I was recently reminded of this cornerstone policy while looking for something else entirely.
Board Policy 105 THE PEOPLE AND THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT
The public schools belong to the people. The people govern the schools under rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and statutes of the state of Illinois. The people exercise their proprietorship through the elective process. They elect state and federal representatives, who establish through the Illinois General Assembly and the United States Congress the framework of law within which the schools operate. The people elect a board of education to represent them and to determine local educational plans and policies and to establish publicly endorsed educational goals and objectives. The board of education functions as an agent of the public within this framework.
The people are the ultimate governors of public education, and the Board of Education is directly accountable to the people. Accountability is a shared responsibility involving students, staff, the Superintendent of Schools, and the general public.
I personally think this idealistic statement breaks down in two critical areas
- The people have lost the art of holding others accountable
- Those elected* have lost the art of being held accountable
I say this is an “art”, much in the same sense as the “art of Chivalry”, or even the art of Civility for that matter. Accountability is not a blame game, it’s not pointing fingers and having a cow. I like how the Policy calls accountability a “shared responsibility”. There is deep truth in that.
So this is now my mantra. This is OUR school district! All of us who pay taxes, vote, work for, serve and are served by the district, the public schools belong to us. What do we want our public schools to do? It can only be as good as the people involved.
Part of my mission is to get more folks to acknowledged and accept this shared responsibility. And it is not a trivial responsibility. But I believe, in the words of Dr. Edna Olive, “[t]he education and support of children is some of the world’s most important work.”
* when I say “those elected”, I have in mind “state and federal representatives”