Decentralization and equity : a phenomenological study of how district leaders experience site-based management and perceive it to impact low-income and minority youth
Nearly three decades after it became a leading reform effort in education, decentralization – broadly defined as the transfer of decision-making from central administrations to campuses – is still a prominent practice in school districts across the country. Studies have been conducted on its impact, particularly in the areas of student achievement and principal and teacher morale. However, there is a limited understanding of how senior district administrators experience decentralization and perceive it to impact on equity. The latter of these is especially important given that some of the districts where decentralization is still a defining practice have sizeable populations of economically disadvantaged students. Through a phenomenological approach, this study examines the experiences of a group of senior leaders in a large urban school district in the southern United States and impact they perceive decentralization to have on low-income and minority students.