David Woods Elementary School takes into account the issues presented by the case study of James Clark. Action should be taken on multiple levels, including the structural, systemic, cultural, and power and influence dimensions. Because the problems facing the organization prove complex, many different approaches will work better than focusing on one of the images of organization as presented in Morgan (2006). Moreover, the development of an action plan for an organization resembles the intervention opportunities for communities as outlined in the CDC (n.d.) publication on addressing issues and problems related to at-risk youth. The problems addressed in the case study are structural, systemic, cultural, and power-oriented. From each of these perspectives, key leaders in the organization, the community, and all stakeholders can take action that resolve the problems and prevent related problems in the future.
To structurally address the problem, it is important to first assess the organizational structure of the public school system. As part of the assessment, the role of teachers will be taken into account as part of the change process. It can be extremely difficult to change organizational structures without possessing the vested power of a leader, which is why politicians and policy makers are critical change makers at this stage. The structure of the school is bureaucratic and hierarchical. As Morgan (2006) points out, organizations like these are “made to operate as precisely as possible through patterns of authority,” (p. 21). The patterns of authority in the David Woods Elementary School originate outside of the immediate and daily patterns of organizational structure. For example, teachers and even principles lack the official authority to dismantle and alter organizational structures. The structural actions to address the problem would require allies in politics and educational lobbying groups.
To systemically address the problem brought to light by the case study of James, leaders in education need to take into account the roles of various players in the educational process. Even members of the community who are not officially part of the organization would be considered as part of the system in which public education operates. As Richards-Gustafson (n.d.) notes, focusing on groups and building trust among stakeholders helps to create healthy organizational systems that prevent future problems. Role clarity and effective clarification of goals and missions also helps to ensure that all stakeholders in the system are on the same page philosophically. Therefore, the actions that can be taken to systemically address the problem include town hall meetings and collaborations with community groups, educational support services, and non-profit agencies that can help children like James and their families. Helping at-risk youth means examining the underlying community issues such as poverty from a systemic social perspective.
A cultural approach to addressing the problem would, like the structural approach, recognize the drawbacks and opportunities of the bureaucratic and hierarchical system. The organizational culture of the school can be made more supportive for teachers willing and interested in helping at-risk youth. However, the action plan should include the help of external change agents in professions that can most effectively address the needs of students like James and his family. Teachers cannot continue to feel overburdened by their workload beyond their pay scale. Instead of expecting teachers to serve outside of their roles, the school system needs to alter its approach to education by reassessing its organizational culture and role in the community. Developing training programs for new teaching staff, involving the community in change efforts, and providing ongoing assessments are some of the ways the organization can create change within a cultural point-of-view (CDC, n.d.). Morgan (2006) presents the image of organization as culture or social reality to show how collaboration and community-building can help address the problems raised by specific problems. Therefore, the organizational culture should respond to the needs of James and his fellow students from this perspective.
To relate power and influence issues to address the problems posed by James, a political systems approach as suggested by Morgan (2006) would be especially fruitful. The political model shows how power exists in elected educational officials in some jurisdictions and in appointed officials in others. Moreover, the political power vested in the authorities in the school can be assessed. Teachers can be empowered by altering their position and pay scale. Similarly, the ancillary roles filled by counselors and other positions in the school system can help students like James. Doing away with unnecessary and ineffective educational policies that were developed at the federal level by non-educators, school systems can dramatically respond to challenges such as those presented by the case study of James. Shared values and goals can unite all stakeholders in the school and the community that supports it.
A school is an organization that is uniquely constrained by cultural, systemic, structural, and political issues. The case study of James shows that the school does not operate in an isolated environment. On the contrary, a school is part of the larger community organism. The school operates on national, state, and local levels and responds to the laws and norms of each. Therefore, an action plan for David Woods Elementary is complex. The action plan will involve working with educational lobbying groups to change the laws at the federal level, and then changing educational policies at the state level too. Moreover, empowering teachers and releasing them from role ambiguity will help the organization address problems and prevent similar ones from arising in the future.
CDC (n.d.). Planning, implementing, and evaluating an intervention. Retrieved online: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/chapter1-a.pdf
Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Richards-Gustafson, F. (n.d.). Eight steps for organizational development interventions. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved online: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/eight-steps-organizational-development-interventions-14144.html
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