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Getting Rid of School Boards?


Collectively, the nation's nearly 15,000 local school boards face growing criticism and an array of challenges that have tended to weaken their traditional control over the schools in their communities.

Some critics call for abolishing school boards altogether. Others suggest that better training is needed for a task that has become increasingly complex and time-consuming.

Proponents, on the other hand, point out that school boards, whose members make up the largest group of elected officials in the nation, remain an important mechanism for giving citizens a say in how their schools are run. Getting rid of school boards, they say, would be a blow to democracy.

What do you think? Should school boards be restructured or abolished? Or are they essentially fine they way they are?


I think that MORE training for School Board volunteers is in order.
Last month, our local School Board irresponsibly dismissed our highly competent, communicative and professional Superintendant for personal reasons, and paid out some 300K to end the contract.
A School Board could not be more fiscally irresponsible!! Please bring in the Trainers!

Please, anything other than politicians running the show!

While Boards of Ed. are less than perfect, they need to be maintained in some form that gives them, AS EDUCATORS, the power to run local school districts.

When you put politicians in charge, that's what you get - politics. Education is the furthest thing from their mind. Distributing expensive contracts to their friends, busting unions, lying about data to make them look good even though they didn't acutally do anything good, bringing in their business cronies to run the systems and completely wreck students' education through their lack of educational intellect, etc., etc., etc.

I always find it interesting that time and again people talk about how corrupt the politicians are (and they're not totally wrong), but with the help of media propoganda, they'll fall for the politician-as-savior line every time, as if the politicians really knew or cared about the students more than the educators.

Bring back the Boards of Education. In what form can certainly be debated, as long as the decisions are ultimately made by knowledgable educators, not mischievous politicians.

I don't know how things are run in Mr. Norman's town, but in mine the School Board is and elected body--making them politicians and prey to all of the ills that he lists above. Our state board is a hybrid of elected and appointed. The appointees are put there by the Governor (I am thinking the s/he would also be considered a politician).

I have also spent considerable professional time in contact with a number of non-profit and community volunteer boards. Again, there is no magic that separates them from handing contracts to friends, avoiding unions, or generally being stupid about what is going on the agency for which they have responsibility.

Aside from having personal commitment to the work at hand, and high integrity, the only other thing in my experience that brings improvement is training into the appropriate role of the board (many DON'T understand this key piece and spend too much time managing/micromanaging and too little in policy oversight). My local school board has recently benefitted from some intensive development.

I believe that there does need to be a local arm with oversight responsibility--most states are just not equipped for this. Beyond that, I think that the value of the "local voice" is overstated. Provides and easy "divide and conquor" target for folks who want to bring in extremist agendas (keeping minutia in or out of the curriculum, banning books, etc).

Mom Margo writes that she believes "that there does need to be a local arm with oversight responsibility" but in the very next breath states "that the value of the local voice is overstated". This is a cunnundrum that I do not understand. The "extremist agendas" of the various local school boards are few and far between. They are, without a doubt, the exception to the rule. If in those extreme cases, though, that is what the local community wants, then that is democracy. If the local board, however, becomes a nuisance and simply a platform for their political and/or religious agendas, the community can vote them out. Nine out of ten times that is exactly what is happening. 

Personally, I think the question of whether local school boards should be abolished is .......... well, silly. Just because a few critics have raised the issue, doesn't make it sensible. We will always have people around us who have absurd ideas. Some of them, in fact, could well be on this very page.

I left teaching because the bureacracy from education boards and ministry. They cannot dictate what is needed to be taught, teach the right content the right way and reading and maths will become subjects with meaning - pipeline/production line education does not work - If schools were partly privatised with industry involvement then you would find improvement.

My local school board is an elected body. The profile of this body tends to chsnge significantly whenever a new school or expensive building project is proposed. The board itself is made up of people that live in the area and do have at least some connection with the school, either having children in the school or at the very least being taxed for the schools' operations. I do not always agree with decisions made by my local board, but I do appreciate having some local control over the schools. I would resist privatization or the loss of the small local control that we do have. I will vote for a different board if I do not agree with the current one.

