UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A political systems approach to the study of demands on an urban school board Brayne, Robin Charles


This study was concerned with the identification of the properties of formal demands made of one urban school board during a nine-month period from January 1977 to August 1977. Within the framework of Easton's (1957; 1965) theoretical approach to the study of political activity, the study attended to five specific purposes. The first purpose was to describe the substantive nature or topic of formal demands made of the school board during the nine-month period. The second purpose was to determine what action was expected by the school board in their responses to these formal demands. The third purpose was to identify what individuals or groups were responsible for articulating, or bringing to the attention of the school board, these formal demands. The fourth purpose was Jto identify relationships between the nature of formal demands and the articulators of these demands. The final purpose was to estimate, using the properties, of formal demands, the openness or closedness of the school board. Data for the study were collected from the official minutes and agendas of the Pacific School District's thirteen formal meetings held during the period from January 1977 to August 1977. The formal demands were all items on these agendas for which action by the school board was expected. Using variations of typologies developed by Ziegler, Tucker, and Wilson (1977), Almond (1965), and Almond (1960), each formal demand was classified according to topic, type (expected action), and articulation structure respectively. The major findings of the study may be summarized as follows: 1. The Pacific School Board received 164 formal demands during the nine-month period. 2. Most of these formal demands were extractive, that is calling for the provision, by the school board, of particular goods and services. 3. Most of the formal demands related to the business affairs of the school district and personnel management. These business affairs consisted of the school district's financial affairs and physical plant. The personnel management demands concerned the assignment of teaching staff. 4. Most formal demands were articulated by the school district's senior administrative officials. 5. Most formal demands of the school board were routine, that is, occurring in much the same form from agenda to agenda. The typical routine formal demand involved the school district's business affairs, was extractive, and was articulated by the school district's senior administrative officials. 6. Typically, non-routine formal demands, that is, demands that had not been encountered in quite the same form during the period of observation, were either related to the district's business affairs or school programs and student services. 7. Actors other than the school district's senior administrators were more active in the advancement of non-routine demands than in the making of routine demands. 8. When all formal demands were used as the criterion, the school board is relatively closed. When routine demands are used the : school board is very closed. When routine demands are excluded from the data, the school board is relatively open, that is, in receipt of demands from individuals and groups from outside the school system. Based on the findings of the study, different individuals or groups (actors) appeared to be associated, with qualitatively different demands. For this reason, the Pacific School Board is neither open nor closed. Rather, it is closed in some respects and open in others. The basic image of the school board was that of receiving, for the most part, routine demands from the senior administration. This image is interrupted only occasionally by non-routine demands from actors outside the school system. The lack of demands for participation in the decisional activities of the school board suggested that, for whatever reasons, there is no overt dissatisfaction on the part of the citizenry, with this image.

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