This scenario involves a curriculum issue, the district level administrators, school level administrators, teachers and parents. The district is one of the largest in the state and is situated in a large urban area. The SES in the district ranges from very low to high-middle class. The district has a number of buildings: a K-8 building, a P-3 building, a 4-6 building, a lab school run in coordination with the local university, and a Jr. High (7-8). In addition to the public schools, within the district’s boundaries, there are a number of parochial and private schools. Each of these buildings has a very distinct culture based on the parents’ expectations, the school leadership, and the local area SES.
During the past five years, across the district, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with the Language Arts curriculum and student test scores specifically in fundamental Language Arts concepts. Two years ago, the superintendent initiated district-wide Language Arts curriculum review process. The curriculum review committee consisted of: one teacher each from grades P-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8; the P-8 district curriculum coordinator; two school board members; two high school seniors who attended and graduated from the elementary district’s schools, the high school curriculum coordinator, and an Elementary Education faculty member from the local university that works closely with the district schools and the Lab School.
The state has also been dissatisfied with the Language Arts curriculum and the test results. As part of its 7 year curriculum review cycle, the statewide learning objectives and expected outcomes in Language Arts were revised three years ago with required statewide implementation this year. Using the new curricular objectives for each grade, the district Language Arts Review Committee selected a textbook series to be used for K-6 and a literature based approach for grades 7 and 8. The new Language Arts curricula were approved by each of the local school councils and the district board. The new series was introduced to the faculty during the past spring semester. A series of in-service meetings was held to in order to: assist the faculty into transitioning to the new curriculum; discuss instructional techniques; and identify materials available to support the new series. There was also a voluntary attendance informational parent meeting held after the boards had approved the series.
The new curriculum was introduced district-wide at the start of the fall semester. There did not appear to be any issues until late October. The adopted 3rd–grade Language Arts textbook included a unit that contained a number of folk tales and poems. The readings related to trolls, giants, princesses, and witches. One of the unit’s assignments required the students to read a number of rhyming witches’ spells and to write their own rhyming spell. A group of parents from the K-8 school became very upset with the stories and the assignment. They scheduled a meeting with the principal to express their concerns about what they perceived to be witchcraft being taught in the school. They left the meeting very dissatisfied and with the assurance from the principal that the curriculum would not be changed. The next morning, a larger group of parents, including some who had students in other grades, decided to picket the school. The local media covered the picketing during the evening news.
The superintendent and the principal have different leadership styles (e.g., Trait, Style, Situational, authoritarian, participative, delegative, servant leadership, transformational, etc.).
In a formal written analysis:
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