Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 Local elementary school advisory...
 Presentation of the field study...
 Discussion of the data
 Summary, conclusions, and...
 Reference notes
 Biographical sketch

Title: Local elementary school advisory committees
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099104/00001
 Material Information
Title: Local elementary school advisory committees theory and practice in selected elementary schools in Florida
Physical Description: x, 333 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Fedler, Mary C ( Mary Colette ), 1940-
Publication Date: 1980
Copyright Date: 1980
Subject: Citizens' advisory committees in education   ( lcsh )
Community and school -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Educational Administration and Supervision thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Administration and Supervision -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1980.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 324-331.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Mary C. Fedler.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099104
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000099953
oclc - 07240107
notis - AAL5413


This item has the following downloads:

PDF ( 11 MBs ) ( PDF )

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
    List of Tables
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Local elementary school advisory committees: The construct as described in the literature
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Presentation of the field study data
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
    Discussion of the data
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
    Summary, conclusions, and implications
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
    Reference notes
        Page 332
    Biographical sketch
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
Full Text






Copyright 1980


Mary C. Fedler


The writer would like to thank the members of her doctoral com-

mittee, Dr. Michael Nunnery, Dr. James Longstreth, and Dr. Joseph Shea,

for their useful suggestions about the study. Special thanks are ex-

tended to Dr. Nunnery, chairman of the committee, for providing a

realistic perspective for research planning, for sharing his broad

expertise, and for giving the encouragement and help needed to complete

the study.

Appreciation is also expressed to the members of the Committee for

Citizen Participation of the Florida Education Council for their in-

terest and assistance. The writer is particularly grateful to Dr.

Marshall Harris, director of the Florida Education Council, for finan-

cial support and technical assistance during the period of research.

In addition, thanks are due the principals and committee chairmen who

helped make arrangements to include their committees in the study.

Finally, the writer is grateful to Fred Fedler for his help in

editing and Adele Koehler for her expert preparation of the final copy.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . . . . .

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .

Background and Justification of the Study ....
The Problem . . . . . . . . . .
Definition of Terms . . . . . . . .
Procedures . . . . . . . . .
Organization of the Remainder of the Study . .


Introduction . . . . . . . . .
Structure and Legal Authority . . . . . .
Roles and Functions . . . . . . . .
Group Processes . . . . . .
Summary of the Characteristics of the Ideal
Local Elementary School Advisory Committee. ..


Introduction. . .
Structure and Legal
Roles and Functions
Group Processes .

Authority . .


Introduction . . .
Structure and Legal Authority
Roles and Functions . .
Group Processes . . . .


Summary . . . . . . .
Conclusions . . . . . .
Implications . . . . .





S. . . 131

. . . 131
. . . 135
. . . 166
. . . . 185

. . . 219

. . . 219
. . . 219
. . . 234
. . . 246

. . . 263

. . . . 263
. . . . 275
. . . . 277

I 1




QUESTIONNAIRE . . . . . . . . . . 283


REFERENCES . . . . . . . . ... . . . . 324

REFERENCE NOTES. . . . . . . ... . . . 332

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . . . . . . .. .. 333



Tabulation of LESAC Member Responses by Sex, Group,
and Position . . . . . . . . . . .

2. Comparison of Committee Member Responses,
to Indicators Related to Characteristic 1

3. Comparison of Committee Member Responses,
to Indicators Related to Characteristic 2

4. Comparison of
to Indicators

5. Comparison of
to Indicators

6. Comparison of
to Indicators

7. Comparison of
to Indicators

8. Comparison of
to Indicators

9. Comparison of
to Indicators

10. Comparison of
to Indicators

11. Comparison of
to Indicators

12. Comparison of
to Indicators

13. Comparison of
to Indicators

14. Comparison of
to Indicators



Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 3 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 4 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 5 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 6 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 7 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 8 .

Committee Member Responses, by
Related to Characteristic 9 .










Committee Member Responses, by Position,
Related to Characteristic 10 . . .

Committee Member Responses, by Position,
Related to Characteristic 11 . . .

Committee Member Responses, by Position,
Related to Characteristic 12 . . .

Committee Member Responses, by Position,
Related to Characteristic 13 . . .


















15. Comparison of Committee Member Responses, by Position,
to Indicators Related to Characteristic 14. . . . ... 203

16. Comparison of Committee Member Responses, by Position,
to Indicators Related to Characteristic 15. . . . ... 205

17. Comparison of Committee Member Responses, by Position,
to Indicators Related to Characteristic 16. . . . ... 215

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Mary C. Fedler

December 1980
Chairman: Michael Y. Nunnery
Major Department: Educational Administration and Supervision

There were two basic aims in the study. The first was to derive

from a review of the literature and state legislation a set of charac-

teristics and indicators which described the expected roles and func-

tions of local elementary school advisory committees in Florida. The

ideal local elementary school advisory committee was described by 16

characteristics and 65 related indicators. The indicators were observ-

able practices which helped determine the presence or absence of a

characteristic. The characteristics were grouped into three categories:

(1) structure and legal authority, (2) roles and functions, and (3)

group processes.

The second aim of the study was to determine the extent to which

these characteristics were descriptive of selected Florida elementary

school advisory committees. Included in the field study were 28

elementary school advisory committees drawn from 16 school districts.

The primary data source was a questionnaire completed by 261

committee members present at a regularly scheduled advisory com-

mittee meeting. The questionnaire items were related directly to

each of the derived indicators which reflected the characteristics.

Additional data sources included school district policies, guidelines,

and handbooks as well as observations made at committee meetings.

It was found that 8 of 16 characteristics of the ideal elementary

school advisory committee were considered to be practices in the com-

mittees studied by a majority of those who responded to the question-

naire. Five other characteristics were practices with regard to some,

but not all of their indicators. The respondents did not perceive that

three characteristics were practices of their committees.

In the area of structure and legal authority, the advisory commit-

tees studied were characterized by (a) organization of parent activities

through formal structures; (b) definition of authority and clarification

of responsibilities delegated to the advisory committee; (c) efficient

committee organization; (d) broad representation on the committee; (e)

substantial participation by the committee in decisions related to

school programs; (f) use of legal and policy information when making

recommendations; and (g) use of available procedures for gathering

and receiving information from within the school.

In the area of roles and functions, the advisory committees studied

were characterized by (a) some participation in helping to evaluate the

schools' educational effectiveness; (b) little involvement in decisions

about programs and objectives, student achievement, budget, and person-

nel; and (c) minimal responsibility for maintaining a two-way flow of

communication between the school and community.

In the area of group processes, the advisory committees studied

were characterized by (a) full access to resources at the school level

and limited access to resources at the district and state level, par-

ticularly in the areas of training and coordination; (b) frequent

cooperation with local educational agencies, more limited cooperation

with district agencies, and little cooperation with state agencies;

(c) partial recognition and support from the district school board and

superintendent; (d) much cooperation and assistance from the principal

except in the area of training; (e) considerable knowledge and use of

effective group processes; and (f) minimal use of evaluation procedures.

The results of the study provide a set of data for legislative

bodies, local policy makers, school administrators, and others concerned

with school advisory committees. The characteristics and indicators

and the extent to which they exist in practice constitute a base of

information which can be utilized for deciding what policies, guidelines,

and assistance are needed for continuing and expanding the role of

citizens in the educational decision-making process.



Background and Justification of the Study

Since the 1960's there has been substantial public interest in

community and parent involvement in the activities of the public schools

in the United States. However, lay participation in the public schools

is not a new phenomenon. Kimbrough and Nunnery (1976) pointed out that

"the public school enterprise of our nation has its origin in grass-

roots lay control" (p. 303). Historically, the citizens of a new com-

munity decided that a school was needed, hired the school teacher and

determined what was to be taught (Gordon & Breivogel, 1976, p. 8).

As communities and schools grew in size, responsibility for running

the schools was given to elected goards of education (Perry & Ridgley,

1979). Ziegler, Tucker, and Wilson (1976) observed that though these

early governing boards were highly responsive to a small constituency,

they also suffered from the bribery, patronage, and corruption charac-

teristic of the urban political machines of the early 20th century.

Consequently, they were a target for reformers who attempted to correct

the abuses of ward politics by removing education from the political

arena and turning it over to professional educators and experts.

School administration became centralized, wider responsibilities were

given to district superintendents, small districts were consolidated

into larger ones, board members were elected by nonpartisan ballots,

and board elections were separated from other municipal and state


While the reform movement dealt with the disadvantages of the

political patronage system, the process of centralization and con-

solidation also served to move the centers of power further away from

the average citizen. Mudrunka (1978) stated that as power passed into

the hands of the professional policy makers and administrators the

schools "became bureaucratic--much like their corporate counterparts--

and insulated from the desires and needs of the clientele they were

designed to serve" (p. 10).

The decade of the 1960's was characterized by an expectation of

innovation and change and by a belief, on the part of the public, in

the ability of the professional educators to accomplish it. Neverthe-

less, as Featherstone (1976) pointed out, a counter-movement arising

in part from the civil rights issues of the decade was also making it-

self felt. An awareness of the alienation and powerlessness of pre-

viously excluded and oppressed groups gave impetus to the push for

equality and human rights, which in turn, led to a reworking of the

idea of citizen participation in the decisions of governing institu-

tions (pp. 12-13).

Davies (1976) claimed that by 1970 the citizens of the United

States were disillusioned with the results of innovation and resented

having to pay the bill (p. 7). A crisis of confidence in the school

system's operation, products, and cost contributed to a growing con-

cern on the part of citizens' groups that school control had been

wrested from them and that they were unable to influence the distant

centers of school power.

The surge of interest in the 1970's for increasing lay participa-

tion in the activities of the public schools went beyond the school

boards charged with the legal responsibility for creating school policy.

Archer (1973) indicated that concerned citizens turned their attention

to developing new patterns of participation, such as councils or

committees, which "complement or supplement, but do not replace the

school board" (p. 23). Gordon and Breivogel (1976) described school ad-

visory committees or councils as partnerships between the school and

community which draw parents into decision making processes (p. 104).

The Select Joint Subcommittee on Public Schools of the Florida

Legislature (1978) stated two basic assumptions upon which the forma-

tion of school advisory committees rests:

1) In a democratic society such as ours, laws are
shaped to insure broad popular representation in
decision making and government; and 2) effective
citizen organizations are important means for citizens
to participate in government and share authority with
elected office holders and professional administra-
tors. (p. 216)

Kimbrough and Nunnery (1976) observed that "the concept of lay

control by means of boards at various levels, citizens' committees,

and legislative power is engrained in the thinking of most people"

(p. 303). Saxe (1975) viewed citizen participation as an end in itself

insofar as it was a part of democratic ideology. He stated that par-

ticipation gave legitimacy to the schools and made new resources avail-

able to them (p. 230). Reporting on the status of school committees

in the 1970's, Davies (1977) developed the idea that citizen involve-

ment at the local level brought people closer to the ideal of self-

government. He suggested that

effective democratic participation in the operation
of even as ordinary a public institution as the
public school, is crucial in the democratizing of
society as a whole. (p. 11)

Legislators and educators have looked to advisory committees as

a countervailing force against a tide of hostility and alienation on

the part of the public toward educational institutions. Longstreth

(1978) suggested that

involving the clientele of the school system in the
educational decision making processes has frequently
been recommended as a practice which would generate
positive attitudes toward schools by the public.
(p. 125)

The demands of citizens that public institutions become more res-

ponsive to the needs of the real world has prompted national, state,

and local interest in the school advisory committee as a viable structure

for combating apathy, alienation, and mistrust. Patterns for the func-

tioning of many parent participation groups established in the late

1960's and early 1970's were developed from the guidelines for various

federally funded programs such as Title I, Head Start, and Follow Through

(Gordon & Breivogel, 1976, p. 118). The report of the Select Joint Sub-

committee on Public Schools of the Florida Legislature (1978) noted

that nearly all the school related bills and regulations enacted by the

federal government in the 1970's included mandates for citizen advisory

committees. Eight United States Office of Education programs initiated

during this period of time required a continuing advisory committee at

the local level. The requirements of the federal programs were for

district-wide committees, except for Title I which required both

individual school building and district groups (pp. 218-219).

Broad interest in school advisory committees was further ad-

vanced by the work of two national citizens' groups dedicated to

bringing parents and citizens more actively into the affairs of public

schools. The National Committee for Citizens in Education (NCCE) pub-

lished books and a newspaper, operated a telephone hot-line, conducted

workshops for parents and citizens, and worked with a Parents' Network

made up of parent/citizen groups throughout the country. Marburger

(1978) stated that the work of the NCCE was based upon the belief


publicly financed institutions should be held
accountable to the public, not only for the moneys
they spend, but for their programs. Until now
I there has been neither as much public par-
ticipation nor as much public accountability in the
schools as is desirable. For too long, school
decisions have been made primarily by professionals,
and usually in private, removed from public view.
(p. 4)

A second group, the Institute for Responsive Education (IRE),

working with the Education Commission .of the States, contributed to

the development of advisory committees through its continuing research

on the work of advisory councils in selected communities. By examining

successfully functioning committees, IRE researchers sought to uncover

effective patterns of citizen involvement, to determine what kind of

impact is possible, and to discover effective strategies for change

(Davies, 1977, p. 1).

Initiatives to increase citizen participation were also taken by

legislatures at the state level. The Select Joint Subcommittee of

the Florida Legislature (1978) reported that since 1970, 17 states had

enacted some type of legislation related to public participation in

education (p. 223). California received national attention for enacting

legislation in 1973 which promoted community participation in school

planning. Rosaler (Note 1) reported that the California State Board of

Education required the establishment of a school advisory committee

in every school that entered the Early Childhood Education program.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 65 in 1977, school advisory committees

in California were given more responsibility than any other state

mandated councils up to that date (pp. 1, 35).

Similar legislation was included in Florida's Educational Account-

ability Act of 1973 and 1976 (F.S. 229.58). The enactment required

district school boards to establish advisory committees for each local

school in the district consisting of teachers, students, parents, and

other citizens. If the school board did not establish advisory com-

mittees for each school, it was required to establish a district

advisory committee broadly representative of the district and also

composed of teachers, parents, students, and dther citizens. The

school board was given considerable latitude in regulating the functions

of advisory committees except that the legislature specifically stated

that committees were to assist in preparing the annual report of school

progress and were to work with the principal in preparing the school's

budget and educational plan.

Though the Florida Legislature mandated school advisory committees,

little progress was made in implementing them in the years following

the 1973 legislation because of three basic problems: 1) district

school boards were not given a clear statement and general understanding

of the legislative intent; 2) no guidelines were given for developing

support systems necessary for implementing the committees; and 3) no

funding for costs of implementation was provided (Select Joint Sub-

committee, 1978, p. 237).

In assessing the status of school advisory committees in Florida

in 1978, the consultant team commissioned by the Select Joint Committee

on Public Schools of the Florida Legislature (1978) made a series of

recommendations among which the following were implemented by the

legislature: 1) the establishment of a state citizens' advisory com-

mittee on education which includes in its responsibilities the encourage-

ment and monitoring of citizen advisory committees at the district

and school levels; 2) the authorization and funding of small (from

$500 to $5,000) committee improvement grants to local advisory committees

or to independent citizen organizations or other non-profit groups

proposing to provide training and other forms of assistance to local

advisory committees; and 3) the request that the state citizens' ad-

visory committee develop over the next two to three years a coherent

and consistent policy for citizen participation in educational decision

making along with proposals for implementation of such a policy (pp.