Our school board is elected. While I certainly agree that training is needed for all board members, we also must take the responsibility to elect those who treat it as a "job"--take it serious. They must be people who want to make a difference in the schools. We have board members who were "recruited" by the superintendent because he was afraid of having someone else (that cannot be manipulated and controlled) on the board. Another vital reason for the board is an overseer for the superintendent. We have a power hungary man who is manipulative. While he has been here many years, he has worn out his welcome with the board and they are seeing many problems that they are finally voicing concerns. He NEVER liked board members (which I am a former one) who questioned him in the least. If we revamp boards, we need to make sure there is oversight and accountability built in.

Mr. Xavier questions the conundrum of my beliefs that local boards are needed for oversight but that the need for local voice is overstated. It's all about balance. The hue and cry in support of
"local standards" typically comes up whenever something that looks controversial (examples: the origins of life, sexuality as it relates to health, music with religious content, etc) is considered with regard to state content standards. It also comes up whenever states consider funding and any move away from local property taxes. As a result, quality and content vary widely across communities within a single state.

So, to clarify, there needs to be a local arm with responsibility for the interpretation, implementation, evaluation and enforcement of state and federal standards and requirements. They also need to be accountable to these larger bodies.

I think anti-nepotism policies should be established while those elected to their worthy positions need to be more acquainted with the laws of NCLB and IDEA.
Executive sessions are another provision that needs some type of change because rest assured there is more than just personnel talk going on behind closed doors, but no way to prove it.

Having worked as an administrator in a central office I have witnessed the frequent bullying and petty politics of a municipal school board. A BOE member called me, demanding that I fire one of her son's middle school teachers. The student complained to his BOE mother that the teacher was "boring". I observed the teacher in her classroom. I had also worked with her on a number of school improvement projects. I found her to be one of the most talented and dedicated professionals in her school. This is just one of the egregious episodes that I witnessed in a particularly corrupt city in CT.

I believe that a local school board is essential for "some" local control. I do believe that there is a responsibility on the public to establish some criteria for board membership. The fact that your child received a grade lower than you thought they should get or the fact that you do not care for their teacher should not be included as a purpose for running for school board. I believe that the term "oversight" is appropriate when the policies established for that "oversight" are not micromanaging an extremely intricate "system".

In the business world, when a function is no longer needed it get abolished. Business does not like to pour money down a sinkhole. Likewise when a function becomes dysfunctional, it gets reengineered. Business focuses on the best way to do something, both in cost and effectiveness. Mediocrity is the cancer that causes bankruptcy.

School boards are dysfunctional. Charter schools are public schools that do a proven better job of educating--minus the overburden of a local useless school board. They have reengineered the relationship of parents, students, principals, and teachers into a fuctional model. One very important--crucial--part of this model is the ability to drop a bad idea or bad practice IMMEDIATELY! If square wheels do not work, and round wheels show promise, charter schools can install round wheels by next Monday at the latest.
Charter schools without this level of constant self reevaluation and reengineering quickly lose their credibility and go out of existence. In short as soon as they look like old-fashioned school-board operated schools, they go bankrupt.
The time of school boards has come and gone--get rid of them!

School boards should be tasked with policy oversight: How does the mission of the school align with every major school decision, (whether it be hiring of personnel, curriculum reform or construction projects)? In my experience, superintendents like to give School Boards the detail stuff so they are kept busy and out of the major policy decisions until the 11th hour, when they are called on to rubber stamp them. In this way, real community input is effectively supressed.

Students are the losers, as schools become disengaged from the big picture. Instead of the dealing with the time-wasting minutea, School Boards should be tasked with constantly answering the important questions: WHAT are we teaching our kids, WHY are we teaching it and HOW can we best do that?

We had a school board locally give themselves a hefty pay raise and a benefits package that rivaled and surpasses any teacher's benefit package. Granted, they had not seen a raise in years but to the extent it was given (for part time work) made it so they earned more than teachers and many others committed to careers in education. While teachers are losing key features of their benefits (retirement features), this borad acted as if they exist in a vacuum. Amid much protest, the benefits were scaled back, but I do believe, the pay remained the same. Are School Boards necessary? They can be. Do they need to be reformed? Yes and so does most things after a time. Look around, this county is in quite a pickle even if people choose to bury their heads in the sand.

