Black box or black hole?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cracked open the sealed box
of school boards—and didn’t like what it saw inside. While many
Atlanta-area board members are experienced and educated leaders, others
are untrained in budget creation and execution. Some have documented
histories with money mismanagement; forty percent have personal
financial problems, even as they control multimillion dollar education
budgets. Investigations by the AJC also uncovered nepotism—at
least 35 percent of school board members polled had family members who
worked in their district—and a failure by the state to police training
requirements for board members. To ease these woes, the paper highlights
suggestions for reform: Set education requirements for school board
members and mandate training for new and incumbent members alike.
Unfortunately, these weak-kneed changes—which aren’t likely to occur,
anyway—cannot get at the heart of the issue so well-articulated by the AJC.
Instead of inconsequential changes like requiring school board members
to have a high school diploma, why don’t we saw the lid off the box,
empty it out, and truly rethink the way we structure school governance?
“Few study power of school boards,” by James Salzer and Nancy Badertscher, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 10, 2010.