Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Poke the Bear!

You know, occasionally I read an article and am so angry at the headline and/or content that I find it difficult to even respond/react.  Sunday’s article in the Dallas Morning News, headlined as “Lawmaker: Trustee training puts kids second” is one such article (click here for a link to the article).  As a ten-year school board trustee, I was offended by the content and innuendo suggesting that trustees do not have the best interests of children in their districts in mind when serving.  The author of the article, Dave Lieber (calls himself the Watchdog but all he really writes is articles that are heavily slanted), clearly had no interest in actually reporting facts, but for many in the media, do facts matter anyway?

So what in the article really bothered me?  First is obviously the headline.  If the intent was to get the reader, in this case me, to read the article, he succeeded with that.  Second was the reference to a Senate education committee hearing in which, among other things, a San Antonio ISD trustee expressed his belief that training provided by the Texas Association of School Boards is “not even close to good enough”.  It would be interesting to me to know what training this individual has actually taken.  Did he attend sessions at TASB-sponsored conferences or did he take courses on line simply to fulfill the state mandated training requirement.  Why did the Watchdog not ask that question?

Third was the passing reference to comments made by Charles Stafford, a Denton ISD trustee currently serving as president of TASB.  The only quote from Charles?  “It’s just not right”.  Knowing Charles as I do, I find it highly unlikely that his comments to Lieber were that brief and that he alluded only to other TASB services.  Why did the Watchdog not probe further (actually, he probably did but the response likely was not in line with the slant Lieber wanted to take) to understand what Charles meant?

Quoting parents and others (somewhat at length, I might add), the Watchdog failed to include substantive thoughts on how those individuals thought the needs of students might be better served.  But that wouldn’t make good press, would it, even if they had offered comments?  Why didn’t the Watchdog ask for input from those he quoted to gather their thoughts on addressing what they see as an issue?
In fairness, Lieber did end his article with a couple of “Solutions”.  One is a suggestion to live stream board meetings so that parents can watch the meetings.  A second was to focus on financial transparency.  Third was a consideration of how to remove trustees who do not act in the best interests of the students.  Are these the solution to what is seen by some as a problem?  They certainly are considerations that should be discussed by trustees so maybe there is some positive to the article.
As a final thought, Lieber’s first word in the article is ‘Guts’, specifically referring to Sen. Kohlhort’s so-called guts in challenging the system that exists today.  What really takes guts, however, isn’t simply to criticize but to actually take action that ensures that the needs of students are the priority.  Let’s look at the big picture, not simply sound bites that sell newspapers, of making education a priority.  

Lieber’s article has, in fact, poked the bear but only if trustees (and former trustees) step forward and continue to demonstrate through their actions that the needs of the more than 5.3 million students drive all that they do.  Maybe that will be something about which the Watchdog might want to write.  Just imagine the headline ... "Trustees: Working on behalf of all students".

No comments:

Post a Comment