In 2009-2010 our local school district went through an extensive process engaging 44 members of the community in building a Comprehensive School Improvement Plan(CSIP). This process, required for accreditation, can either be an investment, creating a substantive and useful tool as it was for us, or simply another bureaucratic pile of paper sitting on a shelf. What typically happens with CSIPs is these plans are dusted off every four or five years. Only a few districts, ours being one of them, actually put the plan into action. Being a community leader and wanting to guide your school to excellence is the reason to run for school board. You need to understand what you are walking into.
In our CSIP is listed the following mission statement:
The Affton School District in partnership with the community is dedicated to supporting the intellectual and social growth of its students in a safe, purposeful, stimulating learning environment, inspiring them to become productive citizens in an ever-changing global society.
An effective school board member will be absolutely dedicated to a similar mission statement. The point of a school is to create productive citizens out of our children. At some point our society forgot that charge. All too often we see schools that care little about teaching productivity and creativity. They focus so much on teaching particular ideas they forget that every new generation has an opportunity to advance further than the generations before. If you are passionate about building our future, you should run for school board.
The most rewarding moment for me as a school board member is handing out diplomas at graduation. It has been very satisfying as a father to hand diplomas to my children and their friends. But that has not touched my heart like handing a diploma to a student I know comes from a broken childhood. One that has a bright future because of the education and opportunity they have received. A student whose future was changed by being in our school. If you get excited by hope in a young person’s eyes, you should run for school board.
Schools that strive for excellence bleed into the community around them. Behavior that is expected in school will affect a students behavior at home or at work. In many cases the school is filling holes left by neglectful parents. We cannot ignore the fact that we have a high percentage of kids that are, in effect, parented by the schools. When we teach character, when we have high expectations, when we push for excellence, we can change an entire community. If you want to improve the character of your community, you should run for school board.
Being a productive citizen should include public service. One of the biggest challenges facing our government is the proliferation of career politicians in a two party system. The fact that most of these politicians are lawyers compounds the problem. While it is natural for a legal mind to be drawn to our governmental systems (it is the basis for their training), they only make up a very small portion of our society. We need leaders from all walks of life who will represent the spirit of the law not just the letter of the law. If you want to be a productive citizen you should consider running for school board.
Often there is a void of leadership in local school boards. You can hear it at the meetings and read it in the media. Petty disagreements, personal vendettas, and egos all too often take center stage. What should be taking center stage at all times are the students. How can there be any other focus? The point of our schools is education, so the point of our meetings to govern the school districts should be focused in the same place. If you are a leader who can maintain this focus, you should run for school board.