I posted this about three years ago (Jan 2008). Given the situation in Illinois, particularly with education waste and featherbedding, I think it bears re-posting. Think about the nature of the people educating your kids.
Elaine Johnson seems like a regular everday citizen. She may be a little out of the ordinary in that she also started a very good local blog in Downers Grove. It’s amazing. You take a little time to look into things, and slowly but surely you start to notice just how things actually work – particularly with school boards.
Voters were told the board’s responsibility is to put children first and to hire the superintendent. The board acts as a single unit, not as a congregation of individuals motivated by personal agendas – a concept further underscored when incumbents of District 58 and Community High School District 99 ran together as a single slate.
“School boards don’t have a lot of power other than hiring the superintendent,” says Jim Russell of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the voluntary organization that counts 98 percent of the state’s school boards as members.
Indeed, the Illinois School Code highlights the board’s role in hiring, directing and evaluating the superintendent and states that members have no legal authority as individuals.
But it also allows boards to “exercise all other powers not inconsistent with this act that may be requisite for the proper maintenance, operation and development of any school or schools under the jurisdiction of the board.”
The question is: Why don’t they? Why don’t our school board members interpret their duties in the broadest possible terms, initiating policy and holding administrators accountable as other elected officials do? Why do they accept a role that is in large part ceremonial and supportive?
The answer may lie at least in part with the Illinois Association of School Boards, which tries, as Russell says, to “create a philosophy or culture” among its members. My husband, who ran unsuccessfully for the District 58 board last spring, received a packet of IASB handouts explaining the role and duties of a school board member.
Further training encourages individual members to “submit themselves to the overall board,” Russell says. “You have a voice, yes. You are supposed to represent the public, yes. But the board works as a unit. We don’t discourage members from speaking or asking questions … but the district and the community have to hear a single voice.”
This excellent article highlight a singular truth that I have been trying to beat into the heads of people across the political spectrum. School Boards and “districts” are merely facades that provide the appearance of local control. In fact, there is next to no local control at all.
The article also highlights the dark nature of the IASB in particular and school administration in general. By Mr. Russell’s own words, he exposes “Adminstration” for the anti-democratic, anti-free speech, and essentially fascist mindset that they promote.
!!!! “We don’t discourage members from speaking or asking questions … but the district and the community have to hear a single voice.” !!!!
The first part of the above sentence is an outright lie. Members are discouraged from speaking all the time. As some one who follows the antics of school boards and the oily adminstrative class closely, I can attest to the aggressive tactics used by these protectors of financial malfeasance and legalized money laundering.
The second part of the above sentence is even worse than the outright lie, for it reeks of the of enforced conformity and political correctness that have become a cancer on our culture. Any board member who steps out of line is first politely asked to fall in line. If this fails, the gloves come off, and the “education mafia” goes into full attack mode.
Here is a simple fact that most parents and citizens don’t want to process. They practice a dangerous brand of denial regarding their schools. The fact is this. If there is “harmony” on your school board, then corruption is going unnoticed. The legalized money-laundering that now has metastasized to so many districts that the only politically “healthy” districts are the ones where there is “disharmony.”
I’d be happy to hear of any exceptions.
Please wake up people. Re-read the quote by Mr. Russell of the IASB. Please understand the dark, dangerous, and vile nature of his ideology. It is fundamentally anti-freedom, anti-democratic, and anti-American. These are the people that are picking the curriculum for your kids. Mr. Russell’s views and the curriculum are far more in lockstep than you are permitting yourself to see.