Let's make the school boards truly local "school boards"--every school has its own governing board of parents, community, and educators that guides that school to meet state/national-based standards. At most, only one school board for each high school and its feeder schools. New Zealand has done just this--and they have the highest literacy rate in the world! Bigger is not always better!

Interested Citizen is correct with his views of business but ultimately incorrect in regards to eductation. A business can change instantly because there is often little resistance from union contracts, goverment statutes and requirements, and community tradition that limits what is being done because 'we have always done it that way.' Remember that a 20,000+ student district is really a huge corporation. As we know, change in GM, Ford, ATT, and GE doesn't happen as fast as we think.
In our community (Riverside-San Bernardino, CA), the school board is wed to parent whims and in protecting the classified staff. Why? They live in the community and, consequently, they vote. The credentialed staff live all over the area except within the district and thus have no real say in what the school board decides. Most urban districts operate just this way.
Should we ditch the school board? No. Who would take their place? That power is too great to give to any school cabinet concerned with the day-to-day operations of running the district. I do agree that training of board members and a better informed electorate might change things.

After 7 years on a school board my conclusion is that we need something else if we are to improve our position in student achievement.

Part-timers, some with no time to do any background research, has let us to schools that "reflect" the local thoughts of the community irrespective of what is happening elsewhere in the world that we now must compete with.

Either make each local school board totally responsible for the output of its community or let's do something else.

The present school board governance structure is a thing from the past. It was an independent board of local people who were closely tied to local academic and financial considerations. Not now. A special interest group can get a "team" elected and if they have a majority, can use the school district for their ends. The "infrastructure" that develops, because there is a substantial flow of money in education, is extensive and is adept at using the system for financial gain. Only a majority is required to start the wheels in motion. The general public is too intimidated to speak up and "get involved." Furthermore, the acquisition of objective information is difficult to obtain and much time and effort must be expended to "get the other side of the story." The infrastructure, as it exists now, extends from local boards to state and national associations. The Educational Establishment is huge, ponderous, inefficient and in many instances political. Constantly there is the cry for REFORM, always with the mantra of being "fully funded." Reform is a necissity, if the educational system is to survive and be viable. But the reform must be true reform with a focus on academic excellence and excellence in the use of our resources to that end. As long as the system is a means to an end for special interest groups, education will suffer.

If not elected School Boards, then who is ultimately responsible for the school budget (tax money)for a district? Additionally, who would be responsible for hiring the superintendent to run the school district, and holding that person accountable?

Elected officials are generally either liked very much, or disliked very much by the electorate. School boards are no different in this political world. The supperintendent, being at the top of the ladder, as it were, in a school district, is certain to attract both favor and the ire of the citizens that live within his or her district.
As politicians, board members are influenecd by special interest groups. At the local level, these groups are parents, teachers, senior citizens and even student groups. Special interests are not all outside, separate entities, having noting to do with the locality. Businesses that are located within any school district have a stake, or special interest in the school as that is part of the training ground for their future employees. Parents vote for other parents because they agree with those other parents. That's the business end of schools. It is very much like any business in America. School boards are more necessary then they have been in the past to help esure that local control remains local.
Interested Citizen must live in some model community where charter schools DO work. The record, so far has been pretty dim. If one wants to be involved in one's schools, one needs to do just that, become involved. Run for a position on the school board, volunteer in the schools, work with other citizens to bring about change when agreement can be reached on what change should be made.

Charter schools have failed in their promise to improve on the low scores from urban public schools. I'd like to know the names of these charter schools that have proven to do a better job. "Interested Citizen" is indeed living in a fantasy world.

Gee, why would we want the elected representatives of local communities to control the schools when we have the Federal Government so willing to do that?

For that matter, do we still need state departments of education? It seems they have been reduced to branch offices of the federal DOE.

The first time I heard about the elimination of school boards was on CSpan watching a governor's conference. My thought at that time was, "Right, let's destroy local control of the money". School boards are elected. In a Democracy, we need elected officials answerable to the people in the local community directly involved in allocation of the money. We can't be sure these people will be do a good job, but we can throw them out if they do not.

To say that school boards are a thing of the past, is an easy way to change the system and eliminate all local control. Parents have the right to get directly involved in school board decisions and they should. The problem is we elect school boards and then forget they exist and they forget why they were elected.

