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Democratic school leadership in Canada's public school systems: professional value and social ethic

Paul T. Begley (Department of Education Policy Studies, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, USA)
Lindy Zaretsky (York Region District School Board, Toronto, Ontario, California, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



Democratic leadership processes are desirable for schools not only because they reflect socially mandated ethical commitments to collective process. They can be professionally justified as a necessary approach to leading schools effectively in the increasingly culturally diverse communities and a world transformed by the effects of technology and the forces of globalization. Rational professional justifications for democratic leadership in schools include the nature of the school leadership role, the social contexts of the communities, as well as an ideological social mandate. A body of existing theory and research is used to illustrate that rational processes prevail as the primary influences on decision‐making by educational leaders. The appropriateness of rationalized democratic processes for schools is demonstrated by discussing the findings of recently completed research on school‐based interactions between school principals and parent advocates engaged in negotiating the educational needs of students with exceptionalities. Parent advocates were found to intentionally use democratic process to promote value confrontations and conflicts as a deliberate strategy aimed at transforming attitudes and practices in school administration specific to special education processes.



Begley, P.T. and Zaretsky, L. (2004), "Democratic school leadership in Canada's public school systems: professional value and social ethic", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 640-655.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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