Building Constituencies for Public School Reform
Janice M. Hirota, Lauren E. Jacobs2003
A growing number of public school advocates, funders, researchers, and scholars seek to promote deep and sustainable school reform by fostering the meaningful participation of stakeholders in shaping education policy; by supporting links between schools and their communities; and by framing school reform within broad social, economic, and political contexts. Underlying these approaches is the conviction that only the participation of all stakeholders in education decision-making will ensure sustained, systemic, and widespread reform to create quality, equitable education for all children. Constituency building is central to such work. The two-year study, conducted in partnership with the Academy for Educational Development, provided a forum where 21 national, regional, and local reformers could share and examine their collective knowledge of, experience with, and insights into the work of building, mobilizing, and sustaining constituency engagement. The report identifies pivotal values, tasks, and challenges of constituency building, as well as some of the many promising approaches and accomplishments of study participants. The analysis also looks across individual statements to identify larger commonalities and differences that mark the work. In addition, the researchers draw on the growing body of literature on the topic to help place the work of these practitioners in a meaningful context.