The Atlanta Public Schools (APS) environment faces considerable difficulties nowadays. The reason is that the existing material and professional resources are used irrationally, and the quality of students’ education is very low. Therefore, innovative educational reforms are necessary. The current paper examines the effectiveness and applicability of the “Four Jobs” concept to the APS conditions. The major strengths and weaknesses of this strategy will be outlined. The correct implementation of the ideas developed in the “Four Jobs” concept may contribute to solving the most urgent problems in the APS environment.
Implementation of the “Four Jobs” Concept
The ultimate results generated by any educational reform depend substantially on the following two factors. The first one is the ability to select the correct method for addressing the most urgent current educational problems and needs. If the correct approach is determined, it increases the likelihood of positive and effective decisions. The second one is the correct application of the selected method. As the same approaches may be implemented differently, the ultimate results may be also non-identical. McDonald (2014) believed that the fiascos of a large number of previous reforms were caused both by the inability to select the correct theoretical approach and failure to implement it consistently. Thus, it is possible to examine the essence of the “Four Jobs” concept.
It consists of several stages contributing to the corresponding stages in the educational reform process. The first one is reframing; it means that all stakeholders should realize the ultimate purposes of the initiated reforms and the groups its serves (McDonald, 2014). If it is understood, then the reformers can select the most appropriate means for meeting their objectives. In general, reframing is necessary for ensuring the proper understanding of the ultimate goals and appropriate means by all stakeholders.
The second element is arguments; it means that all objectives and the corresponding selected means should be supported by the corresponding logical arguments. It will prevent reformers from relying on the unsupported claims and proposals. Thus, their actions and choices can be more rational and effective especially in the long run. The third element is the action or positive changes that can be generated with the help of available resources (McDonald, 2014). The reformers should be realistic in assessing their possibilities. In this way, they can allocate resources properly and determine specific objectives and goals.
The fourth element is connections between all stakeholders and aspects of the reform. In fact, all aspects should be integrated properly in a way that generates maximum possible social and educational effect. As increasing the quality of students’ knowledge is the main priority (especially for APS), this major goal should determine the structure of secondary objectives. It seems that the “Four Jobs” concept can be applied to the APS conditions because it presents the most systematic understanding of the existing problems and the potential solutions. Currently, there is a lack of common understanding among APS reformers about the methods and means necessary for achieving a sustainable improvement in the long run.
Therefore, reframing is applicable and relevant for APS professionals. All stakeholders should comprehend that APS should serve both students and the entire community. On the one hand, students demonstrate the effectiveness of education. On the other hand, the effective educational process contributes to the development of the entire community as its members become more knowledgeable and productive (Buerger, & Harris, 2015). Thus, mutually beneficial arrangements and social changes may emerge.
Another current problem is lack of motivation and rational comprehension of the actions performed by different members of the APS environment. Many administrators and teachers just follow the existing formal requirements without understanding its relevance and significance. Moreover, they often neglect individual differences among students and do not introduce the latest available technologies. For this reason, the introduction of the logical arguments can increase the awareness of all stakeholders. It may lead to the development of rational and mutually beneficial discussions based on logical arguments and ideas. It is highly important for APS, as the optimal decisions cannot be found without the corresponding logical support.
In relation to the action space, a substantial misunderstanding among APS professionals still exists. In particular, many of them believe that it is possible to solve almost all problems at once and substitute the current inefficient system with a new one. However, actual experience demonstrates that such radical transitions are highly problematic under the current conditions with stable and inflexible institutions. Therefore, there is a need for developing another approach that will contribute to the gradual transition to the desired model (Green, 2015). The “Four Jobs” concept allows determining the actual action space and executing corresponding actions supported by the objective analysis.
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The situation with connections should also be improved in relation to the APS environment because all schools and units should be integrated into a single and effective educational system. It is necessary to encourage competition among them, since it will contribute to a more rapid progress of the entire educational sphere (Windle, 2014). Although the level of competition may increase dramatically, all stakeholders should comprehend that their interests are complementary. It means that it is possible to create the system that will address the needs of all people involved.
At the same time, the selection of the “Four Jobs” concept does not guarantee the expected results. The reason is that this approach has to be applied correctly as well as adjusted to the local conditions (Green, 2015). In this case, the optimal decisions will contribute to the desired results. The reformers should also consider all available risks and threats. One of the major threats is associated with stakeholders’ resistance to change. Therefore, they may not be open to changing their current behavioral patterns according to the reformers’ expectations.
The correct assessment of all risks and threats is necessary to adjust the initial plan for educational reforms. It should become more flexible and oriented at the current external and internal conditions (Henderson, Howell, & Peterson, 2014). Moreover, the optimal decisions should be evaluated from the perspective of all stakeholders rather than the reformers. In general, the “Four Jobs” concept allows arriving at mutually beneficial decisions with a much higher probability than alternative frameworks. At the same time, the close coordination of all parties involved is needed.
Thus, it is possible to formulate the major strengths and weaknesses of applying the “Four Jobs” concept to the APS environment. The major strengths include the systematic approach oriented at the needs of all stakeholders; the balance between the short- and long-term goals; and the correct assessment of the action space. Thus, the “Four Jobs” concept makes the implementation of educational reforms more consistent and effective (McDonald, 2014). The major weaknesses include difficulties with specifying all existing risks in advance, the need for adjusting the framework for the local conditions, and the possible resistance to change among stakeholders.
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However, the objective evaluation of strengths and weaknesses proves that the former is higher than the latter. The reason is that the consistent applications of the ideas presented in the “Four Jobs” concept can allow achieving a much more preferable state of affairs in comparison with the current one. Moreover, all weaknesses and risks may be addressed effectively if the proper planning strategies are used. This approach requires paying additional attention to planning and examining all corresponding risks and threats (Windle, 2014). It is reasonable to develop several alternative scenarios to create structures that are more flexible. In relation to people’s resistance to change, it is necessary to create the corresponding system of incentives that will encourage them to be more open to innovations. They should perceive innovations as additional opportunities rather than threats. In general, rationally structured reforms may lead to the desired results in the long run.
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In general, current situation in the educational APS environment is associated with numerous problems. Both students and teachers are unmotivated and cannot realize their full potential. For this reason, the urgent and effective reforms should be implemented. The provided analysis demonstrates that the “Four Jobs” concept offers the optimal framework for organizing the needed process in the most effective way. The existence of several stages allows achieving the optimal specialization for all reformers and stakeholders. Moreover, the approach enables identifying the most serious problems and solving them properly.
Although some weaknesses and difficulties also exist, they can be minimized if additional efforts toward planning are made. In this way, the APS reformers can allocate the available resources properly and contribute to the sustainable development of the community. Thus, the interests of students and other community members should be viewed as a major priority. The significance of other objectives can be evaluated from the perspective of their corresponding contribution to achieving the ultimate goal. If the outlined stages of reforms are implemented, the desired positive results may be achieved. The educational progress may serve as a facilitator of other positive and important changes in the Atlanta metropolitan area.