the formal and informal power structure in my urban district.
• Paper 1 October 9
Using the Book Owens, R. G. & Valesky, T.C. (2014). Organizational behavior in education: Adaptive leadership and school reform (11th edition). Boston: Allyn &
Bacon/Pearson. Must use Chapter 11 Pages 319-335
• Candidates will analyze the formal and informal power structure of their organization. Paper 1 due. Conflict in Organizations: the nature of conflicts in
organizations, the dynamics of organizational conflict, managing organizational conflict: win-lose, win-win, contingency approach
MY school district is exactly what is listed below but these are not my words. They are taken from random articles. Please use them as a reference or if using them
they have to be referenced correctly. My district is an informal organization.
Behind the formal rules, classroom and school size and structure, and goal statements is another layer to explore—the informal system, or what really happens in
schools. Whenever you enter a classroom, especially for the first time, interact with peers or teachers, or determine what you really need to do for a class, you are
dealing with the informal system. In the second part of this chapter we look at this aspect of what goes on in school organizations and its importance for the overall
understanding of educational systems.
Schools Are Not Businesses
Stop and think how difficult it is to create high-performing businesses where everyone agrees what success looks like and market forces are aligned around achieving
results. Now imagine leading a public school system, where forces just as powerful as the market pull you in different directions.
First, consider the sheer complexity of the system, its students and their needs, and its performance issues. Boston, a typical midsize urban school system, has almost
58,000 students and about 8,300 employees and spends approximately $850 million annually. Students frequently change neighborhoods and schools during the year. The
students come from 114 countries; 17% are learning to speak English for the first time; and 74% are from low-income families. Considerable disparity exists in
leadership capability and student performance across Boston’s 145 schools. For example, 70% of the students across the district’s 54 elementary schools who took the
state reading test in 2005 were graded “proficient.” However, the proportion of proficient students in individual schools ranged from 44% to 92%. In four of the
schools, 85% of the students scored at or above the proficient level. In five other elementary schools in the district, less than 55% of the students did so.
Second, U.S. schools have very strong—and vocal—stakeholders whose views are often divergent. Parents have different ideas about what it takes to educate their
children. Donors, who contributed more than $1 billion to public education in 2005, earmark support to their favorite panacea du jour. Unions adhere to work rules in
labor contracts that make it difficult to assign high-performing teachers to the struggling schools that need them most.
Meanwhile, elected local, state, and federal officials pursue policies that are disconnected from student performance, are unrealistic given available resources,
conflict with one another, or all of the above. Consider the following examples:
• During her six years as superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, Arlene Ackerman raised students’ performance on standardized state tests from
fourth to first place among urban systems in California, both in gains and overall. Nonetheless, the school board forced her to resign during the 2005–2006 school year
because of personality conflicts and her insistence that classroom instruction take precedence over the board’s pet causes. (For example, she refused to release
classes for a daylong protest against the Iraq war that the school board had authorized.)
• In 2002, the Florida legislature passed a constitutional amendment to reduce class sizes, which required districts to expand their teaching staffs dramatically. The
mandate ignored the fact that some large districts, including Duval County, where Jacksonville is located, were already struggling to find qualified teachers.
• To achieve the goal of making all students in the United States proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014, the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires
districts and individual schools to set annual targets for raising students’ academic performance. Schools that do not meet their targets face sanctions, including
losing federal funding or students being allowed to transfer to higher-performing schools. However, the act allows each state to set its own educational standards and
design its own tests. Schools in states whose tests are rigorous, such as Massachusetts, run a greater risk of sanctions than do schools in states whose tests are much
less demanding, such as Arizona. Moreover, the superintendents in states where standards are low and whose tests focus on basic skills must choose between educating
students at high levels or aligning their curricula to focus on basic skills in order to produce the outcomes required by a subpar state assessment.
To make matters worse, district offices are often dumping grounds for administrators and teachers who performed poorly in the schools, and even bright, highly
motivated individuals generally lack the training needed to perform well in district office jobs. Schools of education and state certification programs rarely require
proof of leadership and management skills. In his 2005 report, “Educating School Leaders,” Arthur Levine, then president of Columbia Teachers College, “found the
overall quality of educational administration programs in the United States to be poor.” He wrote that “the majority of the programs range from inadequate to
appalling, even at some of the country’s leading universities.”
Operating under these conditions and lacking a management model to guide them, superintendents find it difficult to create and implement strategies for steadily
improving student performance throughout their districts. Instead, they pursue the latest hot ideas for transforming education and make decisions that are politically
expedient rather than managerially sound. The result: District offices wind up with a slew of unrelated initiatives that collectively consume massive resources and go
nowhere fast; superintendents either burn out or are pushed out. The average tenure of urban superintendents is fewer than three years.
District offices wind up with a slew of unrelated initiatives that collectively consume massive resources and go nowhere fast.
