School Level Implementation: Charter School Reform “On the Ground”

  • Jeanne M. Powers
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Urban Education book series (PSUE)


In this chapter I focus on implementation in charter schools by examining how the principles outlined in the three case study schools’ charters were enacted in daily practices at each school. I use the concepts organizational structure and school culture as anchors for the analysis and to facilitate comparison across the three schools. In the two chapters that follow, I move beyond features of school organization to further develop an issue I touch upon throughout the analyses presented in this chapter—how organizational structures and school cultures are shaped, and in some cases reshaped, by features of the schools’ policy context, that is, state and district policies. Organizations are commonly defined as a collection of social relationships consciously formed and maintained for the purpose of accomplishing one or more goals (Selznick, 1948; Stinchcombe, 1965) .1 The term organizational structure draws attention to the regular features of school life—how instruction (the type of curriculum being taught and the technology of teaching), governance (the distribution of power), and resources are organized within a school. School culture highlights the importance of the collective nature of organizational life—the complex chemistry of social interactions and social structures that creates a community ethos that is more than the sum of its parts.


Staff Member Charter School School Culture Bilingual Education Policy Talk 
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© Jeanne M. Powers 2009

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  • Jeanne M. Powers

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