It is strange to me that at the same time we are talking about getting rid of elected school boards, we are appointing National Boards to Certify Teachers and circumvent teacher's colleges to supposedly create highly qualified teachers. Teachers must be allowed to use their four and sometimes five years of college training to teach, and enough money must be allocated to districts so that resources are available. Students deserve this! Parents must have a voice in the educational process of their children and school boards are one very democratic way for that to happen.

School Boards need to be restructured or abolished as Educational Reform progresses. Most School Board Officials sit in their office and instruct others to put together policies, regulations, and sit at the front desk smiling during meetings like they know what is going on. Yearly, they provide themselves with a high bonus and during board meetings address parental concerns without the knowledge needed to be effective policy makers.
School Board Officials sit on a panel and promote their friends to higher positions and make decisions based on "who" they know, not on who is best qualified for a position. They are nothing more then just political figures that add to the higher expenses within a district.
I am sure somewhere across the nation that School Board Officials are active participants to the school community, however, I do not see this in my school district. They are more concern with their own bonus and looking good for the media. They address their salaries first.
School Board Officials need to be more involved in the school community or this position needs to be abolished and the additional funding needs to go into teaching.

If we get rid of the school board, who hires the superintendent/principals of the schools? I think that is a really important question to ask?

Since the federal government is now writing the curriculae for America's public schools it is time to do away with local School Boards. Once that is accomplished then all State Boards of Education should also be eliminated. Then when they're gone why not get rid of classroom teachers, who have become obsolete in our modern age of individual internet education.
Eventually a national curriculum will be written,
going directly to each child over the net. Think of the money that will be saved!

Our school board condoned the implementation of the scripted Reading First program (mandated under NCLB for Title 1 schools) in all our public schools, even in those that are not Title 1.

The result has been the elimination of recess in elementary grades (against the wishes of parents, teachers and community members!) as well as the elimination of play time in kindergarten!

If schoolboards are unquestioningly doing what the state dictates such as implementing Reading First then they obviously already lack control!

Furthermore schoolboards apparently can make no difference in the lives of some kids who are struggling and are not getting their needs met! Parents go to the schoolboard as a last resort in hopes that some help can be offered, but it's a waste of time.

We should not get rid of school boards unil we know what is taking their place. We seem to agree here that school boards are a waste of time, but as Mrs. J.J. Mastripolito commented just where are we headed with this elimination. The federal accountability system is now in question, and do we really need more disruption of the public school system before we know how that plays out.
I never think it a waste of time to speak out at school board meetings, and since when are they all being paid for this service?

I was an attendee at the researach symposium that prompted the discussion thread. I was particularly struck by a statement by the researchers Frank Lutz and Laurence Iannaccone who wrote, "Give up local school governance very reluctantly! It is a grand example of exactly what our American republic is all about ..."

I was also an attendee at the research symposium that prompted this discussion thread. I am not an educator or a researcher; I am a school board member. I am in my sixth year of service. The strength and future of school boards lies within the hands of the community...a community which encourages good ethical candidates to provide service and leadership to the children of the community by running for office....a community that expects a high level of education for all its children and holds the Board of Education accountable...a community that realizes that education is the responsibility not only of the school district, but also parents, neighbors, businesses and industries, community and religious organizations, even the city and town governments in its location. On school boards, there is no place for "personal agendas"...since I came to the decision to run for school board, I have tried to make decisions based on one simple question...."What is best for the children of my district....all the children?" I felt I just wanted to express this. This symposium was an excellent opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves...at the effectiveness of our boards...let us keep providing opportunites for discussion of this nature.

School boards have two major roles-hire a highly skilled superintendent with strong management and fiscal skills and establishing policy.
Unfortunately, in many of out smaller districts, the first role is an impossible task, which leads to the school board having to deal with issues that arise from the superintendent's failures. Then the school board gets blamed for micro-managing, etc.
In smaller districts, superintendents have little experience, being promoted from coach to principal to superintendent without a background in managing a multi-million dollar organization. The school board tends to have volunteers who are elected based on perceived issues within the district, and often have limited business experience, very little financial knowledge, and little understanding of the ways education works.
When things get bad enough, usually with personnel issues, construction projects and secret meetings, the citizens of the community rise up and vote the bums out, fire the superintendent, and start over. For a few years, all is well, and then the cycle starts over.
Most superintendents are hired based on personality factors, not skills. There needs to be some way to select superintendents who have the skills to understand the many nuances of financial decision-making, to be ethical informed leaders of their districts, and to be very knowledgeable followers of their state's statutes.

