Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Board Governance and Student Achievement (Part two of a series)

I recently has an opportunity to sit down with my Congressman, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX),  to discuss public education and to better understand his position on matters critical to the continued expansion of opportunities for students in public schools.  The discussion touched on a number of topics, including community engagement (see my prior post) and enhancing relationships with our policymakers.

Through the discussion, there was one theme that resonated with him, that of school board governance and ethics.  I was pleased to hear that since promoting effective school board governance is one of the three pillars of Make Education a Priority (MEaP), a soon-to-be non-profit organization.  MEaP was launched in 2010 as a grassroots effort focused primarily on funding issues related to budget cuts in the Texas Legislature.  Over time, with the support of more than 60% of the 1000+ school districts in Texas, MEaP has continued to be a strong public education advocate.

There now is a great opportunity to focus on the more than 7,000 elected school board trustees in Texas and to provide a vehicle through which these trustees can bond together to advocate for the students in their districts.  But to do so effectively requires that trustees and superintendents must work together toward common goals as an effective leadership team with one singular focus – student success. 

The Texas State Board of Education has adopted a document called the Framework for School Board Development, a document that outlines five key principles: vision, structure, accountability, advocacy, and unity.  Backed by statue and taken individually, each of these principles brings about a critical focus for trustees elected by their communities to serve the students in their districts.  Together, they form a powerful platform to guide decisions and actions by trustees with one singular focus – student success.

In our conversation, Congressman Marchant was adamant that the key to success in public education lies in effective school board governance and ethics, the process we follow to achieve student success.  I noted in a prior post that TEA Commissioner Morath will be more focused on outcomes than process.  Governance is the vehicle that will guide the process to achieve the desired and intended outcomes.  School boards and superintendents that promote and practice good governance truly will demonstrate an ability to Make Education a Priority.

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