"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Musings from a "Recovering Board Member"

My last posting got me thinking about what perks I enjoy as a citizen participant at school board meetings. I stole the phrase "recovering board member" from another former board member from several years ago who commiserated with me shortly after my election loss:

Top Ten Perks of Attending Board Meetings in a "Citizen Only" Capacity After Getting My Butt Whupped in April:

1. Board Meetings are Optional.

2. You don't have to stay for the topics/sections guaranteed to raise your blood pressure, but perversely you do because that's who you are. Also, you have low blood pressure that could use a little boost once in a while.

3. You can write a school issues blog without worrying about conflict of interest.

4. People don't call you to complain about prom anymore.

5. People don't call you to complain about Poms anymore.

6. You don't have to sit through any more excruciating Policy Discussions in which 20 minutes is spent finding exactly the right word or phrase to accurately express the intention of the policy at hand. I know it's very important to do this. It just drove me crazy. It's the whole numbers vs. word dichotomy with me. Give me numbers every time. Typically, they don't have nuances associated with them.

7. People don't accost you at the Piggly Wiggly anymore to explain in gory detail exactly what a moron you are for voting such and such a way on an issue of great importance to THEM.

8. You don't have to try to make sound decisions after a 5-6 hour meeting marathon leaves you bleary eyed and exhausted.

9. You get to observe board meetings from a different perspective, which is a real eye-opener after facing the audience for three years.

10. And the top reason bears repeating: Board Meetings are Optional.

To balance this list, there is also another list that must be shared:

"Top Ten Things I Miss About Serving on ECSD School Board"

1). I miss signing the diplomas. As Clerk, I got to sign every diploma. It never failed to make me all teary eyed remembering these young adults as gap-toothed grade schoolers. My oldest child was really looking forward to having me sign her diploma in two years.

2). I miss being well informed about school news. The only people who really know what's going on in the district from a birds eye view is the school board and the administrator. They have to read about 200 pages of material every month that gives information from all parts of the district. Even going to every meeting as a citizen does not give you the data you need to get that firm grasp on the many nuances of intricate school business.

3). I miss being a voice for the underserved student-scholars of our district. As I have mentioned a hundred times or so, I am passionate about good, solid, classical educational values. In an effort to be everything to everybody, public education has diluted itself so much as to be minimally impactful for most students.

4). I miss interacting with collegues of like (and sometimes not so like) minds.

5). I miss addressing issues that really are important to the administration of a successful public school, like student achievement, curriculum and setting an environment of high expectations for our students.

6). I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to serve on the board with Nancy Hurley. She effectively communicates concerns while remaining respectful, most of the time.

7). I really loved being on finance. School finance is hard to grasp and I really enjoyed working with Deb to learn more every year.

8). Similarly, I miss playing with the student achievement data every year to detect trends and use the data to predict future performance. I am a nerdy data hound, let's face it. But if the data are not used to some useful end, it's relatively useless to collect it. I think I provided a well needed set of critical eyes on this bottom line in our district.

9). I miss being a role model for public service to my kids. My oldest just got into the NHS. Her gradepoint was never an issue, but she got involved in public service projects, possibly because she saw me and her dad before me become involved citizens helping to shape the public policy in our city. I will have to be careful to continue to cultivate this for my younger two children to remind them of their responsibility as a citizen.

10). Finally, I miss going to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards annual meeting in Milwaukee. There was always some state of the art presentation at the cutting edge of education to go see. I got to see Mrs. Oswald get her "teacher of the year" award at the WASB meeting as well.

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