In addition to the study commissioned by the Select Joint Committee

(1978) a number of other studies related to various types of school

advisory committees in the state of Florida were conducted after 1973.

Chinn (1975) and Mills (1975) reported differences in the perceptions

of administrators and advisory committee members as to the role, func-

tions, and effectiveness of school advisory committees from selected

school districts. Dromisky (1974) found that parents whose children

attended school where parents were involved in decisions about cur-

riculum had more favorable attitudes toward the school than did

parents whose children attended a school where parents were not in-

volved in decision making. In a study related to the purposes and

activities of community school advisory councils in Florida, Corbett

(1975) found agreement among respondents that the purposes as stated

were viable, but found disagreement among the respondents regarding the

extent to which the purposes were actually being pursued by advisory

committees. Simpson (1977) found that citizens' advisory committees

were operating effectively at each school in four Florida school dis-

tricts with a strong commitment to the system of school-based management.

Although the studies mentioned here have contributed a part to the

growing body of knowledge about the way in which school boards imple-

mented the 1973 legislative mandate that advisory committees be estab-

lished and function in Florida school districts, none of the studies

presented a specific set of characteristics to describe local elementary

school advisory committees and a set of observable indicators to measure

the extent to which committees were meeting the expectations set by

the authorities. In a state like Florida, which passed legislation

mandating school advisory committees and which appropriated money for

improving them, it could legitimately be asked whether school advisory

committees exist in practice in the manner defined by the authorities.

Specifically, it was believed that a study was needed which would

provide a coherent set of characteristics to describe the construct of

a citizens' advisory committee for the local school. By a process of

logical inference a set of observable indicators needed to be derived

from the characteristics in order to determine the extent to which a

sample of local school advisory committees in the state of Florida

possessed the characteristics. It was thought that results of such

a study would provide a set of data for legislative bodies, policy

makers, school administrators, and other people concerned with school

advisory committees. The characteristics and indicators would consti-

tute a base of information they could utilize for setting the policies

and guidelines for continuing and expanding the role of citizens in

the processes of educational decision making. Consequently, given the

lack of a coherent picture of the characteristics of local school

advisory committees and a lack of knowledge about how existing com-

mittees met the expectations defined by the authorities, the study

described herein was undertaken.

The Problem

Statement of the Problem

The problem in this study was twofold: first, based on a review

of related literature and Florida legislative action, to derive a set

of characteristics and associated indicators which described the ex-

pected functions and roles of local elementary school advisory committees

in the State of Florida; and second, to determine the extent to which

selected elementary school advisory committees possessed the derived



The study was affected by the following constraints:

1. The study was confined to elementary schools because of the

diversity of needs and programs in elementary schools, high schools,

vocational schools, community schools, and federal programs. It did not

seem possible to construct one set of characteristics which would

accurately describe all advisory committees serving in such diverse


2. The review of literature and authoritative opinion, from which

the characteristics and indicators were derived, was confined to Florida

legislative enactments, Florida legislative committee reports, Florida

State Board of Education policies, guidelines developed by Florida school

districts, relevant research projects or studies conducted by local,

state, and national groups concerned with school advisory committees,

and publications related to citizen and parent involvement groups.

3. The characteristics which described the construct of the local

elementary school advisory committee were focused on the structure and

legal authority, roles and functions, and group processes.

4. The field study was limited to 28 functioning elementary school

advisory committees, which met specified criteria, located in 16 school

districts in the State of Florida. The sample was considered to be

representative of the population of elementary schools in the state of

Florida which had functioning advisory committees during the 1979-80

school year. Given the identified population of functioning committees

the sample included a large cross section of that population. However,

the cross section did not include all geographic areas in the state.

For instance, state and district school officials could not identify

any schools in the Florida Panhandle as having functioning advisory

committees which could meet the criteria established for participation

in the field study. The advisory committees studied were primarily

located on the Atlantic coast and in central Florida. Two districts

were located on the Gulf coast. Schools were drawn from large, small,

and intermediate sized districts.


5. The data collected in the field study were confined to the

responses of 261 members of the selected advisory committees on a

questionnaire developed from the derived indicators by the researcher.


The study suffered from limitations in both the derivation of char-

acteristics describing the construct from the review of the literature,

and in the field testing of the indicators. Two problems were associated

with drawing up a set of indicators for advisory committees. First, the

characteristics were derived from authoritative opinion and are not sub-

stantiated by research. Consequently, the validity of the related

indicators could not be verified empirically. Second, no single set of

characteristics could describe a workable advisory committee for all of

the diverse settings in local elementary schools in the State of Florida.

The field test was also subject to several limitations. The

schools which participated in the study did not constitute a random

sample of schools in the State of Florida. Consequently, no claim

for broad external validity could be made.

Finally, the instrument used for collecting data in the field study

was a questionnaire based on the indicators of the derived character-

istics. The questionnaire was not in itself an accurate measure of the

actual extent to which advisory committees met the set of expectations

advocated by the authorities, but was dependent upon the degree of

accuracy with which the respondents perceived their situation and

reported it using the instrument.

Definition of Terms

Administrator. A person designated by the policy making body of

the school district to carry out management functions.

Activities. The means and processes through which school advisory

committees accomplish their purposes.

Budget. The translation of the desired educational program into

fiscal terms (Kimbrough & Nunnery, 1976, p. 172).

Central office. The group of personnel who have responsibility for

managing and coordinating the activities of the school district as a whole.

Characteristic. A general statement about a particular aspect of

the phenomenon under consideration, i.e. a characteristic of advisory

committees is "an advisory committee is representative of citizen and

community groups residing within the school attendance zone."

Citizens. Parents and other adult residents of a community, who

have a legitimate interest in the social and political institutions

which serve the area.

Concept. "An abstraction formed by generalizations from par-

ticulars" (Kerlinger, 1973, p. 28).

Construct. "A concept . deliberately and consciously invented

or adopted for a special scientific purpose" (Kerlinger, 1973, p. 29).

Curriculum. The plan for providing the learning programs and

opportunities related to the broad educational goals of the local

elementary school.

Elementary school. Any public elementary school housing grades

K-6, or any combination of those grades except when the combination

includes grades beyond the sixth.

Functions. The special purposes, offices, or duties of local

advisory committees.

Indicator. A practice which is an observable manifestation of

a characteristic.

Local elementary school advisory committee (LESAC). A mandated,

formal structure for involving the clientele of a local elementary

school in the educational decision-making processes of the school.

The geographic scope of the committee is the school attendance area.

Parents. All adults in a given attendance area who have children

or wards in the school.

Participation. Taking part in activities in order to exercise power

or influence--to have an impact on decision making in policy matters.

Personnel. The paid administrative, instructional, and support

staff working in the elementary school.

Purpose. The reasons for being, of the local advisory committee.

Synonymous with functions.

Roles. The part of educational decision making, influence, or

power assumed by the local advisory committee.

School advisory committee (SAC). A mandated, formal structure for

involving the clinetele of a local school in the educational decision

making process of the school.

School principal. The administrators directly responsible for the

day to day management of the local elementary school (e.g., principal

and assistant principal).

Staff. All of the individuals engaged in instructing or providing

support services in the local elementary school.


In order to carry out an investigation of the extent to which local

elementary school advisory committees in Florida actually possessed in

practice, the characteristics derived from the authoritative literature,

it was necessary to, first, review the literature and develop a set of

characteristics with associated indicators, and second, to undertake a

field study, the purpose of which was to determine the extent to which

the characteristics defined by the authorities were present in func-

tioning committees. The procedures for carrying out the two parts of

the study are described in the following sections.

Derivation of the Characteristics of Local Elementary School
Advisory Committees

A set of characteristics related to the structure and legal author-

ity, roles and functions, and group processes of local elementary school

advisory committees was derived from the following sources: Florida

statutes; Florida legislative committee reports; Florida State Board

of Education policies; guidelines developed by Florida school districts;

relevant research projects or studies conducted by local, state, and

national groups concerned with school advisory committees; and publica-

tions related to citizen and parent involvement groups. The character-

istics were derived from the literature by a process of logical analysis.

The process can be illustrated by the following example of a derived


The local school advisory committee has access to
resources at the school, district, and state level
for the improvement of its processes and functions.

The Select Joint Committee's (1978) report provided support for this

characteristic by stating that the "absence of adequate information,

training, and other support services to enable citizens to carry out

their responsibilities" (p. 285) constituted a serious problem of im-

plementation of school advisory committees. Davies, Stanton, Clasby,

Zerchykov, and Power (1977) provided evidence that granting supports

and resources to councils enhanced their ability to function effec-

tively (p. 47).

A set of indicators for each of the characteristics was also

derived from the literature by a process of logical analysis. The

indicators are observable practices or activities which would help

determine the relative presence or absence of the characteristic in

practice. An example of an indicator for the characteristic derived

above is

Advisory committee members receive training to
develop leadership skills and effective group

Support for the indicator was derived from Longstreth's (1978)

observation that most citizens serving on advisory committees need

in-service training in the areas of communication, conflict manage-

ment, and program evaluation if their work on the committee is to

be truly effective (p. 139). Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov,

and Powers (1977) also reported that community representation and

participation is improved by the introduction of lay leadership

training sessions for members of local advisory committees (pp.


Conduct of the Field Study

Selection of sample school advisory committees

A sample of 28 local elementary school advisory committees was

drawn from a list of 53 advisory committees in the State of Florida

considered to be functioning during the 1979-80 school year. The

following criteria were used to identify functioning committees:

1. The district in which the school was located was identified in

the 1978 report of the Select Joint Committee on Public Schools of the

Florida Legislature (pp. 249-250) as a district which had mandated

advisory committees at the building level.

2. The committee was identified by state or district school

officials as being active.

3. An examination of the annual report of school progress showed

that the committee had been involved in its preparation.

4. The committee had three or more scheduled meetings for the

1979-80 school year.

5. The committee had engaged in at least one other activity than

fund raising.

6. The committee was serving an elementary school.

All the committees initially identified met at least five out of

six criteria. The fourth, fifth, and sixth criteria were essential for

any of the 53 committees to be listed.

The 53 committees were organized and arranged alphabetically by

district. With one exception, not more than two schools were selected

from each district. A meeting in one school was attended by one

member; therefore a third school was selected from that district.

Where only one or two schools were identified in a district, all the

schools listed were selected. Where more than two schools were listed

the first and the third school on the list were selected.

A letter was sent to principals in 36 schools inviting them to

participate in the field study and to return the name of the advisory

committee chairman. The letter was followed up by telephone calls. Of

the 36 schools contacted, 28 agreed to participate. Three schools re-

ported no committees. Three committees had met only infrequently and

did not plan to schedule another meeting. Two committees refused to

participate. Background data on the committees studied are presented

in Appendix A.

From the initial list of 53 schools a pilot school was selected for

testing and refining the questionnaire to be used in collecting data.

Data collected from the pilot study indicated confusion among the

respondents over the wording in the directions as well as in several

of the items on the questionnaire. The recommendations of respondents

were used to make appropriate changes in the questionnaire. The pilot

school was not in the final sample of schools included in the study.

Instrumentation and data collection

The primary means of data collection was a written questionnaire

(see Appendix B), the items for which were directly related to each of

the derived indicators measuring the characteristics of local elementary

school advisory committees. Questionnaires were completed by all com-

mittee members during the course of a regularly scheduled advisory

committee meeting. The chairman of each committee was contacted in

advance and asked to schedule agenda time for distributing and completing

questionnaires. The 261 members completing questionnaires included the

committee chairman, the school principal and assistant principal,

teachers and support staff, students, parents, and other citizens who

were present at the meeting as members. The researcher attended advisory

committee meetings in 27 of the 28 schools contacted to assure consis-

tency in the way questionnaires were completed. In the case of the

postponed meeting the researcher met in advance with the advisory chair-

man to review procedures for distributing and returning the completed


In addition, school district policies, guidelines, and handbooks

about advisory committees were examined to corroborate data obtained

from the questionnaire. Finally, observations were made at each com-

mittee meeting about the kinds of items on the agenda, the method of

conducting business, the kinds of roles committee members played, and

the major accomplishments of the committee.

Treatment of the data

The data collected in the field study were compared by the process

of logical analysis and inspection to the indicators of the charac-

teristics, derived from the literature, to determine the extent to which

the committees studied possessed the defined characteristics. Inspec-

tion was made among the different groups which committee members repre-

sented (e.g., teachers, staff, parents, citizens, students, and

principals). Total responses of all members from all groups were

examined to determine the extent to which the indicator of a charac-

teristic was present in the sample of 28 functioning committees. In

addition to representing a group, each committee member also had a

position or role on the committee (e.g., chairman, principal, and commit-

tee member). Since access to information and amount of involvement might

vary depending on a member's position, committee members with different

positions might have had different perceptions about the presence or

absence of an indicator in a given situation. Therefore the responses

of members in different positions were compared. A Chi-square was

calculated for each indicator to determine whether there were signifi-

cant differences among the responses of principals, committee chairmen,

and committee members. Significant differences in the responses some-

times affected a decision about whether an indicator for a character-

istic was present or absent. Finally, the indicators of each

characteristic were considered collectively to determine the extent

to which the characteristic was present or absent in the sample of

committees studied.

Organization of the Remainder of the Study

Chapter II provides a description of the characteristics of the

local elementary school advisory committee as derived from the litera-

ture. Chapter III presents the data collected in the field study. A

discussion and interpretation of the data are given in Chapter IV.

Chapter V contains the summary and conclusions of the study.




From the review of literature related to citizen participation in

the public schools a set of characteristics was derived which re-

searchers, writers, and policy makers considered to be important to the

effective functioning of a building level advisory committee. The

characteristics form a general description of a local school advisory

committee as mandated by the Florida legislature in 1973. The measur-

able indicators for each of the characteristics relate specifically to

the functioning of a local elementary school advisory committee. For

purposes of presentation the characteristics and associated indicators

are grouped into three categories: structure and legal authority, roles

and functions, and group processes. Within each of the categories the

appropriate characteristics and associated indicators are described and

supported by authoritative opinion, conclusions of studies, or policy

statements. Although the focus is on the characteristics of local

elementary school advisory committees, some of the characteristics are

also common to committees serving high schools, community schools,

federal title programs, or school districts. Where characteristics or

indicators are common to several kinds of advisory groups, literature

related to those groups was used as appropriate.

Structure and Legal Authority

The structure of the school advisory committee and the legal

authority granted it are closely related to the committee's purposes.

Weinstein and Mitchell (1975) stated that if an advisory committee is

to be more than a public relations or crisis oriented group it must

have a purpose which is on-going and a formal structure (p. 70).

The purposes and structure of school advisory committees are in-

fluenced by two major issues: 1) acceptance of the right of parents to

participate in decisions affecting the education of their children and

2) the nature and extent of that participation. Fantini (1975) pointed

out that

legally, teachers have rights "in loco parentss"
Therefore, participation of the parent is a right
and not a privilege. The parent has a right to
participate in ways that ensure that the school is
indeed serving the best interests of the individual
child. (p. 15)

Parent participation has been classified variously by a number of

authors. Pomfret (1972) placed parental involvement into three cate-

gories: service, student instruction, and decision making. Gordon and

Breivogel (1976) listed five levels of parental involvement: 1) audience,

bystander, observer; 2) teacher of the child; 3) volunteer; 4) trained

worker; and 5) participant in decision making, especially through

advisory board membership (pp. 6-9).