School boards are a fine example of the adage that people get the government they deserve. When the community is sound, it elects good men and women to the board, individuals who selflessly serve the goal of maximizing the educational experience of their children. When the community is itself divided, board members will spend their time in petty arguments, political struggle, self-aggrandizement, and, occasionaly, outright fraud. As I say, people get the government they deserve.

Dr. Lerner makes a good point. Unfortunately as our community members become even more overworked and focused on making ends meet, they are less aware of what is occurring in the educational community. It seems Boards of Education are elected more and more by a decreasing voting pool. In addition, these people tend to have alterior motives, such as cutting educational budgets or using the position as a spring board to higher political positions. We need people to run for Boards of Education that have knowledge of schools, care about what is happening to our schools and, ultimately, what is happening to the future of our communities.

This article and the many comments are quite interesting. I have been a local school board member for the past 12 years and have done what is asked of me - to set policy, work with the entire school community (administrators, teachers, extended staff, PTO, Mayor/Council) to do what is best for the students. In the state of NJ where I live school board members receive no pay at all - we are all volunteers who spend countless hours for the betterment of our children. I do, however, agree that some members run for the "wrong" reason but I have also seen those same individuals become very good board members. Training is a very critical area for board members and again in NJ is is mandatory for our members to take numerous classes in order to serve their communities in better fashion. Boards need to look to the future and help mold where their district should be going, not getting involved in the managing of staff, building maintenance, etc. Perhaps the folks that feel so strong about abolishing boards of education should "walk in their shoes" for a few meetings and see just what the member is really responsible for.

Critics of democracy have stated that democracy should be abolished and Churchill replied something to the effect that democracy was the worse possible alternative except all the rest.

The same can be said of school boards. The question of whether school board should be restructured or abolished is a do you beat your wife type of question and arises out of the Business Round Tables corporate agenda that is constantly irritated by our democratic traditions, such as locally elected school boards. Mayoral control of school boards-- initiated in many large urban school districts-- is merely a means to carrying out the BRTs agenda for America. This general attack on all school boards urban and rural is a new phase of the stealth BRT's agenda.

The struggle for democracy is not restricted to America's history books or justification for the occupation of Iraq, but is being played out in the structure of America's education system.

Are America's public schools going to be of the people, by the people, and for the people? Or, are America's public school going to be run by, and, for America's corporate interests?

The survival of our Country depends upon educating our children to a competitive level with other countries. Local control of schools no longer makes sense. All American children need to meet high academic standards. Therefor, National Educational Standards should be used in all Schools. The local school boards no longer control our schools -- teacher unions control what goes on in the classroom. This must change.

We are a nation under stress when it comes to education. The pressure that schools and the administration and teaching staff are under to improve or maintain appropriate levels of performance is mind boggling to say the least. When everyone from the building principal to the teacher aid is using all the tools in their toolbox to make AYP and AMO and the grade it only seems logical that the governing body of a school district feel the same crunch. Board members should not only be members of the community but members who are deemed highly qualified, like educators,and who can review test data and curriculum mapping and be able to bring something to the table that school districts can utilize in their plan of action to improve performance or drive instruction.

I reside in a state that is in the top 10 in taxes (spending per pupic) and the bottom 10 in educational performance. That is not a good value. Schools account for almost 80% of the local budget. Every year they keep asking for more from the towns with little to show for the increased spending. Now we are at the breaking point. The State has level-funded the cities and townsfor the coming year because of a huge deficit. It is a moment of truth, especially for school boards who have given into the teacher unions for these many years. Perhaps the schools should have been responsible for collecting the taxes that supported their budgets instead of dumping it on the town to figure out where the money is to come from. Maybe that direct approach would have made the school boards more accountable. I agree that school board members are not equipped to deal with the complexities of today's public schools (especially negotiating with professionals from the teachers' unions), and therefore they tend to rubber stamp the superintendent. Also I think there are too many conflicts of interest in people elected to serve on these boards, such as spouses or parents, etc. of teachers in the public school system. Every locality probably does not need its own school system. Regionalization could bring about efficiencies in operations and duplications. However, the most difficult challenge to improving our schools lies in confronting the teacher unions who have a stranglehold on our public education system. It's not just in the money, but equally important is the contractual language that ties the hands of the administration who no longer have the power and flexibility to operate their schools in the best interest of the students. And until the parents of those students realize that fact and do something about it, I believe there is little hope we will see improvement any time soon.

