School board lessons

After five years as a school board member, Peter Meyer summarizes what he’s learned on Ed Next. Among the lessons:

. . .  there are no absolute victories and no deafening defeats in the land of education governance; just the constant hum of the bureaucracy trying to control the flow of information and—if you’re lucky—the shouts and murmurs of the “the people” complaining. Unfortunately, there is simply no alternative to eternal vigilance, but it must be vigilance in the interests of freedom and equal opportunity.

There are plenty of reasons for wanting to leave “the people” out of it. They gum up the works, for one. They are lazy and apathetic for another. But what are the alternatives? I believe it was Churchill who also said, “Americans always get things right—after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

“We have to get back to making democracy work again,” he concludes.


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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Joanne — thank you for this article. He comments on a lot of things I (and others) have thought about. School boards have abdicated why too much authority to school districts in the name of policy governance. Yes, school boards should not get in the weeds of hiring. They should demand and expect information on building projects (vs just voting on them in the consent agenda – the public never sees the detail), new curriculum changes or programs (where is the scientific evidence – oh wait…), etc. However, the school boards I am familiar with don’t ask the tough questions, the don’t have the tough conversations in public among themselves (oh wait – they are on camera!) until they are ready to retire from the board. Why is this? Education should be all about the child. I believe that has been long forgotten. Yes, the special interest have gotten a strong hold – they are raising more money than ever in my district. The children…what do they get from all of this?