To the Editor [Re: “School Board Grows Tired of Itself, Requests Dismissal,” Issue #317]: Leave it to Community School Board 2 to take the lead once more in the area of common sense. Kudos to Karen and the rest of the Board. The 1996 legislative changes made education governance an irrelevant concept when it comes to school boards. The only function remaining was the “community input” role, which is extremely important but does not warrant the maintenance of a cumbersome system such as community school boards. They might as well fade away.
Anne MacKinnon’s proposal for alternate boards, however, is well-intentioned but replaces one set of politics for another. Established players buying in to a governance system consisting of already established players is not the challenge in education; getting a “buy in” from rank and file parents in order to keep the established players on their toes is both harder and more necessary.
Let’s take the budgetary savings from eliminating the community school boards and accompanying elections and hire one parent involvement coordinator for every 5 to 10 schools in the city under the supervision of borough-based assistant chancellors. Committed and compensated organizers will better educate and encourage parents regarding their children’s education and will also provide the basis for real political empowerment. Having 90 to 100 coordinators report to the chancellor’s office will keep district superintendents on their toes, minimize burnout on the part of the coordinators, allow for alternate sources of intelligence on the performance of schools, and provide a real opportunity to develop “best practices” regarding parent involvement issues.
In the end, information and a supportive infrastructure are two pillars of successful parental involvement and, in the long run, success in education.