According to Dobson and Dobson (1975) the underlying assumption of

parent involvement at the advisory level is that all persons affected

by a school decision have a right and responsibility to participate in

the decision making process (p. 16). The extent and nature of that

participation has been a matter of controversy and ranges along a

continuum from community participation to community control (Ornstein,

1973a). Gittell (1977) argued that

democracy requires that citizens be engaged in the
policy process directly, not through representatives
and not only as voters. Attitudinal studies of
political effectiveness suggest that, when people
feel they can control what goes on, they are more
apt to participate. (p. 8)
However, Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) indi-

cated that "there are no more than a handful of [advisory] councils in

the country which have the authority to make a final decision or see

that a final decisionmaker follows its directives" (p. 38).

While few plans for community control have been adopted or imple-

mented (Gittell, 1977), a number of states and school districts have

adopted plans for decentralization of the school system. Brownell (1971)

maintained that one of the effects of decentralization has been to pro-

mote "greater citizen participation in determining policies for indi-

vidual schools" (p. 288). Kindred and Allen (1954) stated that wholesome

programs of school-community cooperation require enactment of general

school policies "which are necessary to enable the individual school

to have the degree of autonomy required for developing cooperative

projects" (p. 111).

In 1973, the Florida state legislature initiated plans for school

district decentralization by mandating that

each district school board shall utilize its system
of planning and budgeting to emphasize a system of
school-based management in which individual school
centers become the principal planning units and
eventually to integrate planning and budgeting at
the school level. (F.S. 229.555[1][b])

Part of the legislative intent for decentralizing Florida schools

was to allow greater citizen participation in the planning and budgeting

process at the individual school level. The local school advisory

committee was identified as the type of organization capable of most

effectively increasing public involvement (Select Joint Committee, 1978,

p. 251).

The nature and extent of citizen participation in the schools is

affected by the way committees are organized and by the kind of authority

they are given to pursue their goals. The first four characteristics

derived from a review of the literature describe advisory committee

authority and structure. The next three characteristics further clarify

the question of committee authority by describing the decision making

process. In the sections that follow, each of the characteristics is

described along with indicators which measure the presence of a charac-

teristic in a given situation.

Citizen and Parent Activities Are Organized Through
Formal Structures

Conway, Jennings, and Milstein (1974) observed that school adminis-

trators face problems when school organizations do not include struc-

tures for monitoring community opinion or handling conflict (p. 8). The

school system needs to provide procedures for allowing the community to

give as well as receive information from the school (Dobson & Dobson,

1975). Price (1977) listed several conditions which promote community

participation in planning, advising, and decision making in the schools.

Two of these conditions which relate specifically to the first charac-

teristic are "1) the formal adoption of enabling policies and pro-

cedures, and 2) an organizational structure permitting involvement"

(p. 1).

Structures for citizen participation require controls if they are not

to work at cross purposes with other groups responsible for the education-

al process. Cleary (1972) believed that a democratic society required

a decision making process which allows and en-
courages participation at the same time it imposes
limits on that participation. (p. 615)

Several writers have described the school advisory council as a

permanent, legally recognized structure for promoting orderly and con-

tinuing citizen participation (Burges, 1977; Davies, 1977; Greenwood,

Breivogel, and Jester, 1977; Mudrunka, 1978). Legal recognition adds a

feature of permanence to committees providing citizens with more than a

one time or one issue opportunity for involvement (James, 1975). Davies,

Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) and Greenwood, Breivogel,

and Jester (1977) listed at least four states which had passed laws

establishing school advisory committees, thus giving legal recognition

to the advisory committee structure.

Two indicators can be derived from the literature which show

whether the first characteristic is present in a given situation. The

first indicator is that the district school board takes formal action to

establish local school building advisory committees in accordance with

state law.

Nyquist (1977) stated that

just as the state delegates educational responsi-
bility to local boards, according to State law and
regulations, school boards should consider estab-
lishment of policies for the delegation of authority
essential to enhance decision making in specified
matters relative to the operation of a school build-
ing and the conduct of programs fashioned to carry
out districtwide objectives and goals. (p. 2)

Further support for the characteristic is found in documents related

to Florida law which mandated school advisory committees in each district.

The 1973 report of The Governor's Citizens' Committee on Education

recommended that "to improve citizen participation in the functioning

of the individual school there should be a School Advisory Council

(SAC)" (p. 11).

The Florida legislature enacted the recommendation of The Governor's

Citizens' Committee into law in 1973. The law stated that

the district school board may establish an advisory
committee broadly representative of the community
served by the school for each school in the district
and composed of teachers, students, parents, and
other citizens. If the school board does not estab-
lish advisory committees for each school, it shall
establish a district advisory committee. (F.S.

A report by the staff of the Florida Senate Education Committee

further outlined the 1973 legislation and explained that

it was also given to the school boards the preroga-
tive to develop a plan for establishing each
committee provided that such plan guaranteed that
parents and students be members, and that it be
broadly representative of the community served by
the school. (Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 236)

In an assessment of the effects of the 1973 legislation, the report

of the Select Joint Committee on Public Schools of the Florida Legisla-

ture (1978) stated that the intention of the recommendations made by

the Governor's Citizens' Committee (1973) was to foster efforts to

"reduce public alienation and to increase educational responsiveness

by restructuring decision making" (p. 284). The Select Joint Committee

(1978) strongly emphasized that

the establishment of school advisory committees,
as outlined in the 1973 report of The Governor's
Citizens' Committee on Education, is both a
logical and necessary component of any effort to
establish the local school as the unit of
accountability. (pp. 283-284)


Although authority for establishing local school advisory commit-

tees is derived from district school board policy, the actual existence

of a group at the individual school is most often dependent upon the

personal discretion of the principal (Stanwick, 1975).

Consequently, the second indicator of whether citizen and parent

activities are organized through formal structures is that the school

principal organizes a citizens' advisory committee to serve the elemen-

tary school building. The Florida legislation which required that

school advisory committees be established was tied to a second require-

ment that district school boards emphasize a system of decentralization

or school based management in which individual school centers become

the principal planning units (F.S. 229.55[l][b]). Brownell (1971) sug-

gested that in decentralized districts each school would have a school

council. Marburger (1978) stated that

the reasons for doing this should be clear. The
most important contact between school personnel
and families takes place not at the district
level but at the school site. Parents and stu-
dents are more interested in their particular
school than in the district, and consequently
they are more likely to become involved at the
school site. (p. 34)

Burges (1977) urged active citizens to direct their efforts to the

single-school level whenever possible. He believed that parents would

have more leverage with the school principal than with other administra-

tors higher up in the bureaucarcy. However, for the principal to work

effectively with citizen groups he or she must be given explicit authority

and resources to do so (Nyquist, 1977).

Authority Delegated to the Advisory Committee Is Defined and the
Roles, Responsibilities, and Duties Are Clearly Specified

If the school advisory committee is to operate effectively its

responsibility and functions must be clearly defined. A study conducted

by the Jacksonville, Florida, Community Council (1979) added that the

definition of responsibility should reflect the importance of citizen

participation. The necessity of clearly specified functions was rein-

forced by Davies, Clasby, and Powers (1977). They stated that "even a

narrowly defined but clear area of authority is preferable to vague

responsibilities" (p. 21). Kindred and Allen (1954, p. 111) observed

that clear policy statements made by the school board provide assurance

to principals and encourage them to take initiative in cooperative

school-community activities.

McKenzie (1974) believed that decision making and/or advisory func-

tions are the most critical issues in establishing active advisory

councils. If councils are to participate effectively at the building

level, authority must be decentralized (Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zer-

chykov, & Powers, 1977, pp. 34-40). However, Davies (1976) also stated

that workable decentralization requires development of a sensible plan

of checks and balances. The plan should deal with the roles and

responsibilities of persons, groups, and departments at all levels.

According to Olivero (1977), councils which operate effectively

have gained answers to the following questions:

1) What are the issues reserved for the Board of
Education and/or the Superintendent?
2) What are the issues in which the advisory
committee is expected to give input (advice),
issues that are ultimately decided by someone

else, e.g., principal, superintendent, board of
3) What are the issues in which the advisory
committee is expected to make the final decision?
(p. 4)

It it important that councils understand the difference between

the advisory function and the decision making function (Olivero, 1977).

Advisory committees, as the name implies, offer recommendations. They

have neither administrative nor policy-making authority. Miller (1975)

suggested that one of the committee's major purposes should be to study

particular topics and make recommendations to the administration.

Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) studied model

councils in four cities. They found that in Flint, Michigan, school

board policy for councils stated that councils can and should play an

important advisory role in school programs, policies, activities, and

functions. In Los Angeles, board policy defined advising to mean:

1) inquiring, 2) informing, 3) suggesting, 4) recommending, and 5) evalu-

ating. Board guidelines in Portland, Oregon, allowed councils to make

recommendations and establish policy at the building level when those

policies were not in conflict with district policies or other laws

governing school operation. The Anaheim, California, district policy

confined the activity and discussion of councils to compilation of data,

analysis of problems, summarization of opinions, and the drawing of

conclusions (p. 27).

Advisory committees allow widely representative participation in

a broad sphere of action (Clasby, Webster, & White, 1973, pp. 137-145).

This was particularly true in Florida where the law did not tie the

advisory council to any one educational program but cut "across all

aspects of local school policy except for powers legally vested in the

school board" (James, 1975, p. 13).

If it is important for advisory committee roles, responsibilities,

and duties to be specified then the first indicator of the characteristic

would be that authority delegated to the advisory committee is defined

by the district school board.

The Florida law stated that

each advisory committee shall perform such func-
tions as are prescribed by regulations of the
district school board; however, no advisory com-
mittee shall have any of the powers and duties
now reserved by law to the district school board.
(F.S. 229.58[2])

Nolte (1976) stated that a school board cannot abrogate or delegate

its responsibility to decide. However, many schools in decentralized

districts have active advisory councils while school officials retain

final decision making functions (Fantini, 1975). Ryan (1976) suggested

that in school governance, power can be shared while legal responsi-

bility remains fixed (pp. 22-25). When school boards decide to dele-

gate power or authority to advisory groups, the limits on that authority

must be specified in advance or alienation and disillusionment result

(Barth, 1978).

The Florida statute which mandated school advisory committees also

shifted the planning and operating responsibility to the local level

(Select Joint Committee, p. 258). School advisory committees were given,

by law (F.S. 229.58[2]), the responsibility to assist the principal in

the preparation of the annual report of school progress. However, the

1978 report of the Select Joint Committee on Public Schools of the Florida

Legislature stated that generally local school board policies and

guidelines do not authorize the kind of committee functions which com-

plement committee responsibility to help prepare the annual report

of school progress (p. 264). If committees are to be effective,

district policy must define functions which enable them to

function as an advisory group to the principal and
in general work with him on the development of
budget, program, personnel policy, and to improve
the quality of education. (Governor's Citizens'
Committee, 1973, p. 11)

Committee structure and functions are determined by the kind of

authority delegated to the committee by district school board policy.

The bylaws of the committee are written to provide order and consistency

to committee activities. The second indicator is a corollary of the

first and is that the district school board establishes a set of guide-

lines for committee bylaws and roles.

The Association of California School Administrators, in keeping

with that state's legislation requiring school advisory councils (A.B.

65), took the following position:

We believe guidelines for such groups should be
established by the local boards of education and
that these guidelines should maintain the ad-
visory nature of that input. (Olivero, 1977,
p. ii)

Mills (1975), in evaluating the effectiveness of advisory committees

in Florida school districts, recommended that

members should assist in establishing operating
guidelines, but time should not be wasted by
committee members in a long and tedious process
of developing rules for committee operation.
The school board and superintendent should give
to the advisory committee a detailed charge of
duties and responsibilities. (pp. 95-96)

The third indicator of the characteristic is that specific functions

and responsibilities of the local elementary school advisory committee

(LESAC) are set cooperatively by the committee and principal in accor-

dance with school needs and goals. Support for the indicator is found

in studies of school-community councils in Flint, Michigan, where each

council determined its own priorities for dealing with school and/or

community matters while still operating within the guidelines established

by the Flint Board of Education (McMillan, 1974). Mayher (1976) pro-

posed that an advisory council

can appropriately develop its own agenda and
meeting schedule following the general statement
of purpose and with suggestions of the princi-
pal. (p. 15)

Specific functions and ways of working together should be decided

through collaborative planning that involves the committee from the very

beginning (Davies, 1976). In a study of factors related to successful

relationships between principals and school advisory committees Archer

(1973) reported that plans and strategies developed mutually by the

principal and the committee were regarded more positively and considered

by principals to be more successful than those plans determined by the

principal alone.

Three problems sometimes keep advisory committees from effectively

identifying their responsibilities. First, there may be several dif-

ferent parent groups within the school, each with a different member-

ship and authority (Davies, Clasby, & Powers, 1977). Second, the groups

may have overlapping functions or conflicting guidelines. Often the

same people are members of several groups (Rosaler, Note 1). Third,

rivalry can exist between school advisory committees and other groups

such as the PTA (Winecoff, 1977).

Competition and duplication of effort tend to fragment advisory

committees. Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977)

stressed that "care must be given to enable councils and groups to

integrate or coordinate their activities" (p. 64). Therefore the fourth

indicator of the characteristic is that the functions of the LESAC are

coordinated with the functions of other organizations in the school.

Where two organizations overlap or duplicate functions, the two organi-

zations are combined.

Recent studies by Arnold (1976) and Chinn (1975) have resulted in

recommendations that school advisory groups and other parent groups have

different functions but work cooperatively to achieve school goals.

Davies (1976) suggested that

existing parent groups (for example, Title I parent
advisory committees and PTAs) should play a role
in developing plans for a council to assure that
the new organization and existing groups work in a
coordinated and complementary way or are amalgamated
into a single organization. (p. 27)

Conclusions of a 1979 study of advisory committees done by the

Jacksonville Community Council indicated that while there may be duplica-

tion in membership among school organizations, "there would be no dupli-

cation of functions if the LSACs [local school advisory committees] were

utilized to advise in decision-making" (p. 10). The School Advisory

Committee Handbook, developed by the School Board of Pinellas County,

Florida (1979), charted separate functions for LESACs and parent-teacher

associations (PTAs) and indicated which functions would have to be

assumed by one group or the other if a school had only one group.

Falkson and Grainer (1972) in a study of neighborhood school

politics concluded that

PTAs generate manageable forms of citizen partici-
pation entirely consonant with the goals and objec-
tives of school bureaucracy; no challenges to
authority occur. CAC [citizens' advisory committee]
organization, while still solidly within the frame-
work of the established administrative process,
does provide some potential for the emergence of
a grass-roots oppositional politics. (p. 48)

In other words, Falkson and Grainer (1972) indicated that PTAs,

while having a democratic structure, are organized primarily for the

purposes of service and communication. The authors reported that the

PTAs studied attempted little that could be called innovative or that

could bring about substantive educational change. On the other hand,

the authors suggested that advisory committees were capable of pro-

viding citizens "with a useful wedge into educational policy making"

(p. 57). If it is assumed that one of the main functions of the advisory

committee is to make recommendations about school programs, then advisory

committees would not appear to usurp the role of parent/teacher

organizations which do not have an advisory function as their main

concern (Longstreth, 1978, p. 137).

