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Understanding the Community


... two-way communication is taking place between the public and the ... Social Inventory Sources of Information. School records (Family Rights and Privacy Act) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Understanding the Community

Understanding the Community
  • EDUG 543

School-Community Relations (Public Relations)
  • Duty of the school district to furnish taxpayers
    with complete, accurate and understandable
    information regarding its needs and activities
    and to use the information to develop educational
    policies and programs that reflect popular
    interests and desires. It includes the
    involvement and participation of citizens in the
    educational decision making process.

School-Community Relations (Public Relations)
  • A systematic function of all levels of a school
    system, established as a program to improve and
    maintain optimal level of student achievement and
    to build public support (Holiday).
  • Foster student achievement through the
    establishment of a positive school climate and
    parent and citizen involvement.
  • Building citizen knowledge and understanding
    leading to financial support

Public Opinion
  • Any widespread beliefs, attitudes or consensus
    arrived at by members of one or more groups, or
    prevailing customs and traditions handed down by
    past generations.
  • Public opinion is a collection of individual
    viewpoints held more or less in common by members
    of a group regarding some person, condition or

Public Relations Models
  • Press agentry/publicity
  • One-way communication with propaganda
  • 15 of all schools
  • Public information
  • One-way dissemination of truthful information
  • 50 of all schools
  • Two-way asymmetric
  • Scientific persuasion with the intent of two-way
  • Communicator gets feedback from the public and
    then applies the latest communication and
    persuasion theories to persuade the public to
    accept the organization's point of view
  • 20 of all schools

Public Relations Models
  • Two-way symmetrical communication
  • Communicator is the go-between for the
    organization and the public
  • Communicator uses all methods of communication
    available to attempt to get all parties
    point-of-view to be understood
  • If persuasion takes place between any parties, it
    is because two-way communication is taking place
    between the public and the organization
  • Used by 15 of all schools

Understanding the Community
  • Social Inventory
  • Helps district know who makes up the community
  • Know the power structures
  • Interrelations among individuals with vested
    interest who have the ability to control other
    people, obtain their conformity, or command their
  • Measure public opinion
  • Measure attitudes of all vested parties
  • Taxpayers. Parents, teachers students
  • Electronic Polling
  • Professionally conducted
  • Web site
  • Telephone surveys

Social Inventory

Social Inventory
  • Customs and traditions
  • Ideas, attitudes and habits of people
  • Folkways, mores and lifestyles
  • Race, religion, nationality background, economics
    and social class structure

Population Characteristics
  • Education attainment, age, sex occupation,
    nationality, race and religion
  • Often used for stratifying a random sample
  • Good estimate of community reaction to a proposal
  • Education attainment by category
  • Elementary, secondary, trade school, associates
    degree, bachelors degree, masters degree and
  • Age distribution by category
  • Judges the vitality of the community
  • Younger population has more educational demands
  • Older population has greater tax concerns
  • Sex distribution by category

Population Characteristics
  • Occupation Info
  • Used to check population stability
  • Changing opportunities
  • Distribution of occupation classes
  • Nationality, race and religion
  • Helps with understanding of community
  • Analyzing social tension and conflict

Communication Channels
  • Since public opinion takes place through the
    exchange of ideas and information, schools must
    know what communication channels exist in the
  • Which channels are used most extensively
  • Which channels reach different segments of the
  • Television, radio and newspapers
  • Clubs, organizations, religious pulpits, labor

Community Groups
  • School must know the purpose and program of
    community groups
  • Community organizations
  • Groups that are highly involved in schools but do
    not focus on education students
  • Taxpayers Federation Taxation
  • Homeowner associations
  • Groups supporting education
  • Retired teachers association
  • PTOs
  • Special interest groups
  • Promote philosophical positions
  • Prayer, textbook adoption, pro life

  • Formal and informal
  • Mayor with a subordinate leader
  • Local legislator is decision maker for a mayoral
  • Recognize leaders of community groups and
  • They have influenced on attitudes and opinions of
  • Leader information
  • Personal backgrounds, family connections, group
    affiliations, business interests, fraternal
    memberships, political convictions, special
    competencies and attitudes toward public

  • Economic conditions
  • Ability to pay
  • Increased taxes
  • Increased fees
  • Political structure
  • Mayoral/aldermanic
  • City manager/City council
  • Social tensions

Social Inventory Sources of Information
  • School records (Family Rights and Privacy Act)
  • Family members, addresses, occupations
  • Board of Education minutes
  • City directories and telephone books
  • Voter registration
  • Bureau of the Census
  • Historical societies
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Newspaper files
  • Community efforts, social tensions,leaders
    accomplishments, group conflicts
  • Personal interviews and surveys

Power Structures

Elite Power Model
  • Pyramidal community power structure
  • Elite group represents industrial, commercial and
    financial interests of community

