The Long Struggle to Turn around an Inhumane, Corrupt, Paramilitary School Specialized for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (pp. 39-72)
Authors: (Joachim Broecher, University of Flensburg, Flensburg, Germany)
Abstract: This case study examines a series of events that took place in West Germany at a
specialized school for students with emotional and social needs. It focuses on a struggle
lasting several years that was waged in this school and its environment to put an end to an
inhumane, corrupt, paramilitary leadership, school culture and pedagogy. Some one
thousand pages of text as well as media contributions from both TV and radio were
evaluated and supplemented with interviews for the study. Analysis of these materials
reveals the tight linkage between professional incompetence, human character deficits,
intrigues, power struggles and micropolitical processes in a school and among the
authorities supervising it. Additionally, it illustrates the shortcoming in German education
law, which makes scant provision for firing professionally unqualified individuals from
school administrative positions. Further, the detailed change strategies deployed are
distilled into an effective overall change strategy that relies on highly principled and
action-oriented individuals inside the school working together with the same type of
individual outside the school. Ultimately, after some 5 ½ years, it succeeded in removing
the principal from office thus clearing the way for long-overdue pedagogical reforms.
The implications of these findings are relevant to pre-service teacher training, leadership
preparation programs, continuing professional development as well as potential revision
of administrative procedures relating to the appointment and removal of school
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