Stakeholders is a word used frequently in management circles. It has gained additional currency in education recently, and, as I'm cautious when using vague language, it’s a word worth breaking down. Education leaders should be cautious when using the word. .In many cases, the term circumvents using a specific list of constituents and interested parties that can and should be listed individually.

Short list of Educational Stakeholders:

  • administrator groups,
  • administrators,
  • alumni,
  • chambers of commerce,
  • community organizations,
  • competitors,
  • foundations,
  • future generations,
  • legislators,
  • librarians,
  • library officials,
  • local business owners and
  • local businesses,
  • media outlets,
  • municipal employees,
  • municipal officials,
  • nonprofits,
  • parents,
  • professional organizations,
  • prospective residents,
  • researchers,
  • school board members,
  • school boards,
  • students,
  • suppliers
  • teacher union leaders,
  • teachers,
  • teachers’ unions,
  • trade groups, and
  • voters.

A local hotdog stand has stakeholders, too, such as people concerned about how it provides tax revenue, jobs, a gathering place, local flair or a good meal. Schools hold an almost mythic importance to a community, and the long list of stakeholders reinforces the importance of schools.

Why avoid use of the term “stakeholders”?

In almost every circumstance, naming the people and groups that care about a specific issue helps guide the school leader to solutions. If a school foundation supports an issue, it is worthwhile bringing them into the discussion early and explicitly. Naming opponents is an honest way of empowering those people and groups to engage in the discussion as well.

Taking the time to think through who will be affected by a decision, who will support it, who will oppose it and naming them, is the best way of ensuring more transparent decision-making.