Some authors (California State Department of Education, 1977;

McMillan, 1974; Murray, 1974) have suggested existing councils could

be expanded and modified to take on the functions of an advisory com-

mittee. However, McMillan (1974) pointed out that another organization

cannot serve in lieu of an advisory committee. Nevertheless, Florida

statutes have stipulated that

recognized schoolwide support groups which meet
all criteria established by law or rule may
function as district and school advisory com-
mittees. (F.S. 229.58[1])

In schools where three or more advisory groups exist (e.g., Title

I, PTA, Bilingual) the LESAC could be an umbrella group, coordinating

activities and performing parallel, non-competitive functions (Davies,


A definition of advisory committee purposes, committee members'

roles, and procedures for operation is written into the bylaws of the


committee. As has been stated, the district school board defines the

committee's authority and establishes guidelines for bylaws and roles.

The last two indicators of the characteristic are that bylaws for the

LESAC follow the guidelines set by the school board and that bylaws for

the LESAC are approved by a vote of the committee members.

The importance of specific organizational guidelines or bylaws to

provide a framework within which committees can operate effectively was

emphasized in the conclusions of case studies of Teacher Corps projects

with school-community councils (Winecoff, 1977). Mills (1975) noted

that bylaws provide "a useful means of organizing and operating the

advisory committee with a minimum of wasted time and effort" (p. 93).

Generally bylaws delineate the method of operation, purpose, rules for

membership, meeting dates, and responsibilities of officers and members

(Arnold, 1976; McMillan, 1974).

While the committee may develop its own bylaws to govern committee

activities, most of the literature on the issue stated that committee

developed bylaws must follow board approved guidelines (Mills, 1975;

School Board of Dade County, Florida, 1977). In addition, it is often

recommended that bylaws be adopted by a two-thirds vote of the member-

ship of the committee (Arnold, 1976; School Board of Orange County,

Florida, 1975).

The Advisory Committee Is Organized to Ensure Efficient and
Consistent Accomplishment of Its Objectives

In order to prevent committee members from feeling that they are

wasting their time, Chinn (1975) recommended that advisory committees

be operated efficiently and deal with matters of importance. Davies,

Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) warned that too many

councils "reinvent the wheel" each year over internal organizational

issues. If too much time is spent on council organization, there will

not be enough time left for dealing with more substantial school-

related issues (p. 47).

Committee organization is not an end in itself but a way to enable

committee members to work together in an orderly and harmonious manner

for the achievement of committee objectives. From the literature four

factors can be identified which are often associated with groups that

successfully achieve objectives: 1) division of work among small groups,

2) regular meetings, 3) small group size, and 4) clear definition of

leadership roles and responsibilities. The four indicators of the

characteristic are related to the factors listed above.

The first indicator of effective committee organization is that

for greater efficiency, small groups are named to perform specific

assignments and to report on the assignments at meetings of the full

committee. Support for the indicator was found in sourcebooks, guide-

lines, and case studies of advisory committees, which suggested that

task forces or small groups be organized on a short term basis to carry

out the work of the council (Arnold, 1976; Phipps, Hofstrand, & Shipley,

1979; VanNess, 1974; Tappouni & Tell, 1977). Greenwood et al. (1977)

proposed that once the needs of a school have been identified the

advisory committee can organize "into committees to clarify the nature

and extent of the problems identified" (p. 14). The main function of

task forces, committees, or small groups would be to study specific

problems and to make recommendations to the full committee (Clark &

Shoop, 1974; Druian, 1978).


Cox (1974) and Price (1977) contended that task forces provide an

opportunity for broader community involvement in the work of the com-

mittee. They expressed the belief that some individuals who are un-

willing to attend committee meetings for a full year will devote a

shorter period of time to an area of interest or expertise.

Several authors have proposed ways for dividing up the work of the

committee. Rosaler (Note 1) suggested organizing work groups by sub-

ject or program area, by grade level, by type of task, by member role

(e.g., parent, teacher, student), or by availability of time (p. 65).

Ryan (1976) believed that there should be parents, teachers, and students

in every small group. Small groups would be organized to perform fact-

finding tasks. Each group would be responsible for obtaining a specific

type of information related to the issue being considered. Ryan (1976)

suggested examples of fact-finding activities such as review of docu-

ments and policy statements, in-school surveys, community surveys,

attendance at school board meetings, and visits to other schools

(p. 162).

If advisory committees are to be able to advise, they need time

to seek information, to examine alternatives, and to find solutions to

problems. These activities are more efficiently handled by small groups,

who do the "homework" on a given issue and present the findings to the

full committee.

The second indicator of appropriate committee organization is that

meetings are held regularly (at least every other month). If advisory

committees are to carry on activities for accomplishing objectives, it

stands to reason they must meet (Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; Jenkins,

1976). Most often, authors defined "regular" meetings as monthly meetings

(Arnold, 1976; Chinn, 1975; Kindred, Bagin, & Gallagher, 1976; Murray,

1974). At the very least, it was recommended that committees meet

every other month or five times a year (Tappouni & Tell, 1977). How-

ever, the 1978 report of the Select Joint Committee on Public Schools of

the Florida Legislature indicated that committees organized to meet five

or fewer times each year "seem to work at cross purposes with identified

functions" (p. 264).

The literature about school advisory committee size suggested that

groups with fewer members could achieve objectives more efficiently

than extremely large groups. Therefore, the third characteristic of

the indicator is that group size is small enough to allow all members

to participate.

The term small group is described by Berelson and Steiner (1964) as

an aggregate of people, from two up to an unspecified
but not too large number, who associate together in
face-to-face relations over an extended period of
time. . It is impossible to specify a strict
upper limit on the size of the informal group, except
for the limitation imposed by the requirement that
all members be able to engage in direct personal
relations at one time--which means, roughly, an
upper limit of around fifteen to twenty. If the
aggregate gets much larger than that, it begins to
lose some of the quality of a small group or, in-
deed, begins to break up into small subgroups.
(p. 325)

Various writers (Archer, 1973; Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; McMillan,

1974; Murray, 1974) placed the upper limit on committee membership from

15 to 30, with the ideal limit being set at about 20 members.

However, Longstreth (1978) pointed out that the smaller committee

size, the greater the likelihood that the group will not be broadly

representative of the community (pp. 132-133). Both the requirements

of representativeness and productivity must be considered (Longstreth,

1978, p. 133; Rosaler, Note 1, p. 9).

The final indicator of committee organizational efficiency is that

the leaders' roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. In a

review of elements believed to be associated with advisory committee

effectiveness, Mudrunka (1978) listed leader roles and behaviors as an

important element. Mills (1975) concluded in his study of advisory

committees that

a committee chairman who exercises good leadership
qualities and techniques can bring about member
involvement that will lead to committee effective-
ness. Poor leadership may create frustration among
the membership, causing poor attendance and apathy.
(p. 96)

Group leadership must satisfy two, sometimes conflicting, needs

of the group: the need for initiative, guidance, and information in

the accomplishment of tasks, and the need for developing group harmony,

cohesiveness, and mutual acceptance (Berelson & Steiner, 1976, p. 344).

It is often difficult for one person to provide both kinds of leader-

ship. It is common for a number of persons to assume various kinds of

leadership roles in the group (Druian, 1978). However, to avoid con-

flict in the duplication of roles it is important that the responsi-

bilities associated with each role be carefully outlined. The School

Board of Brevard County, Florida (1979), outlined in detail in its

School Advisory Committees' Handbook the responsibilities of the princi-

pal, the chairperson, the secretary, community representatives, faculty

and staff, and students. Each group has a number of distinct responsi-

bilities for contributing to the overall functions of the larger group.

In school districts where guidelines are provided for committee bylaws

there is sometimes a recommended list of duties for committee officers

(School Board of Orange County, Florida, 1975).

The Membership of the LESAC Is Broadly Representative of the
School and the Community Served by the School

School advisory committees provide the opportunity for both educa-

tors and lay citizens to meet and make cooperative contributions in the

development of educational programs. Morphet (1967) wrote that persons

involved in cooperative projects should be broadly representative of all

points of view in the school or community (pp. 164-166). Blumenberg and

Marmion (1972) claimed that "a successful council is broadly representa-

tive of the community it purports to speak for" (p. 47). Other writers

(Clark & Shoop, 1974; Greenwood et al., 1977; Jenkins, 1976) suggested

that advisory councils be as cross sectional of the community as possible

to insure that local needs and aspirations are met.

Davies (1977) and the Select Joint Committee on Public Schools of

the Florida Legislature (1978) reported that a complex problem for

advisory committee operation was the issue of representativeness.

From studies completed by Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers

(1977, p. 29) and another commissioned by the Select Joint Committee

(1978, p. 225) it was suggested that committees are unrepresentative

of one (and sometimes all) of the following groups: 1) community mem-

bers without children in school, 2) minorities, 3) low income parents,

and 4) males.

Longstreth (1978) contended that not only must members of the

advisory committee be representative of the community, they must also

be perceived as representative. That perception will be affected by

the method used to select committee members (p. 131). The first in-

dicator then, of a representative committee, is that advisory committee

members are elected by all persons eligible to serve on the committee.

The Select Joint Committee (1978) reported that most advisory

committee members gain seats by selection, election, or volunteering.

Several authors (Clark & Shoop, 1974; Mills, 1975; Murray, 1974;

Ornstein, 1973a; Pierce, Note 2) have suggested that a combination of

the three methods can be effective, depending upon what is required in

a situation for achieving a representative committee.

A 1974 survey, conducted in Florida (Davies, Stanton, Clasby,

Zerchykov, and Powers, 1977), showed that the dominant mode of selection

of committee members was appointment by the principal. However, the

community's perception of the representativeness of the advisory com-

mittee may be affected adversely if the principal selects all the

members. Longstreth (1978) observed that there will be a tendency to

view an appointed group as a "handpicked rubber stamp." He claimed

that the perception will be reinforced "as any general concerns arise

which when addressed by the council are dismissed in favor of the

actions of the principal" (pp. 131-132).

Though Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977, p. 65)

and the Select Joint Committee (1978, p. 253) expressed preference for

election of advisory committee members as the preferred method of

selection, nevertheless, use of the election was not widespread. The

Select Joint Committee (1978) listed three reasons why committee mem-

bers were not elected.

1. There is a strong sentiment emerging among
parents that volunteering is the "purest" means
of finding out who really wants to expend time
and energy.
2. Principals clearly want to determine who con-
stitutes the committee and thus what does or
does not get done.
3. Experience with elections to date shows that
they are vastly more complicated than many
anticipated in terms of prior publicity,

overseeing balloting, attracting candidates
with a substantive "results" orientation.
(p. 254)

Despite the problems associated with electing committee members

many sources listed election as preferable to volunteering or appoint-

ment. Marburger (1978) stated that "although some appointed councils

are excellent, the evidence we collected through the Commission on

Educational Governance leads us to the recommendation that councils

should be elected" (p. 32). Longstreth (1978, p. 132) recommended some

form of election to ensure representation and to develop credibility.

The Governor's Citizens' Committee (1973, p. 185) favored election even

though it was more complicated and expensive. Other recent studies

(Arnold, 1976; Hamer, 1977; McMillan, 1974) also provided support for

election of committee members by those eligible to serve on the com-


The second indicator of a representative committee is that the

committee members include the school principal and representatives from

the group of parents, teachers, citizens, and students (where appropri-

ate) associated with the school or living within the area served by

the school. The literature was uniform in support of the importance

of advisory committee membership containing a cross section of the

community. Many writers (Arnold, 1976; Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972;

California State Department of Education, 1977; Davies, 1976; Jenkins,

1976; Ornstein, 1973a; Stanwick, 1975; Tappouni & Tell, 1977) agreed

that advisory committees should represent parents, teachers, administra-

tors, students, and lay citizens in the larger community. Davies (1976)

and Price (1977) emphasized that parents should comprise the majority

of membership. Marx (1978) claimed that good community relations are


enhanced when interested non-parent taxpayers are given a seat on the

committee. A number of committees have opened their membership to

students, a practice advocated by Clark and Shoop (1974) and Nyquist


In the State of Florida, school advisory committee membership was

supposed to "be broadly representative of those persons served by the

school" (Governor's Citizens' Committee, 1973, p. 11). Florida law

stated that committees shall be "composed of teachers, students, parents,

and other citizens" (F.S. 229.58[1]). In order for the school advisory

committee to be broadly representative, some groups in the school com-

munity must be actively solicited (Rosaler, Note 1, p. 8). The final

indicator of a representative advisory committee is that the committee

represents all interest groups in the community, including minorities

and low income families.

Arnold (1976) recommended that besides students, parents, and

teachers, advisory committees obtain representation from-business,

industry, community agencies, the clergy, cultural organizations, other

school organizations, and from citizens at large. Blumenberg and

Marmion (1972) and Price (1977) added taxpayer organizations and social

service clubs to the list.

Most important is that representative on the committee speak for

subgroups and interests in the community (Huguenin, Zerchykov, & Davies,

1979, pp. 64-74). That means that committee membership should reflect

the diversity within the school community, including different racial,

ethnic, and economic groups and different political and economic per-

spectives (Davies, 1976; Ornstein, 1973a).

Longstreth (1978, p. 134) and the Select Joint Committee (1978,

p. 225) observed the frequent absence of representatives from minority

groups and low income families on advisory committees. Greenwood et

al. (1977) pointed out that
getting low-income or minority parent membership
in SAC [School Advisory Committees] is often
difficult due to attitudes built up over the
years. These parents sometimes distrust the
schools due to negative experiences, or do not
believe their membership in SAC is wanted or
that they will be listened to if they attend
the meetings. (p. 14)

Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) claimed that

"unless substantial outreach efforts are made to involve poor and

minority citizens, their representation will not be adequate" (p. 65).

Greenwood et al. (1977) suggested that a special membership committee

be given the task of seeking out underrepresented community members.

The LESAC Has a Defined and Substantive Role in Contributing
to Decisions Which Relate to School Programs

From the study commissioned by the Select Joint Committee (1978)

it was concluded that one of the most serious problems affecting imple-

mentation of school advisory committees is lack of significant power and

authority assigned to the advisory committee (p. 285). Marburger (1978)

addressed the same problem and stated that
if the Council is to have any meaning, it must
participate in decisions that are significant and
its work must have some pay-off in changes that
are helpful to children. Raising money to buy pianos
or projectors may fill a temporary material need, but
it does not have a very significant long-term impact.
In fact, some activities can actually deflect people's
energies from the more important but more difficult
functions they should be performing. (p. 35)


The Select Joint Committee (1978) considered the scope of power and

authority granted to advisory committees to be an issue critical to

effective committee functioning. The Select Joint Committee stated that

the power issue "transcends other issues related to types of structures,

selection of members, and representativeness of members and calls for

major attention" (p. 286).

The literature related to the scope of advisory committee authority

generally differentiated between the various styles of citizen partici-

pation. Participation was defined by the Select Joint Committee (1978)

to mean, taking part in activities to have an impact on decision making

in policy matters. Participation was differentiated from involve-

ment which was defined to mean, taking part in activities but with no

intent to exercise power or to have an effect on decision making

(p. 217).

Arnstein (1970) presented a classification of citizen participa-

tion based on the role a participatory group plays in decision making

and on the results of the group's activity. Her continuum of styles of

participation was represented as a ladder with the bottom rungs de-

scribing involvement which was no more than manipulation to the top

rung which described citizen control. The intermediate rungs of the

Arnstein ladder--informing, consulting, placating, and partnership--

have been applied to school advisory committees. Arnstein did not con-

sider the first three rungs listed above to be more than token partici-

pation. She regarded partnership as the only intermediate level in

which participants had some assurance that their views would be heeded.

Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) applied a

simplified version of Arnstein's eight-rung ladder to the data they

assembled about advisory committees. Their simplified model was in-

cluded in the report of the Select Joint Committee (1978). The report

classified the style of committee participation as token, advisory, and

partnership. Token committees were described as controlled by adminis-

trators to serve the purposes of school administration, not council

members or parents. Advisory committees expressed opinions or gave

advice, with the final authority for a decision resting with someone

outside the committee. Partnership committees could select and arrange

in priority order the issues upon which they would focus. Though a

committee acting in partnership with school officials may not infringe

on the authority delegated by law to the school board or usurp the

rightful responsibility delegated to school officials, the committee could

still expect that on a substantial number of issues its recommendations

would be acted upon (pp. 226-229).

Though the roles most commonly assigned advisory committees were

to inform and consult, and in rarer situations to act in partnership,

a number of writers have insisted that the role of the committee in

contributing to school decision making can have substance only if the

committee has an actual share in the power to make policy. Strong pro-

ponents of this position were Gittell and Fantini. Fantini (1975)

emphasized the need for public schools to belong to the citizens. He

believed that the people should determine the policies and objectives

of education and the professionals should implement these objectives

in the schools. New understandings leading to better education were

possible, he felt, only if school personnel and community members could

work together on an equal basis (p. 8).

Though advocates of community control have made a strong claim for

the necessity of broad participation to diminish resistance to change

in school systems (Bourgeois, 1976; Gittell, 1977; Glass, 1977; Jacoby,

1973; Solo, 1979), experiments with community control have had limited

success (Cohen, 1976; Ornstein, 1973b; Sussman & Speck, 1973). Posi-

tions taken by other writers have tended away from support of adminis-

trative decentralization which allows community control of local school

boards, toward administrative decentralization which encourages community

participation of an advisory nature. Community control is the option

most preferred by liberal educators, black militants, and other minority

groups. The second option is most preferred by professional educators

because their authority and power are less open to scrutiny (Ornstein,


Deshler and Erlich (1972) suggested that community involvement and

community control did not represent a dichotomy but a continuum. That

idea was further developed by Cunningham (1976) who contended that

participation was a matter of degree. People could have a very large

or a very small share in the decision-making process.

Cunningham (1976) also made a second point which related to the

substantive quality of the advisory committee role in decision making.

He stated that

participation and influence, though seemingly alike
in their meaning are not alike. A person who may be
said to participate may or may not possess influence.
If the actions of a participant are ignored or fail
to have an impact on the behavior of other individuals
within the organization, then that participant does
not have influence. (p. 276)

The key issue in determining the advisory committee's role is how

to make that role influential without also granting the committee

authority to make final decisions. It has been suggested by Fantini

(1975) that it is possible for the committee to make significant contri-

butions to the process of formulating decisions even though responsi-

bility for the final decision rests with school officials. Participation

of this kind does not confuse the lines of public accountability (p. 20).

However, if the committee's role is limited to advising, the term

must be given substance and explicit delineation. Failure to do this

results in impasse situations and a sense of futility on the part of

committee members (Archer, 1973; Carpenter, 1975). Committees, to be

successful, need assurance that they can influence decisions. Olivero

(1977) believed that school principals could increase committee influence

by giving them questions of real importance and by listening to and

acting upon their recommendations.

An indicator then, of whether an advisory committee has a substan-

tive role in contributing to school decision, is that while retaining

ultimate responsibility for final decisions, the school principal seeks

recommendations from the advisory committee. Ryan (1976) saw no con-

flict between a principal's seeking committee recommendations on the

one hand while remaining ultimately accountable for the decision on the

other. She stated that

under present legal assignments of authority, par-
ticipation in decision making easily takes place in
the preparatory stages. While decision sharing may
entail giving up present convenience for a further
goals, it requires no change in legal responsibility.
(p. 24)

In the preparatory stages of the decision-making process, members of

the advisory committee can apply knowledge and experience to the assess-

ment of problems and possible solutions. Nonetheless, when the committee

has been defined as an advisory rather than a policy-making body the

accountability for final decisions rests with the school principal

(Fantini, 1975; Jenkins, 1976; Price, 1977). Principals must have

control over final decisions for which they will be held responsible.

Longstreth (1978) pointed out that granting advisory committees authority

to make final decisions would create a difficult situation since there

exists no general mechanism by which committees can be held accountable

for decisions they make (p. 130).

However, a committee empowered to act only in an advisory capacity

will become ineffective and lose membership unless 1) the advice prof-

fered is accepted and adopted (Longstreth, 1978, p. 129), and 2) advice

about substantive issues is sought by the principal on a continuing

rather than on a sporadic basis (Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 227).

It is important, then, that there be a visible acceptance of the

recommendations offered by the committee (Toner & Toner, 1978). Con-

sequently, the second indicator of the characteristic is that the school

principal informs the committee when its recommendations have been

carried out. The indicator is supported by Davies, Stanton, Clasby,

Zerchykov, and Powers (1977, p. 63) who, as a result of studies, sug-

gested that prompt feedback on the actions and recommendations of the

committee provide some assurance to members that their advice will be

heeded. This assumes, of course, that a principal does try to implement

committee recommendations whenever possible (Chinn, 1975, p. 103).

Guidelines for advisory committees formulated by the leadership of

Los Gatos Union School District in California (Principal's advisory

council, 1973) stated that whenever a principal did not accept a commit-

tee's decision he or she was to write a statement to the committee

explaining the reasons for rejecting the action. Blumenberg and Marmion

(1972) and Greenwood et al. (1977) also reiterated that in order to main-

tain an effective committee a principal must feed back to the committee

reasons for accepting or rejecting the committee's advice.

However, acceptance of committee recommendations does not neces-

sarily mean the committee has a substantive role in contributing to

educational decisions. A substantive role also requires that committee

recommendations are sought about issues of importance. Consequently,

the final indicator of the characteristic is that the school principal

submits decisions related to school curriculwn, personnel, budget,

discipline, and building maintenance to the advisory committee for its


Fantini (1975) provided support for the indicator by stating that

school-level advisory committees provide an open forum for dealing with

the basic policy areas of curriculum, budget, and personnel even though

final decisions rest with school officials (p. 25). In a report of the

National Committee for Citizens in Education (1975) it was recommended

that school advisory committees share responsibility for school curriculum

and programs, budgeting, progress reports, and personnel evaluations

(pp. 221-222).

The LESAC Uses Legal and Policy Information to Solve Problems
and Make Recommendations

McCloskey (1959), writing for the National Citizens' Commission

for the Public Schools, stated that advisory committee recommenda-

tions are based on studies that begin with facts (p. 376). As Arnold

(1976) pointed out in her study report, committees must have access


to and knowledge of all available information (p. 51). This character-

istic, and the next, relate to the advisory committee's ability to gain

access to information, to collect and organize it, and to use it appro-

priately for seeking solutions to problems and making recommendations.

Accurate and adequate information is an essential prerequisite for

any purposeful committee action (Mann, 1974; Ryan, 1976, p. 162). Wood

and Martin (1974) affirmed this idea when they stated that

the successful involvement of any council in estab-
lishing goals and objectives, either for the community
program or for its own actions, depends directly upon
the amount and quality of the information available
to it. (p. 50)

Recommendations will be useful if they are based on more than the

opinions of individuals. Mann (1974) recognized a distinction between

knowledge about and attitudes toward the public schools. He stated that

"many people have attitudes about the public schools but those attitudes

or opinions are based on widely varying amounts of information" (p. 4).

Mann (1974) also believed evidence suggested that the "gap" between

the knowledge base of the public and the professional educator has been

used to exclude the public from participation in educational decisions.

Reasons most often given for explaining the "gap" are that the public has

1) little access to information;
2) little ability to interpret what information is
3) little motivation to make use of information;
4) insufficient leisure time to devote to educa-
tional affairs. (p. 5)
The effectiveness of the advisory function will be affected by the
ability of committee members and the willingness of school officials to

narrow the information gap. Adequate information can keep the committee

from two common pitfalls: 1) making the committee a forum for the

discussion of personalities or personnel matters that are best handled

in private conferences (Jenkins, 1976), and 2) failing to give careful

consideration to the issues and thus becoming "fickle tyrants promoting

the latest fad" (Carpenter, 1975, p. 427).

The advisory committee needs to be able to gather and use several

kinds of information--legal and policy statements as well as data from

the school and community. The characteristic under consideration deals

with access to and use of legal and policy information. The first

indicator of this characteristic is that the advisory committee can see

copies of school board policies, state laws, and Florida department of

education guidelines about issues the committee will consider.

Support of the indicator is implied in a statement made by Nyquist

(1977) that problems and issues must be considered in context. Part of

the context of an issue is the law and policy which relate to it.

Olivero (1977) stated that it is the responsibility of the school

administrator to provide committee members information that leads to a

basic understanding of the issues. Cox (1974) and Hamer (1977) indica-

ted that the sources of information provided need to include local,

county, state, and federal documents.

It was suggested by at least two writers that there is power in

having information (Henderson, 1976; Kuykendall, 1976). The credibility

and force of group action can be strengthened if the group knows the

politics of the state legislature and the legislative forces that favor

or oppose its goals. It would follow that knowledge of the policies

and politics operating at the school and district level would be

equally useful.

The process of fact finding should be done in a planned and organized

manner (Cox, 1974). The process involves becoming aware of and locating

information, studying and interpreting it, and using it to understand

the issues. For many committee members the process may require skills

they have had little opportunity to exercise. Therefore the second

indicator is that the committee is trained to consider all the facts

(including policy and laws) which affect its recommendations.

Kenneth Jenkins (1976) urged principals to recognize that advisory

committee members are functioning in new roles. He suggested that


find some way to provide training for them, such as
an intensive short course that touches on group
process, decision making, school organization, the
program of studies, and prevalent state law and
board policies. They should not be asked to operate
out of ignorance. (p. 72)

The need for committee training has been considered in a narrow

context in the preceding paragraph. A similar but more inclusive in-

dicator is developed later in relation to resources and supports

needed by advisory committees.

Committee Members Have Formal Ways of Gathering and Receiving
Information They Can Use to Assess Needs, Determine
Priorities, and Formulate Recommendations

Mudrunka (1978) included a "vehicle for gathering or receiving

information" (p. 20) in a list of factors contributing to advisory

committee effectiveness. Information acquisition is vital to committee

functions which include needs assessment, goal setting, and evaluation

(Davies, 1976; Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 230).

Cox (1974) in a study of functions common to all advisory commit-

tees described the importance of fact finding. He stated that

fact finding is a function of immense value to those
who are responsible for planning and programming.
The old adage that decisions are only as good as the
information on which they are based can be applied
to planning and programming. Without proper infor-
mation to base your plans, the resultant programs
may not be relevant to the need or may duplicate
The fact finding function if properly discharged
by the council can be the most time consuming as it
is continuous and involves constant monitoring. It
also involves the establishment of a community data
base and bank for assessing and determining community
needs, interests, and resources. (p. 31)

Burges (1977), in a more recent study, described the fact finding

function as one of a series of steps which could lead to increased

citizen participation. He stated the following:

Citizen groups must become more cohesive, goal
directed, and knowledgeable in dealing with educa-
tional issues and bureaucrats. One of the most
important aspects of collective action is that it
be informed. Citizen groups must develop an on-going
fact-finding and action-research capacity that allows
them to define and identify the issues, get the facts,
make proposals, and act for change. With an action
research capacity, groups can provide opportunities
for volunteers, build community support, prepare
"professional" papers and proposals, and win the
respect of policy makers. (pp. 61-62)

Many writers have identified setting goals and identification of

priorities for the school as a major area of influence for school

advisory committees (Arnold, 1976; Davies, 1977; A Guide for Planning,

1975; Nyquist, 1977; Stanwick, 1975). The needs assessment is the

common information gathering technique used prior to establishing

priorities and making recommendations (Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; Green-

wood et al., 1977; McMillan, 1974). According to Toner and Toner (1978),

data collection begins at the same time that the problem is being

defined and continues until a final set of alternatives has been


The indicators of this characteristic describe more specifically

the information gathering function of advisory committees as the func-

tion relates to the decision-making process. Because this particular

activity of committees is so closely related to decision making it is

dealt with here rather than in relation to roles and functions.

The first indicator of the characteristic is that advisory committee

members are invited to attend meetings of other school committees or are

allowed to voluntarily participate in school activities to gain first-

hand experience or collect data needed to make useful recommendations.

A committee's ability to take action on problems depends upon its access

to school related information (Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, &

Powers, 1977, p. 63). Haskins (1978) pointed out that one way parents

can find out about education is to have schools open so that parents

can move in and out of them very easily.

Several authors have listed ways in which open access can be

achieved. Arnold (1976) suggested appropriate inclusion of members in

meetings and conferences (p. 55). Greenwood et al. (1977) proposed

that committee members be allowed to tour school facilities, talk with

students, visit with teachers during planning periods, and participate

in curriculum planning sessions. Some sites for observation listed by

Rosaler (Note 1) included the classroom, playground, cafeteria, staff

meetings, and school events (p. 81).

One of the most effective ways for parents to receive accurate

information about the school, according to several authorities, was

through participation in a school volunteer program. Gordon and

Breivogel (1976) contended that advising was only one role the parent

could play in school activities. The role of the parent as volunteer

was considered to be equally important for promoting participation

(pp. 6-9). A major feature of the model for parent/citizen roles in

public schools developed by Mudrunka (1978) was the volunteer parent

paraprofessional program (p. 81). Burges (1977) and Solo (1979) cited

school situations in which a volunteer program became a means for parents

to gain information about school programs and to be able, in some

measure, to influence decisions about the programs.

The fact-finding activities of the advisory committee must include

obtaining information from the community as well as from the school.

Public perceptions and opinions about school programs have a bearing on

how well the programs will be received and on how effectively the pro-

grams can be implemented (Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; Mullarney, 1974).

Therefore, the second indicator of the characteristic is that committee

members can get information by asking opinions of the groups they


Asking questions is one way of getting information directly from

people with an interest in a certain issue. The advantages of simply

asking people questions, according to Garman and Hunter (1978) and Rosaler

(Note 1) are that direct responses to particular questions are obtained

and current data are provided. However, the disadvantages are that

1) much time and effort are needed to gather the information and process

it into a useful form, and 2) the information received does not account

for past experience or expert opinion. Other common ways in which ad-

visory committees have collected information from the community are by


personal interviews, written forms (or surveys), speaking to groups,

and talking to personnel from community agencies (Price, 1977; Tappouni

& Tell, 1977).

The third indicator follows logically from the first two. The

reason for fact finding is to enable committees to make enlightened

recommendations. Therefore, the next indicator of an advisory

committee's effectiveness in gathering and receiving information is

that the committee uses data from the persons it represents to make

recommendations about community needs and expectations for the school.

Rosaler (Note 1) listed several important considerations in report-

ing information: 1) The committee must think about what, why, how, to

whom, and when the results will be presented; 2) the information should

be specified as fact, opinion, or experience; 3) all sides of an issue

need to be represented. Greenwood et al. (1977) and the.Select Joint

Committee (1978, p. 262) cited examples of advisory committees which

used information reports to give advice to school administrators about

community conditions, aspirations, and goals. As Toner and Toner (1978)

have observed,

this is information about how current values, goals,
and interests of different groups and individuals
relate to the problem and influence the solution.
(p. 18)

Some types of information are needed by committees on a regular

basis for background, clarification, updating, or planning. Committees

can save time and operate more efficiently when this information can be

obtained in a central location. Thus, the final indicator of the charac-

teristic is that committee members have access to a parent resource center

which provides information and material about parent advisory committees.


