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Contemporary Education


Public school reform has taken three distinct turns over the past two decades. In the early 1980s, most policymakers blamed a lack of educational productivity on lazy students. Influenced by this argument, virtually every state legislature enacted laws lengthening the school year, lengthening the school day, and increasing high school graduation requirements. Within a relatively short period of time, however, the would-be reformers concluded that intensification of student experiences was insufficient to produce significant improvements. While not abandoning their original conviction, they shifted their attention to a second target-educators. The result was a flurry of proposals to revise or eliminate teacher education curricula and licensing standards. But these actions also proved to be incomplete, and by the early 1990s, the reformers identified a third target- the organizational configuration of schools (Bauman, 1996). Now that reform is focusing largely on school restructuring, cultural change has become a popular topic in school administration. This article explores the meaning of school restructuring and culture change paradigms. A nexus between institutional cultural and communication is proposed, and an argument is made that cultural change will not occur unless those leading the process possess necessary communication knowledge and skills.

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