This recent summary of the challenges facing school boards everywhere is indicative of the concerns I feel as well. If you are interested enough to follow this blog, then I encourage you to review the article and note just how many complicated and conflicting issues there are surrounding the actions of boards.
I’m rapidly approaching my first anniversary on the Board and, happily, I have learned so much about our school system and the issues we face as a community in providing a high quality, affordable education for our children. And I really have many of you to thank for encouragement and ideas as well as pointing out some of our challenges. I appreciate all of it.
At times I’ve felt completely overwhelmed by the size of the issues. School boards are completely outgunned by state and national leaders who use school funding for various political gains, rarely benefiting our students. Our only weapon in opposition to the onslaught, since we have no real, funded political power, are our united voices, together with our community, to bring clarity and rational debate to the table. Because few board members, for may sound reasons, are able to maintain an ongoing, public dialog with their constituents in this way; leveraging stakeholder support against the political forces is very hard, but we have to keep trying.
I hope that my posts have encouraged readers to dig further into issues, to see the complexity of them, and to become engaged at a level that helps your child or school achieve its goals or brings positive, constructive change where needed to the system of education in some way.
Knowing that money is not really the answer, one wish I hold is that all parents could provide the same nurturing opportunities that my parents provided me, and that my wife and I have hopefully provided for our own. This starts at birth and no school curriculum can make up for 5+ years of inadequate home life prior to and after children arrive at our doors. All said, we as a nation need to find a way to support parents in achieving this wish.
Another wish is that I become more adept at explaining and shedding productive light on the conflict between words and actions on the part of so many who have power over our schools. The ONLY thing that matters is that our students achieve, all of them, uniformly great, and across all regions and backgrounds. Yet, it is the adults in this business that play all the games and make it so difficult. This difference between word and deed is why I am a vigorous supporter of responsible transparency in education. No hidden agendas, just facts, just working together.
Regarding my specific experiences on the Board this past year, aside from learning about and working with some great folks who do so much to make our District function every day, the experience of working with a multitalented, multidiverse group of leaders has been a great personal gift. I’ve enjoyed every interaction, learned from every discussion, and hope to continue to do so.
One thing that resonates with me at every meeting of our board is the intense need to build and maintain trust with my fellow members. This is hard to do all the time, but I can see nothing more awful than a divided board that, even when they differ on issues, cannot trust each other enough to share their ideas and expect to always be treated with respect. Maybe I’m still naive, but I feel it on our board. At the very least, I believe we are transparent with each other when it matters most.
Of course, “transparency begins at home” could be just as apt as for charity, and so I take great pride in having started this blog as a way to reflect my belief in being open and honest. I have never felt that an issue was so complex that it could not be explained in simple, rational terms. As I become more confident in my knowledge of these subjects, I hope to continue to share and to become a source for rational, clear information…the stuff that trust is built on.
I welcome your thoughts on my performance over the last year as well as any thoughts on those complicated topics and where we, as a community, should be heading.