26 SES 02 A, Educational Leadership - a Changing Discipline?
The role of school superintendents is dependent, among other things, on the educational structure within which they act. Decentralized systems allow the superintendents larger degrees of freedom to operate while centralized systems impose various restrictions on their functioning. Decentralization implies "establishing a somewhat flat organizational configuration" (Kowalski, 2013, p. 94); meaning that schools, principals and teachers are granted some degrees of authority and autonomy to act. In Israel, the decentralization policies have called for increased school autonomy, but at the same time, maintained central regulations and control mechanisms which undermined school autonomy (Inbar, 1987).
Decentralization, in Israel and in other countries, offers new opportunities for local education authorities to redefine their responsibilities towards schools and to extend their influence over schools (Addi-Raccah & Gavish, 2010). It allows superintendents to gain more autonomy in issues such as recruitment of new members, budget planning and decision-making processes. Nevertheless, the central office in Israel has not undertaken the decision yet to change the superintendent's role definition while implementing a policy of autonomy. On the one hand, the decentralization idea calls for granting greater autonomy to comprehensive superintendents and to school principals so that they will be accountable for what is taking place in their schools. On the other hand, the superintendents are expected to follow the regulations that are determined by the central administration every once in a while, and make sure they are implemented in schools. This tension between the call for greater autonomy, on the one hand, and adherence to procedures and regulations, on the other hand, is well reflected in the centralization-decentralization issue.
More than 25 years ago, Inbar (1987) questioned whether autonomy is possible in a centralized educational system. According to his view, the decentralization act was not successful because the top position officials, including inspectors and superintendents, opposed giving up their power and the right to control school administration (policies, plans and activities). Consequently, school autonomy became an abstract notion with no likelihood to be truly implemented. This was also found with regard to providing parents the opportunity to take an active role in school governance. It seems that only in unique schools have they had some impact on school matters (Nir & Bogler, 2012), but the decentralization trend emphasizes the importance of granting some impact in school to interest groups such as the parents.
In the current study, we aim at exploring the perceptions of school superintendents in Israel regarding their ability to be leaders in forming policies that relate to their district as opposed to just implementing the policies that are determined by the Ministry of Education. Being able to decide upon policies that have an impact on the schools within one's span of control implies that decentralization is prevailed and autonomy is granted to the superintendent. Thus, congruence exists between the context within which the superintendents act and their actual work.
Addi-Raccah, A., & Gavish, Y. (2010). The LEA's role in a decentralized school system: The school principals' view. Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 38(2) , pp. 184-201. Inbar, D. (1987). Is autonomy possible in a centralized education system? In Isaac A. Friedman (Ed.). Autonomy in education: Conceptual framework and implementation processes. Jerusalem: The Henrietta Szold Institute. pp. 53-71 (Hebrew). Kowalski, T.J. (2013). The school superintendent. Theory, practice, and cases. Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Sage. Nir, A. E., & Bogler, R. (2012). Parental involvement in school governance and decision making in Israel. Journal of School Public Relations, 33(3), 216-236.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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