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La Educación
Número: (118) II
Año: 1994

The Practice of School-Based Management: 1985-1992

Elections for school principals and members of the local School Councils began during the 1985-86 school year. Interest in the School Councils ran high among school teachers. Ninety-five percent of the teachers participated in the voting while 66 percent of them ran for Council positions. The teachers wanted to put themselves in a position of maximum influence on the governing body of the school.

Parents, on the other hand, were not nearly so eager to participate in the new governance process. While 45 percent of the parents voted in the first elections, only 4.4 presented themselves as candidates for Council positions.25

Perhaps the most peculiar aspect of the start of the school-based management process was observed in the elections of school principals in the 10 Autonomous Communities still under the control of the Ministry of Education26 (see Table 1). In 36 percent of the cases the School Councils were unable to elect a school principal, mainly because there were no teachers willing to be candidates for election.27 In cases such as these, provincial or regional educational leaders had to appoint a school principal for a one-year term. Then “off year” elections were held and another attempt was made to elect a principal. Most of these schools belonged to General Elementary level (grades 1-8).


When the second election cycle for school principals was held in 1988-89, 46 percent of the schools appointed rather than elected their principals. By the third election cycle (1991-92) their number had climbed to 53 percent.28 The pattern established was that fewer General Elementary schools (grades 1-8) elected principals than Academic Secondary Schools (grades 9-12) or Vocational Secondary Schools (grades 11-13). Also, during the 1991-92 elections only 10 percent of the parents voted, which was considerably down from the 45 percent that voted in the first School Council election in 1985-86.

In 1990 the State School Council (Consejo Escolar del Estado) declared the situation of appointed rather than elected principals “a grave problem.” In its report, the State School Council urged the Ministry of Education and Science “to adopt as an urgent priority measures that, once and for all, will solve this alarming situation.”29 In 1993 the State School Council addressed its concern about the deteriorating situation stating that “it is evident that the democratization of school principal elections is not being supported by those individuals who inherently should be assuming the responsibility.”30