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View Diary: Are Elected School Boards A Good Idea? (42 comments)

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  •  I am a member of an elected school board (0+ / 0-)

    I am lucky to serve with 4 other people, a mix of Republicans and Democrats, who all really care about the education of our community's children, not just their own. In our case, it is a volunteer position.

    If you suspect your school board sucks, I suggest the following:

    1. Go to the meetings. Hardly anyone comes to ours unless they are giving a report of some kind.

    One reason to go to the meetings is to get a bead on what kind of people you have serving and what the dynamics are. A second reason is that having an audience will affect how the meeting flows. The minutes will never reflect all the tones and back and forth of the in-person experience.

    2. Read the minutes of the meetings if you can't go. They should be public documents, and often they are posted online.

    3. Recruit other people to attend the meetings with you. There is a period for public speaking; use it. Alternately, you can contact the district office about getting an item on the agenda.

    (Note: if you have a personnel issue, it's always best to bring it up privately through administrative channels rather than airing it first in a public meeting. Because the Board can act as a hearing body in some paths, a public complaint to them about a teacher can make it more difficult for action to take place. I'd suggest private discussion with a Board member second.)

    4. Find good candidates to run for office next time, and support them. School Boards are low information races because they are usually smaller than a newspaper or other media coverage area. Even putting a statement on the ballot costs money, something people don't tend to do for a volunteer position. Word of mouth with mailers, talking amongst your neighbors, even facebook etc - you can do a grassroots campaign and you can win even over a candidate with institutional support, especially in a non-mega district.

    Your board is responsible for hiring and supervising your superintendent. It's not necessarily a surprise or a problem if they work well together, unless of course they are all horrible people. :-) The board is not allowed to meet and discuss except in public, but individual board members can and do discuss issues privately with the superintendent in advance.

    Don't give up your local control. Don't limit your school board to people the Mayor and his staff know. Don't give your school away to a corporation.

    You do have the responsibility to elect good people to your board. Welcome to democracy.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 12:08:39 PM PDT

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