Power Concentration
Lower Echelons
Pluralistic and Amorphous Power
  • Pluralistic
  • Similar to elite except more than one pyramidal
    structure exists in a community
  • Different issues are handled by different groups
    based on their attitudes and opinions
  • Amorphous
  • Found in rural areas
  • Power is absent or latent
  • Resembles a situation where those in power
    maintain the status quo

General Characteristics of Power Structure
  • Controlled by people who try to shape community
    decision in ways that protect or advance their
    own interests
  • Usually sincerely concerned with the well being
    of the community especially economic interests
  • Usually aligned with political groups
  • Use reward and punishments to influence decisions

Opinion Research

Uses of Opinion Research
  • Determine how people get information about
  • Learn about perceived quality of schools and the
    criterion used
  • To determine if a proposal will be controversial
  • To discover if a shift in public opinion is
    taking place
  • To learn the goals and aspirations of parents and
    citizens concerning schools
  • Reveal areas of improvement desired by the
  • Gain information about opponents of a tax
    referendum or a bond issue

Types of Opinion Research
  • Quantitative (formal) (scientific) (probability)
  • Can be applied to the entire population
  • Statistical random sampling
  • The normative or parametric distribution sampling
    of the population is of utmost importance
  • Emphasizes methodology
  • Qualitative (informal) (unscientific)
  • Can not be applied to the entire population
  • The formative answers of the opinion research
    tools are of utmost important
  • Emphasizes feelings of respondents
  • Triangulation is important

Types of Opinion Research
  • Forums and conferences
  • Selected topics e.g.. taxes
  • Panel of experts
  • State their position
  • Audience then responds with comments or questions
  • Note Audience response time should be limited to
    an amount of time. This amount can be repeated
  • Forums are difficult to defend as quantitative

Types of Opinion Research
  • Advisory Committee
  • Selected group of laypeople
  • Cross section of the community
  • Express the needs of the community
  • Recommendations are not binding
  • Practical method for determining attitudes
  • Sometimes difficult to defend since the method is
    difficult to regulate and duplicate

Types of Opinion Research
  • Panels (focus panels) (ad hoc or continuous)
  • Panel is interviewed by trained members of the
    school staff
  • Ad hoc
  • Panel members either individually or as a group
    are interviewed before a change is announced and
    then after a change occurs.
  • Continuous
  • Panel members are interviewed individually
  • Interviews are informal and open ended questions
    are used
  • No written material due to informality of
  • Highlights are recorded in private by the
  • Can be emotional over time
  • Found to be statistically reliable if done
  • Good method for bringing out and analyzing causes
    for changes of opinion

Types of Opinion Research
  • Four types of public opinion surveys
  • Most precise and statistically accurate if done
  • Personal interview
  • Usually greatest validity and reliability
  • Telephone interview
  • Most widely used
  • Mailed questionnaire
  • Lowest returns
  • Drop off/pick up questionnaire
  • More expensive than mailed version
  • See page 29 for advantages of the different types
    of surveys

Surveying Sampling
  • Must be done randomly
  • 400 properly identified samples can be applied to
    a large population if done accurately (within a
    predictable 5 margin of error)
  • Normality testing
  • Random Number Charts
  • Stratified sampling
  • Gallup survey is done with 1600 individuals with
    a margin of error of 2.5
  • If your determining public opinion on school
    uniforms a 95 level of confidence and a margin
    of error of 5 is usually acceptable
  • If your launching a space shuttle a 99.9 level
    of confidence and a margin of error of 1.0 may
    be needed
  • Confidence level means the number of times the
    results you have gathered may have occurred by
    chance alone.
  • Margin of error is directly related to the size
    and normal distribution level of your sample

Formulating Questionnaires
  • Two types - Open ended vs. closed ended
  • No answers vs. answers
  • Guidelines
  • Be concise
  • Use words and language people understand
  • Worth of property vs. equalized assessed
  • Soda, sodi or pop?
  • Structure questions with exact information for
  • How long have you lived in Chicago
  • Not an open ended question
  • 1-5 years, 6-10 years,….
  • Avoid leading questions
  • I your taxes were lowered, would you vote for…
  • Avoid double barreled questions
  • Do you own a car or do you ride the bus? _ Yes _
  • Always pretest

Questionnaire Design
  • Introduction
  • Brief description of surveys purpose
  • Survey sponsor
  • Instructions on completion and return (if
  • No threatening or provoking questions
  • Main Section
  • Opinion questions that deal with the basic
    problems of which the school is concerned
  • Questions should be in a sequence that promotes a
    logical thought process
  • Conclusion
  • Open ended questions to initiate unanticipated
  • Demographic question
  • Age, sex, length of residency, of students in
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