There is a desire in the community for more public involvement in our schools. But is what we crave public involvement or meaningful involvement?
We hear the cry to allow greater participation from the public in the decisions of our school board and administration. We know some of the means and methods for public involvement (public comment at board meetings, participation in district sponsored events like Supper with the Superintendent, or meeting with others in the public at the Rose and Taylor community forums). Public involvement is treated as an event rather than participation in a decision-making process. In many cases the schools are managing their interactions with the public like it is part of a public relations campaign rather than an collaborative relationship. Basically, this public involvement is top-down communications from the schools to the public. It is information sharing (and even this is sometimes lacking).
What I hear people craving is meaningful involvement or meaningful participation. Meaningful involvement is about getting people participating in their government. It is about fostering involvement that leads to strategies that overcome cynicism or mistrust. It is about facilitating opportunities for informed participation to influence decisions taken by our school board or the administration.
This post started with an “or” question. Perhaps it is not an either/or but rather a both/and.
What are your thoughts?