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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Middle Schoolers Take Over Rock Hill School Board

You can take the kid out of Middle School, but does the Middle School ever get out of the kid? 

I left the Rock Hill School Board work session Monday night convinced it was time to minimize school boards and superintendents. They both can handicap real education reform. It was bazaar (I'm sure I was part of the bazaar part). Have you ever been in a discussion where you weren't sure what the discussion was really about? Yet the discussion goes on for an hour. I finally had to say I didn't know what was going on and  the group needed some  help.  I wish the meeting had been televised - it might be going viral on youtube.

Now, I've been on boards with real issues. Where one member stands up and tells another to step outside (to get an xxs whooping). But this board doesn't appear to have "real issues" - more like middle school issues. Which makes it look so bazaar when adults are involved. I'm convinced we all have the same goals, we just take a little longer sometimes to realize it.

By now I'm sure you are wondering what went on - well - it was over school reports and school visits - and the different expectations each board member has for both. It doesn't bother me that other board members evaluate differently. I'm sure they do a much better job than I do.  My way is kind of tricky. I let the school tell me what they want me to know - and my evaluation is  based on what they tell me, but also what they don't tell me. I  look at the interaction between staff and between staff, students, and parents. You can tell a lot by looking at body language in just a few minutes. I also check; the boys bathroom; how inviting the entrance of the school is; and how warmly visitors are greeted. I'm guessing a lot of you don't like what I do - and that's OK.

The other issue is what I do with my assessment. I don't do individual school assessments. The schools report to the superintendent and my job as a board member is to assess the superintendent. What I evaluate goes in to my evaluation of the superintendent. And when educators don't want to discuss student achievement or school strategic plans - I use that information  - even when I'm not the one asking for it.


Five Characteristics of an Effective School Board
Effective boards allocate resources to needs
Effective boards watch the return on investment
Effective boards focus on student achievement
Effective boards use data 
Effective boards engage the communities they serve

Eight characteristics of effective school boards: At a glance
1. Effective school boards commit to a vision of high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision.
2. Effective school boards have strong shared beliefs and values about what is possible for students and their ability to learn, and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels.
3. Effective school boards are accountability driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement.
4. Effective school boards have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals.
5. Effective school boards are data savvy: they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement.
6. Effective school boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals. According to researchers LaRocque and Coleman, effective boards saw a responsibility to maintain high standards even in the midst of budget challenges.
7. Effective school boards lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust.
8. Effective school boards take part in team development and training, sometimes with their superintendents, to build shared knowledge, values and commitments for their improvement efforts.

7 Habits of Highly Effective School Board Members

Keep your eyes on the big picture.

Be honest.

Keep children first in your thoughts.

Remember you have no authority individually.

Stay out of personnel problems.

Quickly learn how to disagree agreeably.

Be Proactive

Begin with the End in Mind

Put First Things First

Think Win/Win

Seek First to be Understand, then to be Understood


Sharpen the Saw

7 Habits of Highly Effective Schools

Develops a Plan

Fostering Leadership

Setting High Academic Standards

Setting High Moral Standards

Managing Resources

Participating in the Community

Managing Time

7 Habits of Highly Effective Board Members

Focus on "we" not "me"
Treat staff and faculty with respect
Do your homework
Be courageous
Support the school system and board decisions
Know your role

7 Habits of Highly Effective Board Members - Workshop Presentation

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