A descriptive analysis of the activities of the Atlanta Public School's community education planning committee

Norman H. Thomas, Atlanta University

Abstract

Purpose

The primary purpose of this study was to provide a descriptive analysis of the procedures and processes utilized by the Atlanta Public Schools' Community Education Planning Committee in the development of a system-wide school community involvement plan. As a means of accomplishing the aforementioned purpose, the writer acted as a participant-observer and monitored all of the activities of the above mentioned Committee.

Methodology

The descriptive-analysis was the research methodology used in conducting this study. The writer acted as a participant-observer and utilized the techniques of observation, informal interviews and/or conversations, recorder of minutes and attendance, researcher, and writer of the final draft of the proposed plan.

Conclusions

Taking into consideration the writer's observations, analyses, and conversations with all of the individuals involved in this project, the following conclusions and implications are deemed appropriate:

1. Given adequate time, staff support, and directions, individuals with diverse experiential backgrounds can work on a project of this nature and scope with an acceptable degree of success.

2. Given similar responsibilities, group composition and conditions, the professional members of the group would tend to disagree among themselves more often than any of the other categories comprising the total group.

3. Under circumstances similar to the ones described in this study, the students would provide the least amount of input with regard to the development of the end product.

4. The level of individual and group participation in a project similar to the one described herein is influenced greatly by the following factors:

a. The amount of time the individual can contribute to the project.

b. The individual's assessment or view of the importance of the tasks being carried out by the total group.

c. The individual's perceived importance of the activities conducted by the group with respect to his immediate situation. In brief, people tend to take more interest in and support those projects that they feel are related to their personal and/or professional situations.

5. Individuals in groups similar to the one discussed herein, who do not become personally attached to a given plan (idea), tend to serve more effectively as mediators than those persons who do.

Recommendations

The findings, conclusions, and implications of this study warrant the enumeration of the following recommendations:

1. School-community planning of this scope and magnitude should consider

carefully the following factors:

a. The most appropriate time during the school year to develop such a project.

b. The school system's commitment to the area in which the school community group has been asked to work. In brief, the school system should be in a position to assure those persons working on plans for the system that what they have been asked to develop is needed and will be implemented in part or in toto.

c. The amount of time needed to complete the project.

d. The number and varied experiential backgrounds of the persons selected to serve on the school-community planning group. Careful attention should be given to ensuring balanced representation in all categories comprising the group. In brief, if the group has five parents, it should have five students, five teachers, five administrators, five community representatives, etc. This measure would reduce the possibility of one faction within the group overwhelming the others. Also, since student attendance was lower than the other groups comprising the Committee, student representation could possibly be increased as a means of ensuring more student participation.

e. The amount of staff support needed to assist the group in completing its tasks.

2. If the school-community planning group is designing a program that is system-wide in scope, the superintendent should present the formal charge to the membership. This formal charge from the superintendent should outline in definitive terms what the group is being asked to do, why they are being asked, and what will become of their recommendations. Additionally, the time frame for completing the project should be presented.