This week we launched #SchoolGrowth Thursdays to spark discussion among our followers! This week's question was "What is the biggest challenge facing today's school board?" Look at the answers below, and get connected on Twitter and Facebook to see our question next Thursday!
What is the biggest challenge facing today's school board?
Mary Anne Hipp • "Scott, I am not sure what the biggest challenge is but I have an idea that it is different for different Boards. I am going to suggest words like distracted and overwhelmed. Even Boards that work diligently to adhere to their district Strategic Plan, I sense that they are in an issue battle that never stops. Whether it is funding or mandates or test scores...there are ongoing issues that zap the creative energy and focus of the organization. Perhaps this calls for Board Performance Assessment as the tool to refocus...we don't know what we need to do until we know how we are doing."
SCHOOL GROWTH: Agreed, Mary Anne, each school board is at a different level in the Four Stages of Board Development and has its own unique board culture. The distractions you speak of are most commonly rooted in one or more of these five areas:
1. Conflicts of interest
2. Lack of trust in the chief administrator
3. Poor communication practices
4. Lack of knowledge regarding proper trustee governance
5. Inconsistent leadership from the chair
Funding will continue to be a critical issue for all public and most private schools. The entire business model for operating schools will be reengineered in order to adapt to not only 21st century learning practices, but also modern economic realities.
Board planning and assessment is vital for school growth, and is an important differentiator for high-capacity donors who want to invest in a compelling vision with great leadership rather than donating to a group of leaders who annually manage to a budget shortfall and have no plan for sustainability.
Irina Ghazazyan • "In our times when change is ubiquitous, and no employment relationship is secure in the long-term, youth should focus on finding/creating their unique edge, envisioning how they can use their skills in more creative ways, develop entrepreneurial spirit and mentality."
SCHOOL GROWTH: Practical Intelligence has proven to be a leading indicator for success in higher level academics, at work, and in life in general. That ability to set goals, overcome obstacles, create new ways to solve problems, pursue purpose, etc. As you have pointed out, entrepreneurial skills will be vital in this new economy, but where will they be learned? Is there room in the K-12 school curriculum to teach them? Perhaps these skills and habits aren't an assessed outcome but rather part of the well-crafted classroom experience?
Debbie Ruston • "In a time when underemployment and student debt is at an all time high, we need to recognize the need to teach our youth to take their ideas, skills, knowledge, passions and combine with technology to be self reliant entrepreneurs."
Jodi Dean • "I absolutely agree with you, Debbie. The big problem of today's school board, especially for faith-based, private and independent, is how to function on a school board. Too many school board members, don't understand their roles in giving, enrollment, marketing and leadership. Many just seem to show up, go to a meeting, chat up a storm and then, go home. There are some great school boards, but it's a rarity to run across them."
SCHOOL GROWTH: Comprehension of the habits and best practices of governance does appear to be a leading indicator of board performance and effectiveness, Jodi. Good point! Strategically selecting board members is a fundamental requirement, adding people who have the capacity for a high level of engagement and who want to contribute to a learning organization. The successful board also has a professional development plan that provides the training and support needed to sustain a healthy board culture, compelling vision, and data-driven results. It isn't the chief administrator's job to energize and/or motivate the board!