23 SES 08 B, New Forms of Governance and School Improvement
The current crisis situation in Portugal has encouraged an educational debate on the transnational experiences around the role of the local space, in face of the declining traditional centrality of the State in the government of the education system (Barroso, 2011). A major argument of this paper is that, like in most European and world national contexts, new forms of multi-level governance are expanding and defining our institutions.
The emergence of new dynamic forces and a range of particular restructuring education policies came along with the move to the decentralization of the provision of specific education services. Our research team has been engaged, for the last three years, in a research project “Building Local Networking in Education? Decision-Makers Discourse on School Achievement and Drop out in Portugal” focused on how networks and partnerships operate within these new modes of regulation, and their implications for schools, municipalities and regions in the country.
This paper presents some findings from this study with an emphasis on how the collaborations between schools, local authorities and the communities, and between public and private actors in 22 municipalities, constitute a major change in the local education space (Araújo, Sousa, Costa & Loureiro, 2011).
The issues related to the context of new governance have attracted the interest of researchers (Salamon 2002; Daly 2003; Kooiman 2003) and practitioners. As a result, more research is needed to pursue the investigation of the factors that led to the configuration and potential success of networks to resolve the issues of equity and democracy. The recent decentralization, devolution, and new public management in the Portuguese educational policies have contributed to the development of complex networks, through which public policy is formulated and implemented.
Our concern to uncover some under-discussed issues is directed to the role of both the political actors and the school leaders, by analyzing their discourses through which they make sense of their contexts and identities.
Governance can be understood as encompassing both structure and process, both institutional and procedural dimensions (March and Olsen, 1995). Our discussion addresses two themes: i) how leadership is adapting to the political involvement of different local stakeholders, assuming that governance networks are non-hierarchical, horizontal mechanisms that facilitate negotiation and collective responses; and ii) what ideational, institutional and interpretative accounts emerge from the discourses of the political and school leaders, assuming that it is through the discourse that they make sense of the tensions and contradictions in which they develop their agency in the current political, economic and social framework.
The frontiers between these leading actors and the distinction between educational and political spaces is becoming blurred in the search for common goals and resources but not less framed by their own identities.
Borrowing the concept of “respatialization” from Ozga (2012), we consider its appropriateness for defining these new education territories emerging from the reconfiguration of these actors and networks at local level.
The approach to the discourse analysis is an attempt to conceptualize the main ideas uttered by these actors in their explanations of their framed policy ideas (Campbell, 2002; Surel, 2000).
Araújo, H. C., Sousa, F., Costa, I., Loureiro, A., & Portela, J. Building local networking in education? Decision-makers’ discourses on school achievement and dropout in Portugal. In B. Boufoy-Bastick (Ed.), Cultures of education policy: Comparative international issues of policy-outcome relationships. Strasbourg: Analytics. (forthcoming). Barroso, J. (2011). Conhecimento e Acção Pública: As políticas sobre a gestão e autonomia das escolas em Portugal .In J. Barroso & N. Afonso (orgs), Políticas Educativas: Mobilização de conhecimento e modos de regulação. V. N. Gaia: Fundação Manuel Leão. Campbel, J. (2002). Ideas, Politics and Public Policy. Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 28. 21-38. Foucault, M. (1972). The Archaeology of Knowledge. Londen: Routledge. Hadfield, M. & Chapman, C. (2009). Leading school-based networks. Abingdon: Routledge Kooiman, J. (2003). Governing as Governance. London: Sage March, J. M. & Olsen J. P. (1995). Democratic Governance. Free Press Ozga, J. (2012) Introduction. Assessing PISA, European Educational Research Journal. 11(2), 166-171 Salamon, L.M. (ed.) (2002). The Tools of Government: A guide to the new governance. Oxford: University press Surel, Y. (1998). Chronique - Idées, intérêts, institutions dans l’analyse des politiques publiques, Pouvoirs, revue française d’études constitutionnelles et politiques, n°87, p.161-178. Van Dijk, T. A., 2001, 'Critical Discourse Analysis', in Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D. and Hamilton, H. E. (eds.) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, Oxford, Blackwell, pp. 352-371.
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