The problem with school boards
There is more than the usual turbulence in public schools these days. It's driven by things like the asinine mandates for kids to wear masks throughout the school day and the introduction of divisive programs like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the school. This squeezes school boards between the professional educrats and an angry community.
In this matter, there is no doubt which side the Democrat party is on. As a way of throttling criticism of school boards, Attorney General Merrick Garland has threatened to sic the FBI on parents objecting to CRT at board meetings while other high-profile Democrats such as Terry McAuliffe are claiming that parents have no right to say what is taught to their children.
In this environment, it is fair to ask what the role of public school boards is. There are two answers. One is the theoretical role of the boards, and the second, and the more important one, is how the boards actually function.
As to the theoretical role of school boards, do an internet search of their role, and it's all pristine Civics 101. This one is typical.
- First and foremost, school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board's agenda — it is the only item.
- School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
- School boards ensure that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.
If only that were so. This brings us to how school boards actually function. In my view, they're typically led around by the nose by the superintendents they hire, who in turn bend to the teachers' unions while all of them dance to the tune played by the education blob in Washington. In this scenario, the role of the community is to provide kids for the schools and the money to run them. The school boards function as window dressing to give the appearance of community control of their schools when in fact little exists.
Things don't have to be this way. But getting back to real community control is a herculean task. Even school board elections are gamed to favor the educrats. How? Board elections like those in Ohio are held in off-years. This guarantees low turnout, favoring progressive activist-types who naturally gravitate to government. And these people are invariably in full accord with the educrats. Also, the school elections are "nonpartisan." This means voters do not know the party affiliation of the candidates. This is vital information. Republicans and Democrats hold widely divergent views as to what constitutes a good education. Conservative Republicans believe in emphasizing academics, while Democrats believe that a person is not well educated unless he is fully indoctrinated and trained to be politically correct.
However, things might be starting to change. In Summit County, Ohio, for example, the Akron Beacon Journal, reports that a third of school board members are not seeking re-election this November. Apparently, the heat from their communities was too much for them. The paper goes on to say mask mandates and CRT/DEI being introduced in the schools are the reasons why. This has translated to conservatives running for school board positions. This is probably being replayed across the country.
The bottom line is that the education blob should not dictate how schools are run. Under its tutelage, the academic performance of American public education has been steadily declining for years while costs have skyrocketed. CRT/DEI and mask mandates can only accelerate this trend. It's almost as if the elite wanted quality education for their kids but to dumb down everyone else's. To end this, communities need to take effective control of their schools. By both words and deeds, the boards need to inform the administrations, teachers, and all others employed in the schools that they are the hired help of the community, not its boss. And with that, nonsense like CRT/DEI and other touchy-feely educational fads and consultants need to be shown the door.
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