Thursday, August 2, 2007

Detroit School Board deviates

Here's a link to an enlightening editorial concerning school board oversight responsibilities in Detroit Public Schools, which succinctly spotlights a problem facing so many passive school boards in this state:

Detroit Free Press: Begin repairs on Detroit Public Schools (08/01/07)

A board member -- fulfilling her oversight responsibilities -- drew attention to a potential problem, and now the board is investigating.

Unfortunately for children and taxpayers, this type of leadership and attention is rare among school board.

The Michigan Association of School Boards (the MASB) encourages board members to stay out of such operational matters, deeming them
the superintendent's job. Indoctrinated MASB trustees then passionately promote the notion that school boards should focus SOLELY on policy matters, which in effect undermines operational oversight.

Fortunately, it appears there are some trustees in Detroit that recognize the danger inherent in such passive oversight.

To quote the Free Press:

"Also encouraging, it was a board member, Paula Johnson, head of the contracts and procurement committee, who first raised concerns about the pattern of wire transfers of funds. She asked the kinds of questions that voters should expect from their elected stewards but have not traditionally been aired by school board members. More important, Johnson's board colleagues did not engage in their usual infighting and factionalism to stall the probe. It went promptly forward."

Perhaps there is no impropriety by the DPS administration, but a vigilant school board sends a clear signal to administrators and the public that an effective system of checks and balances exists.

Equally impressive was the fact that other board members -- presumably the traditional rubber-stamping MASB-trained type -- didn't stand in the way.

Hopefully whatever they're putting in water in Detroit's that's influencing their trustees will make it's way up here to the suburbs!

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