Davies (1976) reported that

there are only a few scattered examples of citizen
information and service organizations and centers
to provide such help. Many more are needed. An
adequate investment of time and money (both public
and private) is required to make such information
and service organizations widely available and
effective. (p. 28)

In another study, Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers

(1977) inferred that it was the responsibility of the formal leadership

of the school district to provide a parent resource center for school

committees (p. 63). A school which is organized as an I.G.E. (individu-

ally guided education) school often has a parent information center (or

learning station for parents) where parents can become better informed

about their own school and the program which is operating in it (Murray,

1974). Rosaler (Note 1) recommended that each school have an advisory

committee resource file of books, periodicals, and reports that contain

ideas for running meetings, working with a volunteer program, gathering

information, and planning essential activities (p. 110).

Roles and Functions

The functions of school advisory committees are limited by the

definition of authority for committees. What committees can do depends

on the formal power granted to do it by school board policy (Davies,

Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, & Powers, 1977, p. 41). The characteristics

presented in this part describe three functions which authorities

(Davies, 1976, 1977; Nyquist, 1977; Price, 1977) commonly assign to

school committees which act in an advisory rather than in a policy

making capacity. The three functions include: 1) evaluating the

effectiveness of the educational program by conducting inquiries and

needs assessments; 2) contributing to decision making by offering

recommendations; and 3) communicating information to the school com-

munity. Each of these functions can be directed toward a wide range

of issues (Clasby, Webster, & White, 1973), particularly in a state like

Florida where the law stated that committees had to be involved in the

annual report of school progress (F.S. 229.58[2]). Three issues men-

tioned frequently are curriculum, budget, and personnel (Davies, 1976;

Gittell, 1977; Simmons, 1977; Stanwick, 1975). Nyquist (1977) added

student welfare and public support to the list of issues often considered

by committees.

The three characteristics which follow are descriptions of the func-

tions listed above. The indicators are descriptions of specific activi-

ties related to each function.

The LESAC Has Responsibility for Evaluating the School's Educational
Effectiveness and for Reporting Its Findings to the Parents of
Children Attending the School

Pierce (Note 2) wrote that school advisory committees are an integ-

ral part of school based management wherever it has been tried. School

councils, he said,

need to be intimately involved in designing and
evaluating the school program. In California,
councils are required to develop the school's
improvement plan. Whether developing a new plan,
or working with teachers on the school's regular
program, the council should decide what students
need to learn, assess the capabilities of both the
school's teachers and programs to teach those com-
petencies, recommend changes for improving the
effectiveness of school programs, and design a
system for evaluating school programs. (p. 37)

The evaluation process is related specifically to carrying out a

needs assessment. Arnold (1976) specified that the needs assessment

preceded the development of objectives and setting of priorities (p. 194).

Falkson and Grainer (1972) reported that studies of advisory committees'

perceptions of the evaluation function have shown that when investiga-

tion of needs revealed institutional deficiencies the advisory committee

believed its function was to recommend corrective measures. Price

(1977) pointed out that as committees are involved in needs assessment

activities, they become aware of community concerns and resources.

Price added that, relying on the data obtained from a needs assessment,

committees could engage in prudent planning by:

.reviewing the needs, interests, etc.
.placing them in priority order
.examining existing programs and services to see if
the priority or needs can be met
.examining the feasibility and constraints for each
alternative program in relation to priorities
.identifying the alternative courses of action
.making recommendations to the policy-makers or
program administrator
.assisting in the design of a desired program
(pp. 5-6)

In the State of Florida the advisory committee's responsibility for

evaluating school programs was closely tied to the committee's involve-

ment in preparing the annual report of school progress. The relation-

ship between the two activities was clearly defined in the recommenda-

tions of the Governor's Citizens' Committee on Education in 1973. The

report of the committee stated that

The individual school should be the basic unit of
accountability in Florida. To achieve this account-
ability there should be an Annual Report of School
Progress which details the improvements made in
education at the school during the year--and which
identifies the areas in need of further improvement.
Serving as a basic performance audit instrument,
hopefully, the Annual Report will become a powerful
tool for achieving school level improvements and
innovations. It will be a "report card" of the
school to the parents written in a plain, simple,
brief style. (p. 11)

Realistically then, in order to participate in any meaningful way

in the preparation of the annual report of school progress, the advisory

committee must be able to inquire and make recommendations about central

administrative issues (Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 235, 264).

Therefore, an indicator of the characteristics that the LESAC is given

significant responsibility and freedom by the school principal to help

evaluate school objectives and programs.

The California State Department of Education (1977) recommended

that after a school committee was formed it should turn its attention

to school improvement by taking a critical look at the total school pro-

gram. It was suggested that the committee ask the following kinds of

questions as a starting place for planning:

What abilities and competencies does the council
want learners to possess?
How effective is the existing school program and
organization in bringing about student growth?
Is the school climate conducive to learning?
Is every student achieving consistently within
his or her abilities? (pp. 6-7)

In Florida it was the prerogative of the school principal to

decide what the scope of committee involvement would be in planning

school programs. Florida law stated that the advisory committee "shall

provide such assistance as the principal may request in preparing the

school's annual budget and plan" (F.S. 229.58[2]). However, as the

Select Joint Committee (1978) pointed out, the functions assigned to

advisory committees are not always consistent with their responsibilities

related to the annual report of school progress (p. 264).

The second indicator of the characteristic is that the LESAC helps

the principal prepare the annual report of school progress. Pierce

(Note 2) reported that both Florida and California required an annual

performance report which is distributed in the community. He noted


the reports vary in content and methods of prepara-
tion. Information on the school, the school staff,
student performance, program strengths and program
deficiencies, and surveys of opinions about the
school from parents, teachers, and students pro-
bably ought to be included. Councils might work
with the school staff in preparing the report;
however, some sections should be reserved for the
exclusive use by parents, students, and staff.
(pp. 37-38)

The major function assigned to the school advisory committee by

Florida law was that the committee "shall assist in the annual report"

(F.S. 229.58[1]). The report, as specified in F.S. 229.575(3), covered

a broad range of issues to include a) school goals and objectives,

b) student progress and achievement of minimum performance standards,

c) school budget, d) school needs and student needs, and e) a summary

of teacher, student, parent, and community attitudes toward the school.

Development of the annual report was intended by the Florida legis-

lature to be the primary means for insuring wide ranging involvement of

parent advisory committees in the evaluation of school programs (Stanwick,

1975). Guthrie (1974) believed that the ultimate purpose of the annual

report was to permit citizens a role in the decision process, to provide

them with information for making good judgments, and to clarify which

professionals are responsible for implementing their recommendations.

The LESAC Helps Make Decisions or Recommendations in Broad Areas
Related to School Objectives, the Major Emphases of Programs,
Desired Outcomes Related to the Learning of Students, Budget
Planning, and Personnel Priorities

As has been pointed out in the definitions of the preceding char-

acteristic and indicators, the advisory committee studies and evaluates

the educational program so that it can make useful recommendations. It

has also been shown that Florida law allowed committee involvement in a

broad range of issues. Florida law (F.S. 229.58[2]) specifically men-

tioned committee participation in setting program and budget priorities.

However, there was considerable support from other authoritative sources

for participation in personnel selection as well.

Longstreth (1978) supported the involvement of advisory committees

in the "statements of goals and objectives, general direction of the

schools, major emphases of the educational programs, and desired outcomes

as related to the learning of students" (p. 127). Ryan (1976) believed

that committees should work on "goals, long-range planning, major cur-

riculum revision, and organizational change" (p. 136). The role of

advisory committees as described by Greenwood et al. (1977) was to make

"recommendations for improvements and modifications in all facets of the

school's program" (p. 13).

There was specific support in the literature for the substantive

influence of committees on three key areas of educational policy: pro-

gram, personnel, and budget of local schools (Davies, Stanton, Clasby,

Zerchykov, & Powers, 1977, p. 6; Governor's Citizens' Committee on

Education, 1973, p. 11; Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 229). Other

issues listed by the Select Joint Committee (1978) have an indirect

bearing on the school program, but are important to student welfare.

Consequently, some of the following issues have been commonly addressed

by advisory committees: decentralization, desegregation, discipline

and student rights, building conditions, safety, zoning, transportation,

and school community relations (pp. 230-231).


Eight issues were mentioned regularly in the literature as the

focus of advisory committee activity or as the subject of recommenda-

tions. Each of the issues is described as an indicator. The indicators

show whether the advisory committee contributes to decision making by

making recommendations across a wide range of issues.

The first indicator is that the advisory committee makes recommenda-

tions and helps plan educational programs designed to meet school objec-

tives and minimum performance standards. In the literature about the

scope of advisory committee activities there was nearly universal

agreement among writers that committees should have a part in evaluating

and making recommendations about objectives and programs in the area of

curriculum. Davies (1976) stated that committees should have within

their scope the task of "reviewing and approving new school programs,

curricula, and student activities" (p. 27). Hamer (1977) said councils

should be included in "developments regarding the educational program"

(p. 14). A study of committee functions completed by Stanwick (1975)

showed that advisory committees had moderate influence in making evalua-

tions about curriculum. Johnston (1974) argued more strongly for some

committee authority about "curriculum decisions, decisions on what is

to be taught and learned when, how, and by whom" (p. 113).

In Florida, the advisory committee's responsibility for contributing

to program planning was linked to the Educational Accountability Act of

1976. Part of the legislative intent in passing the Accountability

Act was to

provide information to the public about the per-
formance of the Florida system of public education
in meeting established goals and providing effective,
meaningful, and relevant educational experiences
designed to give students at least the minimum
skills necessary to function and survive in today's
society. (F.S. 229.55[2][f])

The law also stipulated that if the composite performance of

students in a school or basic program fell below the established

minimum standards, the advisory committee was to be notified as well

as the principal and superintendent, so that corrective measures may

be taken (F.S. 229.57[2][d]).

However, beyond state minimums, the Governor's Citizens' Committee

on Education (1973) indicated that there should be substantial oppor-

tunity for local districts and local schools to shape what is taught

to their particular interests and needs. The Governor's Citizens'

Committee believed this "shaping" should be an important function for

the school advisory committee (p. 184). Florida law implicitly supported

this function by emphasizing a "system of school based management in

which individual school centers become the principal planning units"

(F.S. 229.555[1][b]) and where planning and budgeting are eventually

to be integrated at the school level.

The second indicator, describing an issue upon which advisory com-

mittees focus, is that the advisory committee helps the principal pre-

pare the school budget. As has been stated earlier, the decision of

the Florida legislature to adopt school-based management (F.S. 229.555

[l][b]; F.S. 229.58[2]) allowed greater budget discretion at the school

level. The law allowed principals, parents, and teachers to allocate

funds in a way that suits an individual school (Cronin, 1977).

Budget considerations were listed by Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchy-

kov, and Powers (1977, p. 49) in a typical battery of committee responsi-

bilities. Marburger (1978, p. 36) considered budgeting to be a major

function for a parent/citizen committee. Stanwick (1975) reported that

setting budget priorities was an area of some influence for all types

of advisory groups and that policy groups are slightly more likely to

exert major influence in this area than advisory groups. Extensive

support for committee involvement in budget decisions was found in much

of the literature (Davies, 1977; Greenwood et al., 1977; Hamer, 1977;

Johnston, 1974; Ryan, 1976; Simmons, 1977).

The third indicator of the characteristic is that the advisory

committee makes recommendations to the school principal about building

maintenance and the purchase of supplies and equipment. Building con-

ditions are one of the major school climate issues which committees

have addressed (Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 230). Public involve-

ment in building conditions has been encouraged by school principals.

Simmons (1977) described committee meetings which were widely attended

when stage curtains, air conditioning, and general maintenance problems

of the school were on the agenda. The Select Joint Committee (1978)

reported that documents from 33 Florida school districts specified

"facilities" as an arena for advisory committee action (p. 260).

The fourth indicator of the characteristic is that the advisory

committee makes recommendations about a student code of conduct and

discipline policies. Wallat and Goldman (1979, p. 25) noted that four

states passed legislation recommending parent involvement in adminis-

trative procedures related to discipline and classification of students.

Longstreth (1978, p. 127) also stated parents should contribute to

student discipline policies. Surveys of Florida school committees

have shown that among the mandated responsibilities of many councils

is the development of a code of discipline (Davies, Stanton, Clasby,

Zerchykov, & Powers, 1977, p. 49; Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 230).

From a study of school advisory committee activities by the Florida

Senate Education Committee in 1974 (cited in Greenwood et al., 1977)

it was reported that 45 percent of the committees surveyed "suggested

ways of dealing with students' problems, school dropout rate and

vandalism" (p. 13).

The next two indicators deal with committee participation in

developing criteria for the selection of school personnel. The indica-

tors are that the advisory committee helps develop criteria for the

selection of the school principal and the advisory committee helps

develop criteria for the selection of school level personnel. The role

of advisory committees in personnel selection has generated divided

opinion in the literature. At the far end of the spectrum of opinion

were the advocates of community control who wanted committees to have a

direct and authoritative role in the selection and review of personnel

(Gittell, 1977). Davies (1977) and Stanwick (1975) claimed that effec-

tive advisory committees have the authority to participate in the

selection and evaluation of a school principal and a school staff.

The opinion that committees should have some responsibility for per-

sonnel evaluations was also shared by the National Committee for

Citizens in Education (cited in Ryan, 1976, p. 139).

Greenwood et al. (1977) and Stanwick (1975) showed that selecting

principals ranked near the middle in areas of influence for advisory

committees while selection and evaluation of teachers ranked very low.

In California and Florida the selection of teachers was exclusively

the principal's function, though the principal might choose to take

the advice of the committee about the kinds and characteristics of

teachers (Guthrie, 1974; Price, 1977).

A number of writers made a distinction between selection of per-

sonnel and developing criteria for the selection of personnel. John-

ston (1974), for instance, suggested that citizen groups should be able

to discuss the quantity and qualifications of personnel being hired in

a school. The indicators of the characteristic state that committees

shall help develop criteria for selection of personnel, and not neces-

sarily help in the actual selection process. Wording the indicators in

this way seemed to be more consistent with literature related to func-

tions of committees in the State of Florida.

The role of advisory committees in personnel selection in the State

of Florida was clearly recommended by the Governor's Citizens' Committee

in 1973. It stated that

their primary purpose should be to participate in
the selection of a school principal. It appears
that the most appropriate manner in which such par-
ticipation can take place is for the central dis-
trict administration or board of education to
provide the PAC [Parent Advisory Committee] for
a particular school with a list of candidates,
and seek their recommendations. The PAC should
be free to interview candidates and rank order
their choices. The final selection, for legal
and other reasons, probably should reside with
district authorities.
In addition to assisting in principal selection,
the PAC for each school should provide criteria for
the selection of teachers. Presumably, such guide-
lines would be in excess of or supplement state
credentialing criteria. PAC's should not, however,
be permitted to employ teachers themselves. As we
have said above, this prerogative should be re-
served to the principal. It is not fair to hold
the principal responsible for the operation of the
school if he is not given discretion in the hiring
of his personnel. (p. 184)

In 1978, the Select Joint Committee in its reassessment of educa-

tion in Florida reiterated the recommendation made in 1973. It was recom-

mended that school advisory committees be empowered to "participate

in the selection of school principals and to participate in developing

criteria for the selection of school-level personnel" (p. 293).

