How’s That Working for You?


In our previous post we talked about how and why the school board has been rendered ineffective to actually govern the school. We determined that the only real solution short of a “career school board” is effective delegation. Let’s visit the realities of that delegation, see how truly effective it is, and dissect how that paradigm has served the servants at the expense of the masters.

Across the State of Missouri, school boards delegate all responsibility to the administration for handling of all school board functions. School board meetings have become meetings where votes are simply taken to approve of what the school superintendent and his staff have done and wish to do. We must note here that the school boards do formulate a long list of policies that direct the actions and deliberations of the administration. These policies are to be followed by the administration in all manner and form; and school boards accept school administration decisions by vote or consent with the understanding and trust that these policies are being followed.

Read the last paragraph completely. It’s how the paradigm presents the solution to you. Begin with truth, end by leading you to believe a lie. The first two sentences of that paragraph are true, and the reasons have already been discussed. The last two sentences are lies. School boards do not formulate policies. And administrations do not follow policies.

I challenge you to prove this to yourself. Randomly or not, choose five schools across the State of Missouri that you are not familiar with and add to that list a sixth, your own. Look that school district up.  On the school boards page or the school’s page find a copy of the school board policy. Seven nearly word for word identical school board policies. It is self-evident the school board did not write nor have much input into the policy. One single “school board policy” exists for big city schools, suburban schools, and rural schools.

Further, school administrations do not follow these policies, even though (as we will learn in a later segment) they largely control them. They hire, discipline, and discharge teachers largely outside the policy; they shuffle money between accounts, sometimes even “hiding” money to escape statutory reductions in property tax that result from having too much; they flagrantly disregard inputs, complaints, and advice from the community outside the parameters of these policies; they drive the agenda and actions of the very board they serve. And they have a law firm who will convincingly assure the school board that every action taken by the administration is legal and within the framework of the school board policy.

How does this happen?

I recently witnessed an MSBA "training session" for new school board members. The gist of this training was to teach new school board members to become just like the old school board members. It was very effective.

The class started with an explanation about how everyone there, new and old, were different people with different personal ideals and personal agendas (different world views are even allowed.) But we all have one thing in common; we all want what's best for our kids and we all want to make our school better.

From there, it makes perfect sense to understand that, while you may disagree with some of your colleagues on the "minor" issues, once a corporate decision is made, you must support it. Because we all have "one thing in common."

He immediately went on to say that school boards make policy and then delegate to the appointed superintendent the responsibility and authority to execute them through his leadership.

Oddly or not; nobody stopped him after his introduction and asked him, “Best for our kids and best for our school according to who?” In our next segment we will explore who controls your school board and who controls them.

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