The Miami school district, which has announced that due to increases in enrollment that were not expected that the school boundaries for the upcoming year will be redrawn. The school board has hired experts to redraw school boundaries to be submitted for next year. Under this plan, many students will not be able to stay at their present school. Parents are objecting to the school board about the proposed plan on the basis of: (1) educational quality; (2) increases in travel time; (3) crossing economic and cultural boundaries; (4) effect on property values; and (5) social impacts to children. The objective of this work is to develop a plan to address the concerns of stakeholders giving consideration to who the stakeholders in this situation are and what the negotiation strategy should be to support the school board in their redrawing of the boundaries while simultaneously addressing stakeholder concerns. This work will additionally examine how ethics and culture affect the decisions to be made.
I. Objections to Miami School District Changes
The objections of parents to the change proposed for the Miami school districts are reasonable objections including concerns about the quality of education, the potential increases in time needed to travel to and from school, the crossing of economic and cultural boundaries for many students, the effects on property values and the social impacts to children who will be attending different schools with different demographics than the schools that they previously attended. Because these concerns are reasonable in nature a plan must be devised that is found acceptable to all stakeholders and toward this end, the inclusion of stakeholders in the school redistricting decision is vital.
II. Identification of Stakeholders
Stakeholders identified in the school redistricting initiative include the students, the parents, and family of students, neighborhoods in the school districts, teachers, school staff, and school administrators as well as all employees of each school.
III. The Research
It is reported that "the movement to consolidate schools must be seen as part of the larger 20th-century effort to "professionalize" education. To the reformers known today as history's Progressives, putting schools in the hands of professional educators was seen as a cure for both the corruption of urban school systems and the parochialism of rural systems. That meant moving away from what they derided as the inefficient, unprofessional, and "backward" practices of small community schools." (Berry, 2004) It is additionally reported that the "longtime head of Stanford's school of education, Ellwood P. Cubberley, who is also known as the "…leading reformer of the early 20th century" holds that there are three specific advantages to larger schools: (1) the reduction of the ration of administrators to teachers resulting in more efficient centralized administration; (2), larger schools facilitate more specialized instruction -- by age level, subject area, and level of ability; and (3) consolidated schools could provide better facilities at lower cost. (Berry, 2004)
Berry writes that the research findings on the same are irregular and contrasting outcomes are reported. The work of Fischer and Tienda (nd) reports that residential location "…is a powerful indicator of social position that affects life chances because many economic opportunities and social resources -- notably affordable housing, quality schools, and jobs that pay family wages -- are unequally distributed geographically. Access to transportation, quality health care, public safety, and myriad recreational and social amenities also are dependent on residential location."
The work of Farmer (2009) states "Equity and adequacy in funding are continually debated both in the courtrooms and in local political arenas. McFadden (2006) found, "Too few state policy makers will support efforts to increase funding for education if it means either breaking their oath not to raise taxes or decreasing funding for other social services." Farmer states that it is possible to overcome barriers posed by objections of stakeholders and specifically states as follows: "Empathic communication can be a powerful tool in minimizing the negative consequences of difficult decisions." (2009)
Farmer states that it is possible to cope with negative consequences arising from difficult decisions through use of the following practices:
(1) Clearly communicate your organizational objectives