What is Governance?
- The governance is how decisions are made at the school, who has responsibility and authority, and how we arrive at decisions.
- Governance is the term for the way a group of people does things.
Because our organization is not hierarchical, governance especially depends on healthy interpersonal and intergroup relationships. To promote healthy relationships, it is important to understand, collectively, our mission, vision, values, and goals as a school community.
We intentionally embrace shared, collaborative governance not only because it is effective, but also because it helps our community to evolve and grow. We invite every member of our school community to join the conversation by reflecting on this document, offering any ideas, comments, or other responses that you wish to offer and then engaging in the many avenues for volunteering (parent council, as a room parent, committees, and events).
Three governing entities assume distinct governance responsibilities and strive for consensus on major policy decisions. This system of shared governance supports the development of a strong, healthy community from which students learn and grow.
What is the makeup of AWS?
- COLLABORATION AND SHARED RESPONSIBILITY PROVIDE THE FOUNDATIONS OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE.
- Waldorf schools are self-administered. Faculty, staff, and the board share responsibility for guiding and leading the school in the following manner:
- The faculty develop the educational program under the guidance of the pedagogical leadership of the school.
- Administrative activities further the educational program.
- The board works strategically to enable legal and financial health to realize the mission and vision of the school.
- Governance of the school is structured and implemented in a manner that both cultivates collaboration and is effective.
What is the role of parents?
Bill further discussed the work the committee has been doing in updating the Governance Policy including the creation of the Decision-Making Matrix to document the responsibilities of the three realms of AWS Leadership.
He also shared the following excerpt from chapter 3 in Partnerships of Hope: Building Waldorf School Communities by Christopher Schaffer.
Three principles emerge about self-administration:
- Schools must be free of state control as part of a free cultural life
- teachers must be centrally involved in the running of the school and in decision making
- the school should be organized along republican principles in which teachers are equal but delegate specific responsibilities to individuals and committees.
Then as now the two great dangers of republican self-administration in Waldorf schools are
- individuals and groups who have been given specific mandates or responsibilities are not allowed to do their job, being interfered with or criticized by the full faculty or Board, and the opposite,
- that those chosen for positions of responsibility or who volunteer for them become a de facto oligarchy, building up their power at the expense of the teacher circle
The Parent Council
In my experience it works most effectively when it sees its role as primarily building and strengthening the whole school community. it supports the teachers and school through:
- providing class parents who assist the class teachers
- communicating issues of parent concern to the faculty
- conducting all-school meetings or forums on diverse topics
- Typically it will also be involved in the Winter Fair and other school benefits.
However the school needs to be careful not to turn the Parent Council into a fundraising arm, as this can undermine its essential communicating and community-building role.