The seventh indicator is related to a function which is unique to

advisory committees in Florida and in California. The indicator is that

the advisory committee helps develop programs for school management

improvement grants, educational improvement grants, and other special

state improvement programs when the approval of grants requires written

advisory committee endorsement. The Select Joint Committee recommended

this function in its 1978 report and the Florida legislature made it a

law in 1979. The law stated that

(1) Pursuant to rules adopted by the State Board of
Education, each district school board, or each
principal through the district school board, may
submit to the commissioner for approval a proposal
for implementing an educational improvement pro-
ject. Such proposals shall be developed with the
assistance of district and school advisory com-
mittees and may address any or all of the following
areas: school management improvement, district
and school advisory committee improvement, school
volunteers, and any other educational area which
would be improved through a closer working rela-
tionship between school and community. Priority
shall be given to proposals which provide for the
inclusion of existing resources, such as district
educational training funds, in the implementation
of the educational improvement project.
(2) For each project approved, the commissioner
shall authorize distribution of a grant, in an
amount not less than $500 and not more than $5000,
from funds available to the Department of Educa-
tion for educational improvement projects. (F.S.

Florida's initiation of state-financed mini-grants to local com-

mittees has been considered nationally significant (Institute for

Responsive Education, 1979). State incentives for advisory committees

help provide "financial support for efforts to develop imaginative

approaches to school community collaboration" (Davies, 1976, p. 28).

California has also legislated funds for school improvement (A.B.

65). Again, a condition for receiving funds was advisory committee par-

ticipation in planning of programs. Evans (1978) felt that financial

incentives from the state provided the opportunity for some schools to

do the planning and reorganization necessary for significant and sus-

tained change.

The final indicator of the characteristic is that the advisory

commi-tee helps seek resources, inside and outside the school community,

that can benefit the school's educational program. This particular

indicator may fall within the scope of advisory committee functions in

schools where the LESAC and the PTA have combined functions to become

one organization. Normally, as Falkson and Grainer (1972) pointed out,

the PTA has been responsible for donating manpower and a variety of

auxiliary services for the school. Where a school has both a function-

ing LESAC and PTA this may be an area of cooperative effort between

the two groups.

Seeking community resources for school programs was mentioned

frequently enough in the literature to warrant its inclusion as an

indicator. Price (1977) observed that

as the council performs its functions, it becomes
more aware of other resources in and out of the
community. These resources include manpower, facili-
ties, equipment, and finances. (p. 17)

The advisory committee can become a catalyst for bringing together

school programs and community resources of both an environmental and

cultural nature (Cox, 1974; Dobson & Dobson, 1975; Nyquist, 1977;

Tappouni & Tell, 1977). School volunteers are a valuable source of

community assistance for the school. Davies (1976) listed coordination

of volunteer and other parent-community assistance programs as an advisory

committee responsibility.

The LESAC Is Responsible for Communicating Specific Types of
Information About School Effectiveness and Accountability to
Parents, and for Communicating Information from the Community
to the School

In a summary of its findings the Select Joint Committee (1978)

reported that most committees "give minimal attention to developing

formal or informal communication channels inside or outside the school"

(p. 274). There is a lack of adequate information flowing from the

school into the homes of students and often, even less understanding at

the school about parents' needs and opinions. And yet, as Fantini

(1969) remarked, "The people are the trustees of the schools. They

have a right to ask why Johnny can't read" (p. 26).

The school advisory committee is "in an excellent position to

nurture constructive school community communications" (Mayher, 1976,

p. 13). Several authors (Arnold, 1976, p. 50; Chinn, 1975, p. 105;

Mudrunka, 1978, p. 20) have pointed to the advisory committee as a link

between the school and community. Cox (1974) maintained that the com-

mittee has the "responsibility of maintaining a two way flow of communi-

cation between the council and the community" (p. 32). Murray (1974)

added that just as the principal has an obligation to listen to and

inform the committee, so the committee must assume these same responsi-

bilities with the school community.

Toner and Toner (1978) examined citizen participation in the

broader arena of public policy. They proposed a definition of the

communication process between an agency staff, officials, and the

public which can be applied to the communication function of advisory

committees. Toner and Toner said that citizen participation is an

interactive communication process which seeks to do the following:

1. Provide adequate information to the public
about the issues and alternatives for solution
or action.
2. Gather information from the public regarding
their goals, values, interests, concerns, and
3. Document and use information from the public
in planning and decision making. (p. 8)

Obtaining the cooperation of parents and others in support of

educational affairs was often listed as a goal of parent and citizen

involvement (Davies, 1976; Nyquist, 1977; Stanwick; 1975). Improvement

of school-community communication may be one means of reaching the goal.

There are five indicators for this characteristic. The first is

that the LESAC helps distribute and explain the annual report of school

progress to parents. The recommendation of the Governor's Citizens'

Committee (1973) that an annual report be prepared at each school in

Florida also stated that the report should be broadly disseminated in

the community. However, distribution is not the end of the reporting

process, but rather the beginning, if the annual report is to achieve

its purpose as a "basic performance audit instrument" (Governor's

Citizens' Committee, 1973, p. 11). The report is meant to be a source

of information that can promote discussion and planning for school

level improvements. One of the conclusions of the study commissioned

by the Select Joint Committee (1978) described the role of the advisory

committee in explaining and using information from the annual report in

the manner intended by the legislature. The Select Joint Committee

stated that

the groundwork has been laid for moving toward fuller
realization of the purposes of the publication.
Substantial work is needed in preparing explanations
which make the data informative to the average citi-
zen and in providing opportunities for public
discussion of the implications. Such tasks are
eminently appropriate to members of school advisory
committees. Furthermore, sequencing the work of

school advisory committees so that recommendations
flow from community discussion of the annual
report would assist the committees in generating
informed discussion on data-based agendas. (p. 288)

Ryan (1976) stressed that during every phase of committee activity,

"keeping the community informed of what is going forward is extremely

important" (p. 154). Information, she added, develops support, elicits

interest, and helps avoid problems caused by misinformation. The next

two indicators describe committee activities for providing ongoing

information to the community about the work of the committee. The

second indicator is that the LESAC maintains minutes of its meetings.

The third is that the LESAC publishes regular progress reports for its

projects, and the reports are available to the public. Again, Ryan

(1976) suggested that publication of an agenda before the committee

meeting, as well as summaries of reports, proposals, and plans after

the meeting, helps build community acceptance of the committee's work

(p. 154). Greenwood et al. (1977) stressed the usefulness of instructing

committee secretaries to record evidence of LESAC decisions and recom-

mendations in minutes of the meeting. There are several reasons for

keeping accurate minutes of meetings. Rosaler (Note 1) listed three

of them:

a. They keep members from forgetting what happened.
b. They serve as a report to the people who weren't
at the meeting.
c. They can inform members about what will happen
next time by including the agenda for the next
meeting. (p. 48)

Published minutes can serve as a kind of progress report of pro-

jects, if the minutes are distributed to all interested parents in some

way. Murray (1974) suggested including a "recap" of the minutes in a

parent newsletter. Rosaler (Note 1) indicated that LESAC minutes might


be attached to school notices being sent home with children or a summary

might be printed in the local newspaper (p. 48).

There are several ways advisory committees can keep the public in-

formed about committee projects and progress. Some of the means listed

by Cox (1974) included use of newsletters, church bulletins, newspapers,

radio, mail, telephone, television, brochures, PTA, and speaking engage-

ments. The two frequently mentioned means of reporting to the public

were through newsletters (Arnold, 1976, p. 193; Murray, 1974) and open

meetings with pre-published agendas (Arnold, 1976, p. 193; Jenkins,

1976). Jenkins (1976) believed that making meetings open to the public

could "do much to negate any aura of clandestine decision making, and

will show that the committee is not the principal's puppet" (p. 72).

As representatives of the school community, members of the advisory

committee not only provide information to the persons they represent,

but also must have ways of receiving information from those persons

about their needs and questions. Therefore another indicator of the

effectiveness of the committee's communication function is that a formal

process is established so parents can submit questions and concerns to

the advisory committee. An open advisory committee meeting can be a

forum for parents and others to express their expectations in matters

related to school affairs (Nyquist, 1977). If an agenda were published

in advance, individual citizens who were concerned about specific items

on the agenda could be scheduled to present subjects for the committee's

consideration (Select Joint Committee, 1978, p. 263). Blumenberg and

Marmion (1972) felt that "agendas, planned by more than just the prin-

cipal, should leave time for immediate concerns as well as formal

matters" (p. 47).

However, not every person concerned about the school program may

be able to attend an advisory committee meeting. Ells (1976) said


parents should be encouraged to make personal
contacts with the school in person, by telephone,
and by letter at any time. In addition,the use
of parent questionnaires and evaluation sheets
covering many areas of the school program are
useful. (p. 119)

Community surveys are another way in which advisory committees can

obtain information from the persons they represent. In fact, a survey

will provide information from people who do not always attend meetings

and whose opinions would not be known unless requested. The fifth

indicator then is that the advisory committee helps conduct a survey

to collect information about teacher, student, parent, and community

attitudes toward the school.

Barth (1978) stated that it is not uncommon for advisory commit-

tees to develop and circulate a questionnaire to assess community

satisfaction with a school's instructional program. Mayher (1976)

elaborated on the value of surveying community opinion in the following


It behooves citizens to find out why there are wide
differences in performance between their schools and
within their schools. They may find that a large
part of the fault is on their own doorsteps. If so,
it may be because of insufficient resources or lack
of attention to the use of the resources. The place
to find out is in the schools where the climate can
be felt; problems, needs, and accomplishments are
close at hand; and the data is easily managed.
School community councils are needed to ask the
questions. (p. 13)

One of the items required by the Florida Legislature in the annual

report of school progress was a summary "of teacher, student, parent,

and community attitudes toward the school" (F.S. 229.575[3][e]).

Typically, advisory committees have used a survey to determine the

attitudes of teachers, students, and parents about various aspects of

the school program (Greenwood et al., 1977).

A survey is a series of written questions designed to elicit

opinions, feelings, or facts (Rosaler, Note 1, p. 79). There are

several major activities to be completed by groups that have decided

to write and conduct their own survey. Garman and Hunter (1978) listed

the activities as 1) selecting a survey method, 2) deciding what ques-

tions to ask and how you will use the data, 3) deciding whom to survey,

4) publicizing the survey, 5) conducting the survey, 6) tabulating and

displaying survey information, and 7) reporting survey results.

Rosaler (Note 1) described the advantages of using a survey to

collect information. She said that 1) a survey can reach many people

in a short time, 2) it is inexpensive, 3) it provides anonymity, and

4) a survey produces responses that are easily summarized and reported

(p. 79).

Group Processes

The last six characteristics relate to the way the advisory

committee does its work. The characteristics describe both the manner

in which group members relate to each other and the way in which members

relate to the tasks they have set. The effectiveness with which the

group works together will be influenced by factors external to the

group as well as by internal factors. The external factors which in-

fluence an advisory committee's potential for accomplishing its goals

include access to necessary human and material resources, recognition

and support by local and state school officials, and open lines of

communication with educational agencies, groups, and persons concerned

with the school. Internal factors include the kind of relationships

the group members have with each other, the way in which members work

together to set and achieve goals, and the manner in which the committee

evaluates its progress toward goals.

Though a group is just as strong as the individual strengths of

each member, nevertheless there is tremendous potential when individuals

combine their capabilities and direct their energies toward group pur-

poses. However, as Likert (1961) pointed out, though groups have a

potential for effective action, they often are not effective. He said


the surprising thing about committees is not that
many or most are ineffective, but that they accomplish
as much as they do when, relatively speaking, we know
so little about how to use them. There has been a
lack of systematic study of ways to make committees
effective. (p. 163)

When a group lacks the essential resources to function properly,

or when the group members are unable to cooperate with one another, the

group will probably be ineffective in reaching its objectives. A pub-

lication of the National Committee for Citizens in Education (Kuykendall,

1976) listed 12 reasons why group processes break down and parent groups

fail to achieve their potential. The 12 reasons are

(1) ineffective use of time by parent organiza-
(2) lack of information
(3) lack of communication
(4) lack of discipline
(5) lack of unity
(6) lack of persistence

(7) lack of cooperative organization efforts
(8) lack of direction
(9) lack of short- and long-range planning
(10) inability to identify problems and set
(11) inability to work with parents whose involve-
ment may be on a different level
(12) lack of money. (p. 27)

The first two weaknesses listed above have been addressed positively

in the definition of earlier characteristics and indicators. The others

are identified in a number of the characteristics and indicators which


The LESAC Has Access to Resources at the School, District, and
State Level for the Improvement of Its Processes and Functions

Hamer (1977) showed that effective councils required a full range

of support services. Gittell (1977) stated that provision of informa-

tion and technical assistance to community participants was an impor-

tant aspect of developing community councils. She believed that this

aspect was too often overlooked. If community participation in school

planning is to succeed, advisory committees must have access to re-

sources at the local, district, and state level. Burges (1977) stated


community participation and school decentralization
mandated by legislation and administrative or
judicial decree need resources and political support
to succeed. One cannot expect people to participate
in community organizations unless resources are
devoted to nurture and support participation. The
expanding State and Federal role in public education
has promise to stimulate participation if resources
as well as regulations are forthcoming. (p. 62)

According to the Select Joint Committee (1978) little attention

has been given to providing resources and support for school committees

even though evidence has shown that such supports improve the committee's

ability to function effectively (p. 232). It has been shown that if

committees are made to work in a vacuum, without provisions for staff

support, systematic information flow, operating budgets, or technical

assistance, it is more likely that the committees will fail than suc-

ceed (Davies, Clasby, & Powers, 1977). Both committee chairpersons

and principals require additional resources and support if committees

are to move beyond the level of token involvement (Select Joint Com-

mittee, 1978, pp. 258, 269). One of the steps suggested by the Select

Joint Committee (1978) to move to a new stage in the implementation of

legislation for school advisory committees was to provide "information

services and technical assistance to local advisory committees" (p.

290). Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) stated

that "in order to function effectively, councils must have resources

to strengthen their governance as well as their ability to take action

on specific problems" (p. 63).

In addition to receiving support from the school district or state,

school committees can provide resources for each other. This idea was

emphasized by Blumenberg and Marmion (1972) who described the formation

of school advisory committees in Long Beach, California. Blumenberg

and Marmion observed that

in addition to using the materials and training
skills of the program's ongoing consultant team,
each session drew on successful practitioners of
the community council movement from within the
district or from nearby LEA's [Local Education
Agencies]. (p. 45)

Training of committee members (including the school principal)

has been cited as a significant factor related to advisory committee

effectiveness. The Select Joint Committee (1978) indicated that without

in-service training, support, and resources for administrators and

citizens the level of committee involvement was likely to remain very

low (p. 269). Consequently the first indicator of committee access to

essential resources is that advisory committee members receive training

to develop leadership skills and effective group processes.

