Why does a School Board with sound principles matter?
The answer is clear: A reliably high-performing School Board directly enhances the quality of learning for both teachers and students in the classroom. This best enables students to find greater happiness with their friends and families during these vitally important years in the public education system.
Even Better Public Schools:
We have great schools, but this is Laguna Beach, together we can do even better.
Classroom teachers, students, families, volunteers, taxpayers, community donor and scholarship organizations, local businesses that mentor and employ students, all these people and more are a time tested and proven partnership responsible for our public school success story.
I know from experience that this powerful intergenerational local community partnership will succeed with or without the high functioning School Board our public schools deserve. But we can do even better when our schools succeed with the support of a School Board that more fully and effectively represents the community.
We need a School Board that knows how to bring out the best in our school community, avoid unnecessary controversy that divided us into insiders and outsiders.
Our public schools must be as good or better than private schools, but must never be governed as if privately owned. Public schools are about democracy, pluralism and egalitarian civic values.
Local Control, What It Means, How to Make it Work for Our Kids
Talking about local control is not enough, taking control at the local level is what counts.
We can comply with all state and federal law, enjoy greater local control, and have even better relations with state and federal education agencies, by showing Sacramento that when it comes to local control we get it, and know what we are doing.
Unlike most school districts in the state that depend on Sacramento for funds collected statewide, our local school district derives 90% of our annual $45 million public schools budget from local property taxes, and private donors including School Power generously enrich school life.
Local funding means local public ownership, with local partnerships and local priorities.
Local property tax funding without undue dependence on Sacramento or Washington gives us more fiscal autonomy and local control than our School Board has exercised in recent years for the benefit of students, families, teachers or the community.
We pay for our own schools locally, we should run our schools locally.
Restoring Best Practices, Higher Standards of Public School Governance
The School Board represents the community in oversight of School District administration. To have integrity the Board should have decision-making capability that is not unduly dependent on the very senior administrators the Board is supposed to supervise.
Professional senior school administrators should be able to do the job for which they are hired and well-paid, without excessive hiring of contractors and consultants. The taxpayers should not have to pay twice to get the job done.
We need a full audit of spending on senior administrators, contractors and consultants. Resources should go to the classroom, not for out of control hiring of educational managers, creating a top-heavy local public education bureaucracy modeled after state and federal educational-industrial complex.
Reward classroom teachers, not education bureaucrats from Sacramento and Washington, or their opportunistic career protégés looking for fat contracts to spike their retirement benefits.
We need a School Board that is not being spoon-fed policy, practices and programs by senior administrative staff, who in turn are being spoon-fed by state bureaucrats, contractors, consultants and lobbyists for the educational industrial complex.
School Board members need to use the same critical thinking skills we teach students, instead of becoming dependent on the very educational bureaucracy the Board is elected to oversee on behalf of the community.
Traits of High Functioning School Boards
National studies show that School Boards that think and act independently and without undue dependence on educational bureaucracy are more high-functioning and successful in terms of student achievement and good community relations.
We need a School Board with –
- Unwavering commitment to open, transparent community relations – no exceptions
- Ability to think, act and vote based on fully informed independent judgment
- Knowledge of American civics and traditions of local public school governance
- Public service and civic volunteer experience, with skills needed to exercise oversight for community schools through local control, and do it competently
- Experience managing public finances and fiscal policy, knowledge of School Board oversight functions needed to prevent waste, fraud and abuse
- Experience and knowledge to perform duties of public school oversight without undue dependence on senior administrative staff, contractors or consultants.
School Board actions impact students, families, teachers and the community every hour of every day. Consistent competence in public school governance is imperative. School Board service is not about politics, prestige, privilege or social and professional networking, it is about conscientious public service and civic duty.