Saturday, December 08, 2007

Traditional School Boards Need To Go by Akindele Akinyemi


The question going into 2008 is do we still need school boards in the traditional sense to govern over school districts in urban communities?

Whenever a public school system performs as poorly as Detroit or Inkster has over the years, a complete overhaul is in order. A city cannot transform the economy unless it begins to transform the school district. This includes opening the door for more charters to promote educational entrepreneurship as well as discussing voucher options and homeschooling. All are needed to help build a new free market economy here in urban Michigan.

Speaking of free market economics we need to begin first at discussing free market education and how the old traditional form of governing schools has done nothing but led to in-fighting, greed and favors for those who sit on these school boards. For example, what is the real difference between the Detroit Public Schools and Grand Rapids Public Schools Districts? Both have school boards that have not turned out the grade overall for our children, both have failed inner city children and both are struggling to make ends meet fiscally.

People who live in Grand Rapids have a tendency to point fingers on how poor Detroit students are performing in the classrooms but Grand Rapids is right behind. What is saving Grand Rapids is the false image of it being a conservative city. Kent County is conservative not Grand Rapids. If Grand Rapids was really a conservative city the school district would reflect its conservative values to produce students to compete in a 21st century reality.

So Grand Rapids is in the same boat as the rest of urban Michigan.

I think as we move into 2008 that we reconsider the traditional school board because of several points:

Single-issue board members. These are residents who serve on the board because they have a score to settle

Micromanaging. I think a lot of people who serve on school boards like to be administrators. A vision of education is not the first thing to come to mind when people observe board members at work. Board members seem to deal with endless complaints about school bus stops or hand out awards, he concluded in a recent study of city school boards.

Special interest interference. Interest groups, including teacher unions, taxpayer organizations and businesses frequently sponsor urban board candidates and expect quick payback.

Lack of diversity. Nationwide, school board members are largely homogeneous. In Detroit, there are no White or Hispanic school board members. We already know how an all-Black school board has not produced results in a predominately all Black school district.

Also, a lack of interest and competition in school board races means, in part, that when an incompetent candidate lands on a board, he or she can remain there for years. In Detroit, people elected Terry Catchings in District 6 over Paula Johnson. Catchings, a Detroit Pershing graduate, cannot lead by example if he is not paying child support to help his own children.

Only 9% voted in the general elections for Detroit Public Schools.

You have Detroit School Board member Marie Thornton fighting Rev. Loyce Lester in public.

In Inkster, Michigan, you have a school board member on the front page of the Inkster Ledger Star newspaper for beating his daughter inside Inkster High School. Not only this school board member beat his daughter but dragged her in the hallway and hit her head against a locker. He drives a Hummer while the school district has not passed AYP. In fact, Inkster High School is at Phase 4 of AYP.

Is this the type of behavior that we want to follow for our children?

In many school districts with a revolving door for the superintendent, teachers, and, subsequently, students, become demoralized. Large government schools just do not work. They are contributing more and more illiterate students in society that cannot compete for jobs and cannot even graduate on tine from high schools.

I would say that the best school boards are made up of Christian or Saved people but that is a lie also. These people are the same ones that are carrying on just like those who are unsaved.

Let's look at free market education from a Board of Directors standpoint to run our schools in the near future.

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