From several studies it has been found that there was a basic need

for training and information for committee chairmen and committee mem-

bers. From a study of advisory committees in three Florida school

districts Chinn (1975) concluded that one-fourth of the chairpersons

were not even familiar with the county plan for advisory committees or

with the limitations of the committee as defined by state statute and

board policy. Conclusions of case studies of Teacher Corps projects

(Winecoff, 1977) listed one of the serious problems facing new committees

as "lack of training and experience in collaboration and shared gover-

nance" (p. 109). Based on a study of advisory committees, Hamer (1977)

concluded that they required a full range of support services including

training about planning, organizing, and working with a group.

Kuykendall (1976) stated that "leadership development for parent

groups is both a necessity and a long-term commitment" (p. 5). She

believed that the training and development of good leaders was a

committee's insurance for achieving long term success. Along the

same line, Price (1977) wrote that

involved citizens aren't recruited, they're de-
veloped. Once some of the obstacles to citizen
involvement have been removed, a developmental
effort is necessary to provide the self-confidence,
knowledge, and skills a person needs to partici-
pate. Particularly important is the development

of citizen self-discovery--"That I can make a dif-
ference." Individual self-confidence leads to
group self-confidence, and in turn usually results
in community self-confidence. (p. 9)

Schools with successfully functioning advisory committees have

provided training for members. In Flint, Michigan, preservice and in-

service sessions have been held for community council chairpersons and

principals (McMillan, 1974). One of the goals of the parent council

working for Cambridge Alternative Public School was to provide more

training of parents for the committee's work (Solo, 1979).

Advisory committees require training in several areas. Many of

the areas suggested by writers can be grouped into two categories,

leadership skills and effective group processes. Ainsworth (1977)

stated that if the membership of a planning or advisory group was too

diverse help might be needed in group dynamics. If technical knowledge

was required for effective planning, committee members might also bene-

fit from lectures by experts in the field. Davies (1976) stated that

citizens asked to perform new roles need help beyond
information. They need training for specific skills,
including communication and planning and gathering
and analyzing data. They also need orientation to
specific settings and tasks. Of course, adminis-
trators and teachers also need training and
orientation if they are to be effective in new
relationships with parents and citizens. (p. 28)

A checklist was developed by Rosaler (Note 1) to help the advisory

committee assess its training needs and priorities. She listed seven

areas in which committees may need to develop knowledge or skill.

They are

1. Planning.
a. Establishing program priorities.
b. Setting realistic goals and objectives.
c. Developing activities and monitoring tech-

d. Finding and using resources.
e. Matching budget considerations with program
2. Participating in meetings.
a. Running effective meetings.
b. Making group decisions.
c. Using communication skills.
d. Coordinating actions with other groups.
3. Collecting information.
a. Using interviewing skills.
b. Using observation skills.
c. Making and using surveys.
d. Communicating effectively with written
4. Sorting and confirming information.
5. Recruiting school and classroom volunteers.
6. Classroom instruction.
a. Explaining textbooks and materials.
b. Explaining teaching methods.
c. Using aides and volunteers.
7. Training other people in any of the above.
(p. 58)

Roehm (1977), in a leadership training module for policy advisory

committees, developed parent leadership skills in the following

areas: 1) the order of business and how to make motions; 2) the

duties of officers, writing minutes, and writing agendas; and 3) the

election of officers and using bylaws. Jenkins (1976) suggested an

intensive short course for committee members which would touch on

"group process, decision making, school organization, the program

of studies, and prevalent state law and board policies" (p. 72).

Orientation to local school decision-making processes and leadership

development for committee members were areas of training needs indi-

cated by Blumenberg and Marmion (1972).

Not every committee has the same training needs. Several authors

(Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; Rosaler, Note 1, p. 41) have suggested the

use of a survey or needs assessment to determine the focus of preservice

and inservice training sessions. Information from a survey of committee


members' needs can be a guide for preparing an orientation or work-


Writers were not in agreement about which persons should conduct

the training sessions for advisory committees. In some school districts,

district personnel have been assigned to the task, while in others

outside consultants have been engaged. Specific situational factors

appear to influence each choice. For instance, Blumenberg and Marmion

(1972) wrote the following about orientation programs for committee

members in Long Beach, California:

When staff development and council training pro-
grams are indicated, outside consultants as
trainers can be neutral catalysts for insight and
conflict resolution. Whether they contract for
an entire series or serve as their particular
expertise is required, they bring to the process
both a broader perspective and a less emotionally
involved one. (p. 47)

On the other hand, Greenwood et al. (1977) indicated that

some school systems have employed "parent involve-
ment specialists to help SAC's get organized, to
conduct in-service training, and to facilitate
communication with parents, students, and the
school administration. (p. 13)

The second indicator of advisory committee access to essential

resources is that resources are provided at the school level so that

the committee can do its work (e.g., typing, duplicating equipment,

supplies, and meeting space).

Generally the resource demands of advisory committees have been

found to be reasonable. However, as Longstreth (1978) pointed out, a

committee does need some resources at its disposal. Some examples of

resource support Longstreth believed could contribute to the success

of council operations were

access to printing machines for reports, typing
services by the school secretarial staff, a budget
appropriation for transportation services for
advisory council meetings and for baby sitting
services at the school during such meetings. (p. 138)

Terrell (1977) contended that community groups needed to be given

a clear understanding of resources available to them. Such items, he

said, "should include personnel, space, equipment, budget and other

resources which the school will commit" (p. 17). Price (1977) speci-

fically named the school principal as the person responsible for pro-

viding adequate housing, supplies, and accommodations for committee


To function effectively, committees need human as well as material

resources. Personnel assigned at the district and state level can

provide human support for committee efforts. The third indicator of

the characteristic is that school district personnel are available to

help the committee carry out its activities.

From a study of school advisory committees conducted in 25 cities

and 249 school districts Stanwick (1975) concluded that generally

school administrators help coordinate advisory committee activities

and central office staff provide consultant assistance. Since the

support of the administrator is so important, Greenwood et al. (1977)

recommended that a parent involvement specialist be employed to assist

and help train both administrators and parents. The specialist would

also facilitate communication between the school administrator and

parents if there were problems in that area. In a notebook for Cali-

fornia school administrators, Olivero (1977) suggested that principals

and superintendents work with the district's public relations profes-

sional in determining what information advisory committees need.

Together they could determine whether this information was available

through normal public relations activities. Olivero (1977) recommended

asking the district public relations officer to

develop a briefing packet for advisory council
members on the budget, instructional activities,
legal constraints, alternatives to present in-
structional programs, etc. The public relations
person should work on keeping the advisory council
members up-to-date by providing consistent infor-
mation through newsletters, work with the media,
and other activities. (p. iv)

Chinn (1975) recommended that an administrative position be estab-

lished at the county level

in order to develop and present an orientation
program for each school in the district as well
as to advise and assist individual committees at
any time during the school year. (p. 103)

In the Flint, Michigan, school system the central administration's

inservice department provided leadership development and served as an

action and referral center for each council's requests for assistance

(McMillan, 1974). In a report of the Jacksonville Community Council

(1979) it was recommended that the school district provide staff support

for local school advisory committees. Blumenberg and Marmion (1972)

contended that contributions of time and talent by central office staff

to advisory committee development lent strength and legitimacy to the

effort. Arnold (1976) recommended that Atlanta Public Schools' ad-

ministrators and staff be involved as consultants in inservice pro-

grams for advisory committees (p. 205).

Because of their central position in the school system, personnel

in the district office can gain access to information and resources

that would facilitate communication between committees at different

schools. Blumenberg and Marmion (1972) noted that an important source

of information for committees can be other successful committees. The

fourth indicator of the characteristic then is that school district

personnel coordinate activities of all committees at different schools

and help them communicate with each other. Field interviews conducted

as part of the Select Joint Committee (1978) study confirmed that

advisory committee members

placed overwhelming emphasis on concrete and
specific information. They wanted examples,
outlines, material on what has worked elsewhere;
in short, they do not want to reinvent the wheel
everytime they become involved in a committee.
(p. 270)

Davies, Stanton, Clasby, Zerchykov, and Powers (1977) proposed

that committees could strengthen their ability to act effectively if

they participated in informal networks of groups both within the school

system and outside of it (p. 63). Davies, Clasby, and Powers (1977)

believed, in fact, that committees could not succeed without support

from professionals in the field or from previously established citizen

groups. Cox (1974) supported the same idea by recommending that

committee members visit committees in and out of the community to

determine different kinds of involvement and activities.

It would be useful to assign a persons) in the district the task

of coordinating the activities of committees and the communication flow

among them. Several writers (Blumenberg & Marmion, 1972; Chinn,

1975, p. 103; Greenwood et al., 1977) considered appointment of a dis-

trict coordinator as a crucial factor in the development of new committees.

There is need for positive, facilitating support for committees

at the state as well as at the local level. Davies (1976) advised


states, either through the legislature or the educa-
tion department or both, should provide financial
incentives and technical assistance to districts
wishing to decentralize and to develop school councils.
They should provide appropriate and economical ways
to provide information and consulting services to
citizens and citizens' groups. They should provide
financial support for efforts to develop imagina-
tive approaches to school-community collaboration,
using state controlled federal dollars as well as
state money. (p. 28)

The Select Joint Committee (1978) cited a report of the senate

education committee of the Florida legislature in which the establish-

ment of a statewide clearinghouse was proposed to facilitate dissemina-

tion of information to committees and to encourage communication between

them. The Select Joint Committee (1978) also reported a Florida depart-

ment of education recommendation following an evaluation of the data

returns for the first year of implementation of school advisory com-

mittees. The recommendation of the Florida department of education

stated that

if the Department of Education is to provide greater
support for school districts, it will require the
appointment of a full-time staff member to work
with these groups. The staff member would have
responsibility for meeting and working with school
advisory committees, disseminating information on
effectiveness of these committees, and conducting
training sessions for chairmen and other members
of school advisory committees. (p. 241)

These same recommendations were reemphasized and expanded in the

recommendations of the Select Joint Committee in 1978. It proposed

the following actions for building a state-level capacity for technical

assistance which would be rendered by a state-level citizens' group

rather than from the Florida department of education:

1. The legislature should establish, on a permanent
and active basis, a state citizens' advisory
committee on education and include among the

committee's responsibilities the encouragement
and monitoring of citizen advisory committees
at the district and school levels. . .
2. The state citizens' advisory committee should
be authorized, funded, and staffed to monitor
district and school advisory committees through
site visits to a sampling of about 10 percent
of these committees each year ..
3. The state citizens' advisory committee on edu-
cation should be authorized, funded, and staffed
to establish a citizen information service to
provide information and technical assistance
oriented to citizen needs and interests .
4. The state citizens' advisory committee should
be authorized, funded, and staffed to provide
small (from $500 to $5,000) committee improvement
grants to local advisory committees or to in-
dependent citizen organizations or other non-
profit groups proposing to provide training and
other forms of assistance to local advisory
committees. (pp. 292-293)

The Florida legislature has acted upon two of the recommendations.

First, the legislature expanded the role of the Florida education

council, a state-level citizens' group, to include responsibility for

citizen activity at the local level (F.S. 244.07). Within the Florida

education council, coordination of activities for local school advisory

committees is assigned to the chairman of the committee on citizen

participation. Second, the legislature initiated a program of state-

financed mini-grants to local and district councils (F.S. 229.59).

Finally, the Florida education council, through funding from various

foundations, published a newsletter about promising practices and

models of participation in Florida schools ("Florida Joins," 1980).

The Florida education council (and the committee on citizen par-

ticipation) assumed a greater role in focusing the commitment of state-

level leaders and encouraging local action with information and assis-

tance (Institute for Responsive Education, 1979). Since the Florida

education council could provide some important resources for the

development of committees the final indicator of advisory committee

access to essential resources is that the advisory committee obtains

information and technical assistance from the committee on citizen

participation, within the Florida department of education.

The Citizens' Advisory Committee Is One Component of a Total
Partnership System Encompassing Local, District, and State
Educational Agencies

Several authors (Davies, 1977; Gordon & Breivogel, 1976; Rosenberg,

1976; Ryan, 1976) have described the partnership between educators and

citizens. Rosenberg (1976) stated that

educators and citizens form an inseparable and un-
breakable partnership. These partners must be clear
about their roles as full and mutually supportive
partners in the education of their children. They
must be mutually very well informed about and agreed
upon goals, and upon means to achieve these goals.
(p. 142)

Ryan (1976) defined partnership as a collaborative process between

individuals with common goals, in which decision making is shared by

all who are concerned or affected by the decisions (p. 5). Collabora-

tion, according to Davies (1977), means more than dividing up power and

responsibility. He said that collaboration meant

sharing, a give-and-take process among school people
and citizens, a creative dialogue and debate, and
hopefully growth and learning by everybody involved.
It means learning that power does not need to be a
"zero sum game," that if parents "win" better schools,
nobody loses. (p. 4)

The idea of partnership between educators and citizens rests upon

two assumptions which were made explicit by the Select Joint Committee

(1978). First, the laws of a democratic society are shaped to allow

representation in the decisions of the government. Second, citizens'

organizations are important means for citizens to participate in de-

cision making and share authority with elected office holders and

professional administrators (p. 216).

Parents and teachers are only two of many groups at the local,

state, and federal levels concerned about decisions affecting education.

The effectiveness of any group will depend on its ability to work with,

rather than separately or against, other groups with similar objectives.

The highly effective group, as Likert (1961) described it, is not an

isolated entity. It is always conceived as being a part of a larger

organization. As a consequence, he said, "there are always linking

functions to be performed and relationships to other groups to be

maintained" (p. 165).

However, a weakness of many advisory committees is that they give

little attention to developing formal or informal communication channels

inside or outside the school. As the Select Joint Committee (1978)

stated, "they tend to function in a vacuum without links to other

school groups, the community, to groups in the state" (p. 274). The

Select Joint Committee believed that even minimal assistance in this

area could lead to substantial improvement.

Arnold (1976) stressed the importance of developing a team rela-

tionship among administrators, professional and classified staff,

students, parents, and citizens (p. 5). The initiative for developing

such a relationship should be taken at the state level Gittell (1977)

contended. She said that since education is a state function, the

politics of participation may be best served at that level. She sup-

ported her contention with the following rationale:

The setting of educational goals and minimum standards
(the states' major function) is a process which
ultimately encompasses all districts and schools.
The participatory process could be institutionalized
to engage all segments of the state community from
the individual school unit to the local or neighbor-
hood district to the city-wide district level. The
involvement of citizens representing each of these
units in the state decision making process can
potentially produce significant changes in local
processes. Participation could be built with its
base at the individual school level and move up the
system. Input should be as broadly based as possible
and include professionals, state and city bureau-
crats and teachers, public officials and a broad
representation of clients and citizens. This kind
of process would guarantee that state wide policies
reflect local interests and be responsive to
accumulated local needs but would also assure a
continuing role for these participants on a local
level. (p. 19)

If the local school advisory committee is to enjoy a collaborative

relationship with educators, administrators, and policy makers, it must

develop open lines of communication with groups at all levels of the

educational community. The five indicators of the characteristic

describe elements of such a communications network.

The first indicator is that the LESAC regularly communicates with

all the groups represented by committee members, including the school

staff and the school principal. If diverse groups of people are to

work together successfully for common objectives, a free exchange of

information must regularly pass between groups. When there is an

established forum for talking together, for giving and receiving infor-

mation, then parents, teachers, students, and other citizens can bring

together both their concerns and their expertise to deal with the needs

of children and schools in colleagueship (Ryan, 1976, p. 17).

Some techniques to help advisory committees communicate with

groups they represent were listed in several sources (Arnold, 1976,

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs