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Authority and power in the governance of public education: a study of the administrative structure of the British Columbia education system Woodrow, James

Abstract

The education system of British Columbia is constituted by statute. The constitutional statute is called the Public Schools Act (1972). The Public Schools Act Regulations are part of the Act. This Act names various officials (constituents). The constituents include the Minister of Education, the Deputy Minister of Education, Provincial and District Superintendents, Teachers, Principals, Trustees and such persons as may be required to give effect to the provisions of the Act. If it is assumed that the term administration refers to acts of governing, controlling, inducing co-operation and similar kinds of acts, then it may be the case that many constituents of the British Columbia education system engage at least periodically in some form of administrative action. Each constituent that acts administratively has some authority and/or power over someone or something. This capacity may be regarded as a basis of many administrative relationships among the education system's constituents. The Public Schools Act establishes what kinds of authority and degrees of power each constituent has. Without a careful examination of the statutory provisions of the Act, the kinds of legal administrative authority and the degrees of power of the system's constituents cannot be determined. The central problem of the study is to determine the kinds of statutory administrative authority and power of the constituents of the British Columbia educational system. The problem is approached by establishing the nature of the political context within which the administration of education takes place; and by analyzing the statutory documents governing education in British Columbia. The study sets out the many statutorily posited relationships of constituents, and concludes that there is a strong parallel between political and administrative action and that administration in education cannot be fully appreciated without attention to the political context of provincial government which is the source and operating environment of public education.

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