Administrative Issues Journal


John Poynton


From the early twentieth century to the present, citizen participation in U.S. public institutions—particularly schools—has continually decreased. The trend has been linked to the bureaucratization of public schools and their increasing reliance on expert knowledge for solutions to school- and education-related problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of a parent training program designed to increase a school district’s capacity for public participation by parents and other citizens. The program—known as Leadership St. Vrain—provided citizens knowledge about school district operations and management (know-how) and relationship-building opportunities with key decision makers (know-who). This article focuses on the experiences and participation of the citizens from a mixed-methods study that collected data using two original survey instruments, follow-up interviews, and archival documents. Of the five domains studied, this paper focuses on findings for the domains of knowledge, relationships, and action as well as the secondary ripple effect from participants to others who did not participate in the training.



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