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Since its inception in the late 1700s public schools in America have undergone many changes Thomas Jeffersons goal of state-supported educational systems is now a reality which extends beyond a basic elementary school in each community to offer secondary schooling to all Americans This widespread free public education for all is not without its critics Education reform movements trace back as early as the 1820s when changes in the economy spurred by westward expansion immigration and urbanization called upon schools to create a nationalist spirit and help socialize new Americans into the culture Tozer Violas Senese 2002 Change continues to be a part of American education Lewins change theory and systems thinking and learning are two change theories discussed in current literature The first theory the Lewinian Approach is a Human Relations theory Lewins as cited in Duffy 2004 theory stated that in order to change a system people must first visualize the desired organizational framework After assessing the goals the organization compares them to the organizations current state looking for gaps between the two Finally they develop a change plan composed of long-range and short-term goals that will move their system toward those goals Lewins approach also suggests involving workers in the decision making process to promote greater acceptance of the changes Marion 2002 Duffy 2004 challenges Lewins system stating that a school systems complexity makes a straightforward theory such as Lewins impossible to implement Duffys logic is that if change leaders in school systems assume that the strategic path from the present to the future is relatively straightforward when the actual path is winding then people engaged in systemic change soon will be off the true path and lost p 317 The non-linear nature of large and diverse school systems best operates under an opens-systems theory rather than the closed-system Lewinian theory In spite of its obvious drawbacks schools utilize much of Lewins original theory when implementing change For example gaining stakeholder
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