No wonder a broad range of critics—from academics and business executives to principals, teachers, and parents—have argued that the only way to improve student
performance in urban school systems is to radically downsize or even eliminate the district office. In the past 15 years, efforts to decentralize authority have gained
One of the biggest manifestations of this sentiment is the charter school movement. Charter schools are legally independent public schools that operate outside the
district office’s authority. Since 1992, nonprofit and for-profit organizations have created more than 3,500 charter schools, most of them in urban areas. While
approximately 20% of the charter schools in the United States have produced dramatically positive outcomes in terms of student achievement, they, too, have a poor
track record in achieving excellence on a large scale. Student-achievement levels have varied greatly across all charter schools; as a result, their average
performance is only slightly better than that of all traditional U.S. schools. In response, operators of charter schools are wisely creating central organizations to
build and administer accountability systems, share best practices, and recruit and retain teachers. Like the senior teams of urban districts, the leaders of these new
organizations have no place to turn to learn the management practices they need to perform these functions. They, too, need a framework for developing solid strategies
for improving student performance districtwide and for aligning their organizations with those strategies.
New Role for the District Office
One of the fundamental flaws in the initiatives to transform urban schools in the past 25 years has been their tendency to focus on a specific—often structural—
solution. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent more than $1 billion in the past few years creating small schools in more than 400 cities across the
United States. As the foundation itself acknowledged, these efforts fell short. Student performance hardly improved.
To succeed, reform efforts must be much broader. They must address all aspects of a district’s organization. Certainly, the most important work going on in urban
school districts is the daily interaction between teachers and students in the classrooms. However, to strengthen that interaction, schools must create conditions that
enable teachers and students to consistently perform at high levels. District offices are uniquely positioned to increase the ability of all schools, not just some, to
do so. Specifically, district offices must carry out what we call the strategic function—that is, they need to develop a districtwide strategy for improving teaching
and learning and to create an organization that is coherent with the strategy.
The term “strategy” is widely used in public education, but our research suggests that it generally doesn’t mean much. About one-third of the districts PELP studied at
the beginning of the project in 2003 did not have explicit improvement strategies. Another third trotted out thick binders that they called their strategic plans,
which were loaded with pages of activities that lacked rhyme or reason. The remaining third of the districts had valid strategies, but their plans had not been widely
communicated; only the superintendent and a few senior managers could articulate them.
The formal organization is the one that’s usually represented on a diagram showing the functions and responsibilities of the organizations (usually shown as a
rectangle like this one:
It would have names, and perhaps other information. But the informal organization is how an organization REALLY gets business done. I’m sure that in this example, that
people in personnel can chat with an account executive without going formally up the chain and down again. That would be a typical pattern for MOST business, while
only very serious or formal transactions would actually traverse the org structure as shown. Many organizations have moved to less traditional/stilted organizational
forms that are much less hierarchical and attempting to follow a more informal process where teams are more dynamic, and have more freedom to communicate with anyone
“to get the job done”. The challenge is to balance order vs chaos and maintain productivity, legality, overall goals etc.
Reasons for informal organization
There are many different reasons for informal organization:
• Informal standards: personal goals and interests of workers differ from official organizational goals.
• Informal communication: changes of communication routes within an enterprise due to personal relations between coworkers.
• Informal group: certain groups of coworkers have the same interests, or (for example) the same origin.
• Informal leaders: due to charisma and general popularity, certain members of the organization win more influence than originally intended.
• Different interests and preferences of coworkers.
• Different status of coworkers.
• Difficult work requirements.
• Unpleasant conditions of work.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Formal organization is a fixed set of rules of intra-organization procedures and structures. As such, it is usually set out in writing, with a language of rules that
ostensibly leave little discretion for interpretation. In some societies and in some organizations, such rules may be strictly followed; in others, they may be little
more than an empty formalism.
• To facilitate the accomplishment of the goals of the organization: In a formal organization, the work is delegated to each individual of the organization. He/She
works towards the attainment of definite goals, which are in compliance with the goals of the organization.
• To facilitate the co-ordination of various activities: The authority, responsibility, and accountability of individuals in the organization is very well defined.
Hence, facilitating the co-ordination of various activities of the organization very effectively.
• To aid the establishment of logical authority relationship: The responsibilities of the individuals in the organization are well defined. They have a definite place
in the organization due to a well defined hierarchical structure which is inherent in any formal organization.
• Permit the application of the concept of specialization and division of Labour. Division of work amongst individuals according to their capabilities helps in greater
specializations and division of work.
• Create more group cohesiveness.
• Well defined rules and regulation
• Determined objectives and policies
• Status symbol
• Limitation on the activities of the individual
• Strict observance of the principle of co-ordination
• Messages are communicated through scalar chain
• It is to best attain the objectives of the enterprise.
• Hierarchical work distribution or clear division of labor.
