Ever wonder what your colleagues think of you or the work you are doing?
Members of the Prince George’s County Board of Education had a chance to find out during their recent two-day retreat.
Barbara Anderson, a senior consultant with the Panasonic Foundation, which conducted the retreat, rattled off the answers board members gave to questions asked during individual interviews with the consultants. No names were divulged.
First, Anderson provided responses to what motivated members to become a part of the school board.
“My passion as an activist,” said one.
“Parent with a child in the district,” said another.
Then, Anderson gave the answers to what members thought were the core values that drive the work of the board.
One member said: “I’m not aware of any.”
Some asked: “They exist on paper?”
Another said: “They need to be revisited.”
Anderson gave the answers when members were asked to identify the board’s challenges.
“Dealing with the lingering bitterness over the legislation,” one said.
“We have to learn to trust each other,” said another.
“Creating a vision of the system — a long-term plan that we can stick to,” one said.
“Take things out of the personal realm,” said another.
What is the wealth of the board?” Anderson asked.
“Smart, talented and diverse group of good ideas,” one said.
“Everyone comes from a different set of life skills,” said another.
And how well does the board communicate, Anderson asked.
“The board does not communicate well with the chief executive officer,” said one.
“There needs to be more transparency,” said another. “Sometimes we get material at the meeting.”
Board members also offered advice to Segun Eubanks, the board chairman, in the survey: “Build consensus,” said one. “Reach out individually to ensure trust,” said another.
The board held the retreat to forge a better working relationship and design a game plan for the future. >>> Read more Washington Post
Dysfunctional board behaviors as exhibited in Prince George’s County and Maryland State Board of Education have common denominators throughout the world. The checkpoints we plan to highlight in the next several weeks can help the current Boards in Maryland avoid them and help transform the State to a world class status.
However, “Lack of leadership” is a frequently discussed topic in many school districts throughout the United States and other parts of the world. While the conversation can center on administrators and teachers, the topic seems to surface most frequently when people talk about school boards.
The first indication of a problem is thinking that one’s election to the school board qualifies one to lead. The second symptom is believing that one’s election to the school board qualifies one to lead.
On this planet leadership is not the result of electoral success. There are many ways of showing leadership than managing a lot of money while getting paid in the process. In our yesterday’s opinion piece (see here), we said that, in general, appointed school boards such as Maryland State Board of Education and now Prince George’s County Board, by way of Hybrid, tend to be less willing to fight against the people who gave them those positions in the first place. Sometimes their loyalties are not marshaled to the governor of the State or the tax payers but the person or persons who recommended them for the position. We want a State Board of Education in Maryland and other local school boards in the whole state to be more demanding and transparent. We want school boards that are demanding change, transparency and accountability. We want school boards that are demanding more because that is what is good for our children.
However, county executives in the future should not be given too much influence over their local school boards because the opportunities to corrupt are just too many. The power of the county Executive should be limited to avoid polarization of the local schools. We are seeing some of these issues through the current Prince George’s County Board of Education in several ways. Above all, the county Executive should not have a final say on who serves in the Local Board of Education but the governor in any other future Hybrid Board. This way, if citizens are not happy with specific candidates, they can marshal their discontent to the State Governor.
In today’s competitive environment, school districts have to focus on creating and keeping customers. This means providing quality programs and services in such a way that people want to do business with our schools. These are things that you can’t do if your school board like Maryland State Board of Education and Prince George’s County Board of Education in Maryland are dysfunctional.