The Trust Agreement Project: Twenty Years of Restructuring Reforms within the Patterson City Schools

Twenty years ago, the Patterson City School Districts (PCSD) implemented a series of restructuring reforms that radically altered power relationships within the district. These reforms, known as Trust Agreements, shifted decision making authority away from management, vesting new authority in the hands of sites and teachers. These reforms altered the district and its culture of teachers in both far reaching and unforeseen ways. It is the intent of this historical study to tell this unique story of educational reform, detailing the historical contexts as well as presenting how these reforms are regarded in the PCSD today. This study specifically focuses on how the democratizing nature of these reforms altered the power relationships within the PCSD, affecting cultural norms and leaderships processes. This study also explores a tentative theory about leadership dynamics in school systems that employ participatory governance practices. This theory posits that teachers that have a high degree of autonomy and are equity-oriented, often undermine leadership interactions.