These are times that make the challenges facing the public schools in California appear almost overwhelming. California seems to make the short list of everything that is changing in our society, both good and bad. Where once the demographics and problems of the larger community were considered peripheral and only distractions to the business of education, such issues are now viewed as central to the function and likely effectiveness of schools. Schools that were once independent and somewhat separate from their communities in the past are now part of a trend that emphasizes shared responsibility and decision-making. Schools are changing and so will the way they are administered be changed.
California is the most populous state in the country with more than 30 million people. There are more than five million children attending California schools and projections run as high as seven million school-aged children by the end of the decade. There are more than 1000 school districts in California ranging from districts that have only one school and a few students, to Los Angeles Unified School District with 700 schools and more than 600,000 students.
Recent funding applications to the state for new school buildings numbered 1,500 with an approximate cost of $7 billion. Only $800 million was available for 210 new schools. There is no prior experience with this kind of growth and no accepted model of how to respond.
The students streaming into California schools also represent new challenges. The changing demographics of this student population and their families are unprecedented in American history. Migration from other parts of the United States continues at a high rate because of the perception that California has employment opportunities, a desirable climate, and good living conditions. In addition, because of its position on the Pacific Rim, there is considerable immigration into California from Mexico, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. California is the point of entry for more than one quarter of all immigrant Americans.
Such changes in the student population challenge the schools because more than one out of four children in California schools has a native language that is other than English. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, these languages number more than 80. In addition to different languages, immigrant children also bring a rich diversity of traditions and cultures.
By the turn of the century, 60 percent of the children in California schools will be from ethnic minorities (almost 40 percent Latino, 15 percent Asian, and 10 percent African American). There will be no majority racial, ethnic, or cultural group in our communities or our schools.
Many of our children live in poverty and family circumstances that we know to be less than ideal. More than 1.75 million California children exist in the circumstances of poverty. The number of children in single-parent households has doubled in the last 20 years. Rates of poverty, infant mortality, and crimes against children are all reported to be rising. Similar increases are reported for teenage pregnancies, school drop-out rates, drug abuse, and gang-related activities.
The kind of picture painted here can represent, depending on perspective, a set of problems or a set of challenges. It is our commitment to the profession to train entry level school administrators that view these changes as challenges and an exciting opportunities to make a difference in the lives of children. Leaders of our schools will need to see the inherent possibilities in restructuring our schools so that the responsibility for their operation is shared with teachers, parents, and communities. Leaders for our schools will be individuals who see collaborative decision-making as empowerment rather than as a threat.
For those of us who train school administrators, it is time to take stock of our efforts. As the schools change, so must our training programs. Leaders for our schools must be individuals who are able to collaborate in the management of schools. The educational administration professorate must likewise look for ways to share the responsibility for the training of school administrators. Both of these changes are vital to the future of the American public schools.
This textbook represents what we hope will become an ongoing project. We are committed to its continued development and refinement and invite your participation. Proposals for additional chapters, major revisions of existing chapters, and additions of new or supplemental material are all encouraged. If you are interested in being a chapter author or co-author, or would like to participate in the development of the second edition of this book, please contact the editor or one of the contributors.
This text began as a joint effort of the faculty of the Educational Administration Program at California State University, San Bernardino. It is in this supportive and collaborative environment that this project took shape. My thanks go to these colleagues (Drs. Blair, Camp, Dolan, Fischer, Lane, Stine, Townley, and Vick) for their individual contributions and their support of the larger effort.
Appreciation for manuscript preparation goes to Lynn Rudloff, Diana Butler, and Mary Robinson. My thanks to Associate Editor Joe Wells for help in manuscript development and Production Editor Stasia Fox for her attention to the final details. My very special thanks to my secretaries, Anita Gronewald and Sandra Hall, for their good work and their support of my various projects.
The last stage of this project was managed by my research assistant, Patricia Hays. Her tireless efforts were appreciated. My thanks to Phil Swartz, who designed the cover and Daniel Swartz who assisted with the overall book design.
All of my projects are a partnership with my friend, colleague, and wife, Jan. This book is dedicated to her.