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Schools as Bureaucracies

Attention to the ways that schools function as organizations is essential for understanding the complex processes and outcomes of formal schooling. Schools are not only places where children go to learn and develop; they are also places where teachers and administrators go to work and carry out the tasks of instruction. Like most people's work environments, schools operate as bureaucracies that share key characteristics: (1) schools are hierarchical in their structure, (2) schooling activities are governed by codified rules and procedures, and (3) school personnel work within a division of labor. Though schools function bureaucratically, they are also situated within wider institutional and societal environments in ways that both enable and constrain what people within schools do in the course of their daily activities. This ...

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