These schools are often severely under-resourced, especially in the “resources” that matter like effective leadership, collaborative and productive teams of smart- and
hard-working teachers in it for the long haul, appropriate materials (especially when so many materials are mass-produced and created for a more White and affluent
context), adequate, flexible and responsive programming (from courses offered to enrichment programs to supplemental/remedial programs). They often exist in highly
politicized urban districts where decision-making is fractious and policy-makers prioritize other goals above the intellectual, social and emotional needs of students.
In this setting, most teachers will work hard just to survive; they will quickly leave for places where they have a higher likelihood of thriving.
Teachers in urban schools daily encounter students who are under-prepared, students who appear to be uninterested in their own development and future, contentious
relationships between school personnel and families/community members, etc. Having neither a nuanced understanding of the historical and political factors that
produced “a” above, nor a deep appreciation of identity formation, multiculturalism and diversity, teachers can easily frame these serious issues as the result of
individual deficits and defects, shaped by family dysfunctions rather than as expressions of the basic inequities, inequalities and power dynamics of a post-
industrial, capitalist economy. With these assumptions in play, many teachers in high poverty urban schools struggle to develop relationships with their students and
to respect, understand, empathize with and/or believe in them. When these connections are not present, teachers will seek them elsewhere.
Make personnel decisions that recognize schools as communities and ecological systems where each member and his/her assets must be tailored to the needs of each site
and the other members of that community.
Give teams of educators the appropriate resources to support successful collaboration, effective innovation and investments of professional time, energy and expertise
geared towards on-going student success (coming to school, staying in school, being engaged in school activities, taking challenging courses, earning respectable
Select programs wisely, implement them carefully, measure them using appropriate metrics and timelines, and study them to see if they are working. Stay the course if
something is successful, study it so the reasons for its success can be replicated.
Advocate for broad based partnerships that bring educational resources together with the other resources/conditions needed for healthy youth development – physical and
mental health care, stable housing, safe/non-violent communities, and workforce/internship experiences.
Teachers don’t leave high poverty urban districts; they are exiled, like many of their students. To be exiled means to be sent from your place of belonging. Teachers
and students belong in school, reaping the reciprocal joy of discovery, the emotional high of building competence and confidence, the pleasure of pushing each other to
the frontiers of their intelligence.
Teachers aspire to make a difference. Urban teachers are often systematically denied the stimulation, excitement and reward that comes from learning and teaching in a
sanction free, monitor free, and stress free environment. The result: they leave in disappointed, disillusioned droves. Some cast these educational exiles as burned
out, a term suggestive of personal failing. Instead, we believe they are burned by a system that has failed them – and their students. Every time an idealistic,
enthusiastic, caring teacher flees the system for self-preservation, the system has committed another crime of squandered potential. Sparse resources: With decades-old
policy and practices in place, educators struggle with effectively implementing research-based, 21st century learning. Teachers in high poverty schools leave the
profession because financial resources are dwindling as mandates and blame increase. Leaders have to be innovative, flexible, and implement a sustainable vision. We
know that schools have to do more with less, and this can be done through partnerships with businesses, successful schools, and educational institutions; grant
applications; and most importantly, creating a community of trust, respect and support.
Parental accountability: The old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child” goes a long way, especially in struggling schools. Research shows that schools with high
failure rates also have low parental involvement. Educators must find ways to account for parents’ varying schedules – many of whom may hold multiple jobs – and meet
with them to discuss their child’s progress and how the parent can get involved in the learning and planning process. Some examples may be sending newsletters home in
the parents’ native language or having parent-led multicultural events.
• 4. Adequate professional learning: In some schools and districts, professional learning has become a time for teachers to gather to hear announcements, grade papers,
or discuss disruptive scholars. Professional learning should be sacred time set aside where educators come together to share best practices and receive training that
is designed around adult-learning principles and differentiated to their needs where they receive ongoing follow-up
• . Support for teachers: The U.S. Department of Education reported that 40-60% of teachers don’t feel appreciated. Although school leaders are under pressure to
produce results, it’s their obligation to encourage, build capacity and include teachers in the decision-making process. Teachers want to feel supported, heard, and
provided with resources and training necessary to do the job. In failing schools, the blame is usually placed on teachers for not teaching enough, or not planning
lessons that are rigorous enough. School leaders must create ways to support teachers in and outside the school building through professional learning communities
where teachers are encouraged, involved, and most of all, empowered.
• in general teachers in high-poverty schools more often report having to work with outdated textbooks in short supply; outdated computers and other kinds of
technology; and inadequate or nonexistent science equipment, materials and labs. As well, the amount and variety of college-preparatory or advanced placement offerings
lag significantly behind schools serving more advantaged populations (Freel, 1998). Combined with deficient supplies, materials and opportunities to learn,
deteriorating physical plants, often another characteristic of high-poverty urban schools, can diminish student engagement