My school board is out-of-touch with some of the harsh realities of the classroom. The members are all white, middle-aged, and upper-middle class.

One member is so full of himself, that he can't carry on a conversation without reminding those around him that he is a banker. Another holds a PhD in education, but she has been out of the classroom for so long that she cannot honestly understand the negative shifts NCLB has caused schools, teachers and students and she seems to rely heavily on publishing firm research as opposed to true teacher-based research.

That the board makes financial decisions that impact what happens in the classroom that are based on not-so-well-grounded theories is frustrating. They also seem to thrive on their own anecdotal experiences as parents and students, which really isn't good enough when it comes to being an expert on education.

That the board as a whole is vehemently anti-union with the attitude that "We just want to get ride of bad teachers," adds insult to injury. It often seems that the board is more intent on kissing up to the public (yeah, yeah, I understand that public education is funded with public monies) than listening to classroom educators. It also seems like they are more willing to listen to high-dollar publishing companies solutions to problems in education than to teachers. That the board has no qualms about spending gajillions of dollars on things like more standardized-test preparation programs while at the same time cutting teacher pay is nothing short is an indignity. While the board claims to value teachers, their actions reflect that they value other entities far more.

From my perspective, school boards of education as they exist now ought to be a thing of the past, because the sad truth is that they are politicians with personal agendas tainting their vision. It would seem to me that a decision-making board of education ought to be comprised of practicing classroom teachers who can experience the ripple-effect of the decisions that trickle down.

Alas, good luck on that one, though. Politics will continue to be politics and therefore dubious in nature.

My position on school boards political or not,
is that should a district exercise an option to
have a "School Board", they must be held accountable to being aware of how the law supports
the role of the stakeholders they are governing
with their rules and objectives. For to bend or break a rule, you must know a rule.

I respectfully state that most school boards
do not have their role straight and they rule
with an iron fist that negates what they were
put in place to do. Sounding boards are what they
become and not very good ones if resolutions
based upon the law are misused to meet one's own
personal agenda for control. Yes, it does happen and that is why the mantra of politics becomes
the foundation of action thought for most people
to use when things are not addressed fairly.

I find that in my district ( Chicago District 299)
which does have a real political tone because
our Mayor controls who is appointed to become
the Chairman / President of the Board of Education
of the City of Chicago since Reform law in our
Illinois School Code gave him that authority.

It is not an easy task by any means and for my
lat thought about this controversial subject.
I respectfully state that being versed in whatever
the law is and how it governs any school board can
support the actions that a board takes no matter
how it is set up or by whom.

Thanks for letting my vent as this is only my
opinion, nothing more).

O'Kema Lewis

School boards are a necessary level of democracy. How esle is the public able to ensure that their interests are being addres if there is no body to deal with their issues. Trust an independent school that is relying on wealthy patron or a charter school that has unlicensed and ununionized teachers. Unions not only advocate for teachers, they promote a standard. We need more democracy, not less. In educational matters and politically in this country, everyone seems so eager to give their rights away. George Bush says leave child behind, but offers no money for programs. He can find 9 billion dollars a month for war, but not for education, and the congress and the public do nothing. They abridge our civl rights and we do nothing. Independent school boards are the best way to have modicom of relief from a system the favors the wealthy, the elite, and the businness interests. If you thinks what I'm saying is hot air, check out who is on the boards and in the administration of those independent and charter schools. i have and it's not pretty. Oh, by the way, independent research has shown that as a group, charter school children score no better that public school children, as a group, on standardized testing.

