In the spirit of TNTP's recent request for more solution-oriented dialogue, versus ad-hominem attacks, we're going to work with the embers we have, beginning with the most powerfully elected body in the United States. The School Board.
You heard me correctly. At the true grass roots level, there's not a more influential group of people than a school board. In all their diversity of membership and governance, they select leaders, respond to community needs, and sometimes follow policy...but I digress.
To be brief in writing, here are 4.5 solutions for school boards who want to sustain school reform measures;
- BE AUTHENTIC - In a recent LDS conference talk, Dieter Uchtdorf told an anecdote about lemon juice. In it, this person robs a bank believing no one can see his face. You see he applied lemon juice to it, believing it would hide him. Too often Governing Boards are at the gates ready to embrace whatever lemon juice that's being sold to hide the challenges they face (see what I did there?). There's no such thing as lemon juice hiding our faces - and it's up to the Board to hang a lantern on our problems and go about solving them with transparency.
- ASK QUESTIONS - Seems simple enough, except that I've sat through dozens of board meetings where agenda time is given to tout empty accomplishments, and listen to elected officials go on and on about why they're so proud of the district. Inquiry is necessary for progress. Boards should ask the District Executives one question every single agenda item, "Is there better way to do this?" That question changed this leader's life.
- REWARD INNOVATION AT ALL LEVELS - By asking if there's a better way to do something, the Board invites answers to that question. When something is rewarded, we statistically increase the likelihood of seeing that behavior again.
- USE DATA WHEN MAKING DECISIONS - Our friends at TNTP report that districts who ignore the value of great teaching do so at their own peril. The business-as-usual of rewarding teachers at decades-old salaries furthers teacher shortages.
Take my advice. It's worth much more than you paid for it.
Next week we dive into solutions for Executive School Leadership...still waters run deep!