Dynamics of Change in Jefferson County

published by corey.hixson

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Dynamics of Social Change in Jefferson County, Colorado
Social Capital
Social Capital is a communally shared resource that develops through shared experience and the development of shared values that are communally expressed and can motivate social change. (Loeb, 2010). In 2014, students and professionals mutually agreed that the modification of history textbooks for political purposes was not acceptable and developed several shared activities while demonstrating around the issue. (NPR, 2014).
Shared Experience
Shared experience is any cultural text or event in social space that facilitates the discovery of mutually beneficial shared values. Television, Music, Video Games, and Movies are good examples of the demostration of shared values in social space as a mass media that creates the social perception of intergroup prototypes and intragroup stereotypes (Holtzman, 2000). Time spent facilitating shared experiences such as storytelling, movies, concerts, or social gatherings is one way to facilitate the development of intergroup social capital (Loeb, 2010).
Figure 1. Hixson, S. (2012). Violence & Media [Video Podcast]. School of Psychology, Walden University
Status Quo and Assessment
Social conflicts exist between members of society when there are shared mutual needs which cannot be met for all stakeholders simultaneously (Mayer, 2012). Mayer (2012), also stipulates techniques for motivating and negotiating change related to conflicting mutual needs in order to facilitate conflict resolution. The conflicting mutual needs in Jefferson County, Colorado consisted of the financial needs of the district to demonstrate the efficacy of their shared system of accountability which was a state mandated test that demonstrated very little statistical validity during it's ten-year operating period (Hixson, 2015). One of the shared mutual needs which was met with beneficial development was the need for established standards and rubrics concerning public school materials and instruction (Goodwin & Hubbell, 2013). Public outcry developed around the awareness made by the students in Jefferson County, Colorado; that the district sought to limit access to information and to censor classroom learning materials in order to prevent possible group civil action on the part of the student population (NPR, 2014). The testing system was limited and based on measures of student achievement and not necessarily outcomes.
Social Interactivity and Intergroup Process
Social groups function as a part of the development and corroboration of intergroup traits that are recognized by the group and help to increase self-esteem, social groups also tend to stigmatize outgroups as a process of maintaining their own perceived sense of goodness of fit according to shared social goals as demonstrated by the shared values of the social group and individual self-identification within the social groups themselves (Tasdemir, 2011). Analogy demonstrates the process of individual and group learning as individuals create self-selected epistemologies for meeting a perceived intuitive need for new information and skills for adaptation (Zinker, 1977). Social groups tend to create their own epispemologies for efficacy both in terms of group membership and group performance. Social capital can then be expended to meet the communally expressed need in this dynamic, as facilitated by group-selected examples and prototypes such as those in the media and learning materials available.
Figure 2. Social Group Activity (
Community Engagement
As social capital builds, and events happen circulating shared ideas the potential for change increases in the community (Loeb, 2010). The community rallied around mutual needs and issues such as teacher pay, censorship by the board, the fiscal performance of the board, the trust from the community that was violated by the board; the community recalled the sitting school board and elected an entirely new school board in Jefferson County through the process of social action (Garcia, 2015).
Fig 3. Successful recall campaign. Photo: Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post.
Evidence of Social Response (Litigation)
In 2015, the successful actions taken by social groups in communities within The United States and the success of the NEA-funded democratic groups in Jefferson County, Colorado raised awareness of the need to create education reform legislation. Actions taken especially over the issues of accountability and student testing made the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act possible. The Act, asks states to create systems for accountability that do not overburden students, and gives local authority the power to select and create accountability systems that report to the US Department of Education. (US Department of Education, 2015).
Fig 4. Every Student Succeeds Act (
Analogies of Change
Daniel Goleman (2009) suggests that an understanding of ecology and dynamics present within human social and technological systems, as they impact the ecological footprint of humankind, represents an epistemology for motivation and social change that is more benevolent and beneficial than ideas about individual achievement and IQ. David Peter Stroh (2015), presents an epistemology for understanding systems in social space in the context of social change, which suggests improvement through collaboration and group unity.
Fig 5. Engaging Youth and Families (Stroh, 2015).
Shea & Bidjerano (2010), create an epistemology for self-regulating communities of inquiry which are functioning intellectual and social groups in the classroom environment. The social change movement in the community regarding accountability can benefit from the understanding of outcome measures of group success and performance, as well as established standards and rubrics, in a way that better suits the mutual needs of all stakeholders. The success of the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates that the district reduce the impact of individual test scores and the time individual students spend while taking standardized performance assessments.