Back in the day, we could count on school boards to be good stewards.
Aside from persons who used a school board position as a stepping stone for launching a political career, board members tended to serve with a sense of purpose, helped hold superintendents accountable, and made sure the main focus was on student academic achievement.
We could count on classroom teachers motivating and instructing in ways that nurtured and developed the interests and talents of their students. Principals, superintendents, and school board members largely held an abiding commitment to academic excellence for all students.
However, in today’s climate and in too many places, school board members have shifted away from students’ academic needs and toward things like personal, political, and hidden agendas. We’re witnessing adults who are spending too much time bickering and battling and not enough time on addressing the academic priorities of students.
And for those of us who care deeply about K12 education, this decline in the efficacy of some local school boards is both sad and shocking. What’s most unfortunate about these new realities is that in the most distressed academic communities, ideals such as professional integrity and accountability may be a thing of the past.
I never thought I’d see the day where the education of our youth would become a sacrificial lamb and be used like a political football by people who claim they care about those students who are struggling academically. The fact that grownups are so willing to use K12 education as a proxy for their own interests and agendas is akin to criminal behavior.
It’s not coincidental that failed stewardship and school leadership weaknesses exacerbate the dysfunction and ineptitude in the schools that so desperately need strong leaders in order to survive as places of learning. It’s beyond comprehension that despite the severity of consequences facing the most vulnerable students, the adults seem to care very little about academics.
We have to deliver for our children and youth because they are counting on the grownups to ensure that they have access to the highest quality of education. We cannot allow K12 stakeholders to continue to compromise the sacredness of public education with practices and behaviors that do not align with the delivery of high quality education for students across the learning spectrum.
This is a critical time in our nation’s history because we need education constituencies to exhibit strong, honest, and decisive leadership. Our public school challenges call for educators who are courageous enough to move beyond the status quo, while also forming partnerships with members of the civic, business, and religious communities. Ultimately, it will take the entire village to resurrect teaching and learning, especially in our schools that are academically distressed.