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La Educación
Número: (118) II
Año: 1994

Concluding Comments

Learning the mechanisms and techniques of organizing and managing the institutions of a newly formed democracy is a process that takes time. New structures of governance must be created, new forms of citizen participation initiated, and new administrative mechanisms formulated. In the Spanish educational system, the theory behind one important aspect of educational reform is based on the decentralization of authority to local governing bodies. The creation of School Councils has become the means through which democratization and administrative development have been instituted and linked at the local level.

In the first seven years (1985-1992) since the introduction of School Councils in all the public and private schools in the nation, a noticeable gap between theory and practice emerged. The School Councils failed to achieve a high degree of influence in administering the schools they were supposed to govern.

In addition, the number of teachers willing to run for the elected office of school principal declined at an alarming rate. By 1992 less than half of the public schools in the nation had an elected principal. The rest had to be appointed by higher authorities. Clearly, there were several areas that could be improved upon in the decentralization effort.

In that context, there are many Spanish educators who argue that the gap between the theory and practice of school-based management can be reduced significantly. Through innovations such as introducing meaningful incentives for attracting teachers to run for office, establishing requirements for administrative training, opening up the election process to qualified candidates from any school, and delegating additional power to the School Councils, important progress can be made.

Observing the progress of reform through the end of the decade will be important in determining whether the gap between theory and practice can be reduced significantly. In other words, is the promise of democratization and development at the local level to be fulfilled? The Spanish experience is important for other nations that are watching. There are few models of educational change on the scale introduced in Spain. Only time will tell if the “Miracle of Spain” will take root at the local school level.