Monday, March 30, 2009

Big Brother Is Watching

The school board is a scary beast. With little to no experience, you can be elected to the school board because voters are under the impression that these folks aren't very important.

Yet time and again, school board members exercise more power than we give them credit for. The highlight of questionable school board decision making in history is clearly Brown vs The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. However, from religion to evolution to banning of books, school boards often control the future of our children (and therefore our society) more than we expect.

Here in Pittsburgh, our school board members have a history of hacking and slashing at schools without asking for input while parents yell. Then when the school board plans a study regarding future hacking of schools:

The study already has drawn criticism from school board member Randall Taylor, who said the work should have been done before the district closed 22 schools in June 2006.

I say: Better late than never.

Tonight, the school district is holding a "city-wide community dialogue" on the future of Pittsburgh schools. Attendees will receive an overview of the district plans and pass out questionnaires. Additionally, the district is offering free transportation from the area high schools to the location. I think it's a great idea to try to get all these parents in one place and ask for their input.

To the parents of children in Pittsburgh schools, try to attend this show.

To the school board, send these questionnaires home with the report cards. Pass them out at parent-teacher meetings. Get these surveys into the hands of as many parents as possible. Not just to the parents who have the time and energy to show up at your meeting. Also, it's not a "dialogue" if attendees aren't allowed to talk.

To the Post-Gazette, try to publish this information more than a day in advance next time.

To the Tribune-Review, try to publish this information.

As a note: Kudos to the Pittsburgh Public Schools for trying out twitter. In the past month, they have made 72 updates. It's a new and innovative way to attempt to reach parents. Between twitter and tonight's meeting, it seems like the school board is attempting to address their recent lackluster C+ grade from a community watchdog group. Let's make sure they keep it up.

1 comment:

Steven Bone said...

To be fair, the Trib did publish a story on this (including information on transportation) in Saturday's edition of the Trib - long before the P-G did.

The event information was first 'publicized' on the web from the PPS on the 24th, and probably snail-mailed to the various newspapers on the same day. Something that took as much planning as this could have been announced through 'save the date' announcements even without having specifics long ago.

I don't believe true openness or dialog is desired by any political board - if it were, then this event and several others before it would have been significantly better publicized.