I am in favor of eliminating not just the urban local school boards but eliminating urban school boards all across the spectrum. The reason? School boards are an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole that deprives children and parents what they need. It is nothing more than a political springboard for higher office.
Originally, what most people do not know is the fact that early on in the 20th century school boards generally had one duty and that was finding teachers. However, in the 21st century school board members are asked to serve on committees that include budget and finance, buildings and construction, policy, technology, negotiations and personnel. Here in Detroit the Black grassroots along with the Detroit NAACP wanted to restore the vote to a traditional school board in 2005. They forgot to add in how Detroit is 47% functionally illiterate and therefore voters are apathetic. The result? Qualified board candidates are harder than ever to find.
In most urban districts across Michigan school boards are as they now exist too often are composed of unskilled, unprepared people elected by a tiny turnout of voters, and that they handicap the students they're supposed to help.
According to the New England School Development Council Bad school boards (like the ones we see in the hood) -- those in constant conflict, with members who meddle in minutiae and don't communicate well with each other -- have districts with lower test scores, fewer kids going to college and more dropouts.
Sounds like Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Benton Harbor, Inkster, Ecorse, River Rouge and Hamtramck? All are liberal Democratic Strongholds.
Those results are supported by a groundbreaking study conducted by the Iowa Association of School Boards. That research confirmed that school districts with large numbers of low-achieving students usually are led by boards with lesser skills of their own. The Iowa researchers looked at districts with high and low state test scores, and controlled for outside factors such as poverty.
Researchers cite several reasons for the public's lack of confidence in board members, including the following:
Single-issue board members. These are residents who serve on the board because they have a score to settle.
Micromanaging. There are many people who serve on school boards like to be administrators. They want to hire and fire the football coach and make decisions about textbooks.
Special interest interference. Interest groups, including teachers, religious groups, taxpayer organizations and businesses frequently sponsor urban board candidates and expect quick payback.
Lack of diversity. Nationwide, school board members are largely homogeneous, but in Michigan even more so.
According to a Michigan School Boards Association study, fewer than 1 percent of the state's board members come from a racial or ethnic minority group of any kind. Nine percent list their religion as something other than Protestant or Catholic. And school boards usually don't include members who are low-income.
1. Consolidate School Boards like Detroit Public Schools under Wayne RESA.
2. Establish Educational Empowerment Zones in Urban Depressed Areas.
3. Look into pushing for Educational Economic Precincts.
4. Breaking the cap off charter schools in Michigan.