I guess that school boards have their purpose as long as you have can live with the corruption and politics of it. Say for example, where we live, one BOE member of significant influence made a deal with another BOE member who is the BOE President. The BOE member brought a long time friend in as Superintendent, which we found out through investigating. In return for getting this friend in, the new superintendent picked the BOE President's brother to be Asst Superintendent. The board is supposed to evaluate the Superintendent who now has to evaluate the BOE President’s brother. And the Asst. Superintendent’s wife is a teacher in the same school system. How’s anything going to get done? And now the person who brought in the superintendent is trying to get another board member to suggest that the Asst Superintendent is not qualified. To clarify, that person is trying to break the deal, because the Asst Superintendent is not qualified. In another words starting in-house fighting.
Not to mention friends and families are rampant through the school system, and councilmen who help pick BOE members. And BOE members that mostly only run to become councilmen. Another member who is on the board who is in the clothing business, who wants to bring in uniforms into the school system. I wonder what kind of deal he'll have to make to get that in. What voting or financial kickbacks will he have to pay to get that in. Not to mention that you have BOE County and State that don't reply when you ask information or questions, checking up on the local BOE. I guess that they are as good as any organization in the state.
Most of them have no kids in the school system.
The system is broken. It started good like anything else, but it's broken. And what about 'pay for play'? Not to mention we also have a BOE Television Channel for years. People fighting back on forth trying to get the BOE meetings on TV. Funny that everything that they put on this channel is important, but not the BOE meetings. So how important can they actually be?
Oh, maybe it's just to hide all the going-ons. We think that finally we fought enough to get the meetings on TV. It's supposed to start soon. It's funny that regular people on the board are supposed to hire Superintendents. Ours is called "Dr." - yes he's highly qualified as a Doctor of Music.

We are parents working hard to find out as much as we can - but what you say seems to be true. We have a predominantly Italian town and we belive that that are interest groups (either an Italian group, or councilmen are putting these BOE members in.) They tell the people that they are not going to win, so that they don't run. I did not understand this at first. They would say that this person is not going to run, because he's not going to win. We found out that every time that BOE members are elected, the number of votes is always near the same number. We would tend to back the belief of what you are saying.

We hear much about being out performed academically by many and varied countries. We have looked at teaching models, curriculum, parental involvement and a host of other variables. Have we looked at school boards? Among the countries that are out performing American schools, how many have local school boards in charge of the schools? It is a question worth asking.

A well trained... policy setting board is a blessing. A board running the show is sinful!


The best schooled countries in the world tend to be the most totalitarian. Japan, Germany, and the Soviet Union had the most centralized school systems of their time and look what happened.

High test scores are not what we should be shooting for. High test scores don't guarantee high economic or political success. In fact, they produce just the opposite. We should be emphasizing creativity, self-discipline, democracy, and entrepreneurship. Compulsory test preparation makes the development of these skills impossible.

Any attempts at centralization: school board, curriculum, teacher requirements, are in conflict with democracy.

I believe we should break up school districts into even smaller ones. The more school districts, the better. Power to the parents!

I think that MORE training is needed for school board members. I also think that because board members may be your friends that when they are seated in their board chair "the friends" stops. I live in a small community where school officials & board members are friends, so when you do have an issue you can not get a resolution.

