Organization and Bureaucratization:
Strengths, Weaknesses and Risks
The organization of schooling in the United States has been a topic of great controversy for many years. We compare ourselves to other nations weighing the pros and cons of alternative organization of education. We see the benefits of the centralized school system used in many developed European and Asian nations, but we are hesitant to move from the decentralized school system we currently have in fear that we will change elements in our system so that, "the cost of remedying the weaknesses of U.S. Education may be in the risk of undermining what have been historically regarded as it's greatest strengths" (Hurn, 1993, p.29). I will discuss the strong and weak components of a decentralized school system like that of the United States and its differences from a centralized school system. Furthermore, we evaluate the diversity in education within or own nation. Our schools as organizations are bureaucracies. Bureaucratization of American schooling began in the nineteenth century (Ballantine, 1993, p. 159). Although Bureaucracy can be described as "a rational, efficient way of completing tasks and rewarding individuals based on their contributions" (Ballantine, 1993, p.154), Bureaucracy has its weaknesses. Urban Schools are suffering under this organization of schooling, and "sick bureaucracy" (Ballantine, 1993, p. 161) is emerging. The hierarchy and rules and regulations of a bureaucracy are often mistaken as the same idea of centralization. However, centralization is only one component of a bureaucracy that may or may not be present within the organization. It is the great diversity in our schools that perpetuate the grand debate about schooling and education as a bureaucracy in the United States.
Decentralization vs. Centralization One of the ways that schools in the United States are different than much of the rest
References: Ballantine, J.H. (1993). The School as an Organization. The Sociology of Education, pp. 146-170. Crosby, E.A. (1999). Urban Schools: Forced to Fail. NO, 18, pp. 333-342. Hurn, C.J. (1993) The Organization of U.S. Education. The Limits and Possibilities of Schooling, pp. 22-29.