More effective school boards

Tim Schell marvels at the difficulty of serving on a local school board, and I certainly share his amazement at the volume of information presented to board members. With all of that information and time necessary to understand it, how can board effectively oversee the management of a school district? To me, effective means being certain the boards decision’s and the actions of the administration reflect the educational goals and values of a community.
I’d think that a board could function most effectively if a district had a clear plan for its future — clear enough that the community can understand and support it; clear enough that the volumes of information can be understood in the context of the plan; clear enough that a board can keep the administration and itself focused on the plan; clear enough that new programs, new laws, new grants can be assessed against the plan.
Little of the above seems to apply to the MMSD, so the board’s oversight of the administration happens piecemeal, largely in response to community screams about changes made unilaterally by the administration.
The disussion of the Madison Virtual Campus stands as an illustration of my point; the board and the community seem to know little about it; no one seems to have discussed whether the Madison Virtual Campus might fit into a grand plan or impact other activities of the district. Just to list a few questions, could the virtual campus satisfy the requests for AP and other advanced classes? Could it reduce the need for more classrooms on the edges of the community? Could it actually reduce MMSD expenditures? Could it be used to raise academic achievement for students who are not up to grade level standards? And the big question, what’s the goal or goals of the Madison Virtual Campus?
Back to my original point, the MMSD board could more effectively oversee the Madison Virtual Campus if the MMSD had a clear plan and a clear statement of how the Madison Virtual Campus fits into that plan.

5 thoughts on “More effective school boards”

  1. I just picked up an Isthmus and began reading an article by Jason Shepard on the plan to dumb down curriculum. Really! I wrote my post before I read Jason’s article.

  2. Art stated this plan at the September meeting with all the PTO Presidents. No surprise given the budget woes and the achievement gap agenda.

  3. In response to a question about rigor in curriculum being pushed to the middle instead of the top, he said “Basically, yes.” I can’t say whether or not that is a formal plan, but that’s what it sounded like to me..and judging from the moans in the room…

  4. In my opinion it’s time for Art, and a lot of the top administration, to go. They serve at the discretion of the board, and if the board thinks the administration is purposely hiding information and is not being honest about upcoming decisions, and is going in a direction that the board and community does not want, then that administration is violating its responsibilities to the board, to the community and to the children.
    This is one reason I voted no on the referendum. It doesn’t make sense to me to build new schools, while gutting education.

Comments are closed.