We told you previously how a member of the board went to a music school with our now superintendent and how they both were principals in the same town and how he became first time superintendent in a different town for grades K-8 where he left after only serving one out of a three year contract. We told you how the BOE president had his brother put in as Asst Superintendent. We mentioned that another member worked in clothing and wanted uniforms. Guess what? a survey just went out asking parents if they want uniforms. But before the uniforms issue came up, they sold a school behind closed doors for $2.4 million. They said that they have the right to negotiate privately. We told them that in the policies that they must advertise for bids in newspapers. But they said that they had tried to sell the school in 2006 and got no bidders, but this new deal was covered under the 2006 newspaper announcement. So being disturbed with this, it sounded fishy. And fishy it was. It seems that through research we found out that another BOE member's cousin bought the property. The sale was done with only 4 votes and that one BOE member was pushing hard to get those votes by calling everyone the night before, so that he would have the necessary votes needed. The others were too scared to participate (yes, this was leaked to us). They never vote no, they either abstain or they do not show. For instance, one was County officer who did not show for this vote. And two others abstained. It's amazing how 4 people have the power to sell a school property for $2.4 million Then again it's funny in a sarcastic way, that out of 40,000 people that only 5 attend the BOE meetings. The cousin set up two companies in the same day with different names. One of them had the cousin's name on it and one did not. We are still not sure what that means. So we being parents, decided to ask the State Attorney General to investigate. So far, no answer. We asked the State Education department to investigate. They sent it to the county. The county said that they called the Superintendent and all's in the up and up - investigation over. At that time, we did not have all of the information. They never asked for us anything. We guess that they are friends too. They never even talked with us. We then asked the FBI only to find out that others contacted them too. The FBI is investigating. So far, they said that there's no Federal violations that they can find. They asked the other two bidders how they found out about that the school was up for sale. They said that they don't recall. Oh I forgot to mention, that was through their lawyers, they refused to talk. They tend to think that this is more of a state issue, but said that all the dots are there, but it seems that we can't get the dots connected - in other words proof. It seemed illegal to one board member. It seemed illegal to a county officer. It seemed illegal to us and the other 3 parents. The icing on the cake again is at the last BOE meeting, some guy walked in and announced that he's running for the BOE - we never saw him at any BOE meeting.

Our struggling BOE in the middle of the superintendent's contract rescinded the contract and gave me a new contract for more money and a longer term.

Our struggling BOE in the middle of the superintendent's contract rescinded the contract and gave HIM a new contract for more money and a longer term.

Our conclusion after doing research in different towns and into the State, is that we believe that what is needed are VERY, VERY, VERY STRICT REGULATIONS. One of the major issues seems to be lack of any controls. There seems to be no punishment, too many loopholes. And nobody wants to hear any complaints, nobody to talk to, nobody to turn to within the State and County levels. Ethics violation punishments are a joke or none at all. Sometimes is restricted to being barred from attending a few BOE meetings. If there's any 'friends or family', then the BOE member must be removed. If there's illegal sales of school properties, jail sentences must be imposed. Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and other administrators should come from some sort of private contractor or outside firm. Administrators should be qualified through the private company to verify that they are qualified to do grants and other tasks. No administrator contract should be rescinded until the contract expiration date has passed. There must be some kind of governing body that is not a joke within the government. That must strike hard and swift to resolve in harsh manners any violations, to deter undesirables. And it should also be implemented that you cannot run for town council 3-5 years after leaving the BOE. They can no longer take the option of 'I take no part' in any vote. If you cannot take part in a vote due to friends and family, then you must be dismissed.
This is a brief summary of our conclusion.

I am a FL certified teacher and just posted a link to this forum on a comment post at the local newspaper in this Florida school district where I currently reside.

The shenanigans that have gone on in this school district, for many years, are almost beyond belief. The school board does not seem to have any connection whatsoever to the honest and good citizens of this community.

In the past we have had a school board president -- who was also the head of the local bar association and a criminal defense attorney -- accused of removing a student from classes, for years, to sexually molest the student. This school board president then committed suicide in a local public park after authorities seized his computer. In my book, that is not model conduct for a school board president; yet, his name remains proudly engraved in the multi-million dollar administrative center here.

We have now advanced to an on-going trial and litigation about a conspiracy to violate Sunshine Laws by three school board members who acted outside the law and fired a superintendent, replacing him with what appears obviously to me to be a FAKE superintendent, with bogus credentials, who is here for what I believe to be criminal purposes. I wish I could tell you I am kidding.

In an effort to keep my sanity, I have created a “parody blog” about the current mess. It was recently featured on the St Petersburg Times GRADEBOOK education blog, but since then, I have added some new sections.

If you want a quick overview of the current matter here, scroll down on the left side and read each of the short, eight funny polls, but note the last two polls may not be so funny.
Here is the URL to my parody blog:


(BTW, I am in favor of abolishing school boards and replacing them with parent advisory councils, consisting of a dozen parents, a community member, a teacher, and a student, all serving on a volunteer basis.)

PS Oh - and I almost forgot to mention:

My parody blog really IS a parody blog! It's all just a great big joke! HA HA HA! Laugh it up!

PSS Here again is the URL to my "PARODY BLOG" about the litigation against local school board members:



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