Dean of the school board : an oral history of the distinguished career of G. Holmes Braddock

Elizabeth Ann Ferreira-Alves, Florida International University

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Effective school board leadership is often an ephemeral ideal in today's highly politicized public education arena. However, effective leadership is necessary in order to ensure a fair and equitable education for all students. This dissertation described and explained one school board member's perspective of his career as a lens from which to view and assess public educational policy making in Miami-Dade County.

Now retired after thirty-eight years of service, G. Holmes Braddock is the longest serving, contemporary, urban school board member in the country. Spanning nearly four decades, his perspective provides a comprehensive view of urban education both locally and nationally. The significance of his longevity and the impact of his leadership on educational policy-making was the focus of indepth interviews with Mr. Braddock and other key educational "influentials." From this transcript data, recurring themes were revealed and categorized. Five elements of his perspective, i.e., teacher professionalization; desegregation; athletics; bilingual education; and his comprehensive leadership role, were identified and analyzed, as were five variables of his perspective, vi i.e., fairness; integrity; honesty; courage; and the situational context. Other secondary source material, such as excerpts from newspaper articles, school board minutes, and items from Mr. Braddock's own personal effects further augmented and triangulated the data.

Given that the purpose of this study was to describe and explain Mr. Braddock's perspective of his school board career, the findings can be understood from two different viewpoints. The elements of Mr. Braddock's perspective describe or characterize his career and represent the significant policy issues in which he demonstrated exceptional vision and leadership. However, taken alone, these elements cannot fully explain his distinguished career. Rather, an analysis of the variables of Mr. Braddock's perspective provides an explanation for the effectiveness of his leadership role. Personality traits such as fairness, integrity, honesty and courage and the impact of the situational context were factors that strongly influenced Mr. Braddock's decision-making. Thus, Mr. Braddock's school board career can be holistically understood as the intersection of person, place and time with significant public education policy issues.

The results of this study provide a unique and historical perspective of school board politics in Miami-Dade County. From Mr. Braddock's perspective, we are able to view one individual's leadership role over time and its impact on local public education policy.


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