POWER AND PARTICIPATION IN EDUCATIONAL REFORM

Paul Gallagher

Abstract


For educational reform to be successful in the 60's, it was critical that government should play the dominant leadership role. After years of responding to periodic pressures from special interest groups, observed the Parent Commissioners, governments must accept responsibility for establishing policies and priorities and for rebuilding, co-ordinating and managing in the public interest the entire educational system. At the same time, the Parent Commissioners urged leaders to govern in a style which would ensure for all Quebec citizens, through representative organizations, the opportunity to share in the policy-making processes and to be consulted in the management of their educational system.

These two thrusts - aggressive central leadership and participatory operation of a large and complex educational system - require a delicate balance. As a study of power and influence in an educational reform movement, this paper will examine the functional relationships between government and two of many important elements in the participatory apparatus - the school commissions (which traditionally served as the dominant forces in public education), and the Superior Council of Education (which was established by the Legislature to counterbalance excessive centralization and to encourage participation).

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