Teachers describing democratic school governance





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The purpose of this study was to answer the question, How do teachers describe democratic principles in their school governance? Rettig (2010) defines democratic institutions as those with the following five essential characteristics: liberty, common good, equality, diversity and honesty, openness, and fairness. Qualitative in nature and through the use of triangulation--case study, surveys and interviews--important information was collected to help understand how teachers describe democratic principles in their school governance. Seven informed consent licensed staff courageously and willingly shared their personal and professional stories. Surveys cast out a broad net and helped define various themes. The interviews helped flesh out those themes. Case study allowed an opportunity to get an up-close and personal experience with an organization in its first year of operation lead by a leader of democratic values. My experience as an ethnographer revealed that there are many ways to show the democratic themes. For example, the words written on the school's entry way, the university pennants hanging in every hallway, the talking piece used in meetings to ensure all voices are heard they all speak to the democratic principles as described by Rettig. Furthermore, from the interviews surfaced the follow democratic themes and characteristics: inclusiveness, freedom of speech, input from stakeholders, respectful dialogues, open door policy, accountability and transparency. Recommendations for future research on this topic include larger scope and more samples, a larger research site and include non-licensed staff, parents and students in future study. In addition, further research should look into the correlation between schools that embody democratic principles as described by Rettig to student achievement and the culture and morale of the people who work in them.

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