I. For starters, the July 9th Board meeting video is now available (right-click and “save” if your browser cannot play the video):
II. Houlihans: I plan to be there tomorrow, anyone else? I have a meeting at 10:am with Dr. Wiegand and can report on that, talk about the Board Meeting, or my new plan to introduce new Board Policy that aims to increase interactions with the public (cue “taking over the world”). Which is an excellent segue into ….
III. Community interaction
Kathy Wallig wrote a guest commentary for the News-Gazette on Sunday, July 8th entitled “Urbana school board needs to repeal Board Policy 2:82” (unfortunately, not online). Ms. Wallig does an excellent job of painting the picture on a large canvas to help us understand what is really going on. She uses the example of Jed Bartlett and quotes the line “that’s where all the governing that really matters to anybody really happens” in the context of school boards. Ms. Wallig goes on to point out the many problems of Policy 2:82, but more importantly (in my opinion), she supplements that with a positive example, that of city council alderwoman Diane Marlin. I spoke with Ms. Wallig for a while about what all this means and by the end of our conversation, Ms. Wallig was saying that we need to change society. Bad Politics have become the new normal and we have grown used to it. In some cases, we have given up, in others, we try but nothing much gets accomplished. Why is it that the IASB is able to facilitate a “training” workshop for school board members, and then, oops, all the sudden we have a policy that exerts more top-down control of what board members can and cannot say (or even non-verbally express!). The magic of folks like Diane Marlin, and I would even say Pattsi Petrie and others that not only are very open but also seek out audiences, is that they empower people to engage in democracy. If those who are elected are not able to communicate effectively with those that elect them, what are they doing?
So swinging back to my self-assigned project for the month of July – my goal is that by the August 13th Board Meeting I will either be officially making a request to have Policy modified, or supporting a Board Member do so. I am still ignorant about the legal and official rules for carrying this out, so I need to research that. I have seen how Administrators ask for Policy changes, so I have a feel for what it looks like from that direction. I have never seen, nor heard of, a “community member” initiating this change. If you know of any, please let me know! What do I want changed/modified? That is what I am working out. On the one hand, I want the public to be protected from outside influences that wish to remove power from the public voice. On another hand, I would like future board members to act under the influence of a community-centric policy. And if your “child-centric flag” just went up, let’s talk about that.
It makes sense that the teaching staff be child-centric. It makes sense that the business and enterprise of a school district be child-centric. The purpose of the Board is to guide (govern) the school district. I think (and I could be way wrong) that the Board must have multiple focuses; one focus must be on the community that elected them, and the other must be on the Superintendent they hired. I don’t think the Board is supposed to get into the nitty-gritty of day-to-day business (which should be obvious) nor the exact implementation of how their governing directives are carried out. Yes, the overall goal is to educate
kids all students (not only kids). But the mission of Unit 4 also talks about drawing in the community, because the community are the legs and the strong back that supports this thing. If you zoom out, you will see we are all community. We educate students so that they can help make community even stronger and better.
So, bottom-line, I want to see policy that more explicitly weaves the community support (their voice, the opinions, their strengths) into the machinations of the Board’s duties.
If you see something wrong with what I said or just plain disagree, please let me know. 🙂 This is a journey I am taking and I know I don’t know everything.