders are willing to take the risk to critically examine those aspects of school and society that are so often seen as someone else's problem. Through this exploratory qualitative study, I interviewed nine principals in the Southeast, from rural, urban, and suburban regions. I asked questions to help identify how principals perceive their schools' host communities and discover what school-community partnerships the principals pursued, supported, or desired to have implemented within their schools. The study was conducted using a poststructuralist understanding of community as both "imagined" and existing within a discourse which excludes or devalues certain members (Anderson, 1983; Butler, 1993; Foucault, 1990). Data consisted of interviews of principals and parent-teacher organization (PTO) presidents, field notes, and archival data. Findings reveal principals occupy a precarious role in utilizing partnerships to improve their schools and communities for the students. The implications for this study underscore the need for a strong focus on self-evaluation of beliefs and understandings of community within principal preparation programs.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Educational leadership, Educational administration, Sociology of education