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School & District Management Opinion

Oregon School Boards Assoc.: Wuv Us, Dammit!

By Rick Hess — February 08, 2012 3 min read
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Man, I’m glad I never dated the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA). Talk about an inflated sense of entitlement. If the OSBA were a girlfriend, it’d be the one who smashed your car’s taillights because you forgot to pick up flowers to mark your 11-week anniversary (or the death of her goldfish). I know, I know. Been there, right? Not going back.

What’s up? Given that January was “School Board Recognition Month,” the OSBA took the time to identify myriad ways that Oregon’s educators, parents, and students could pay proper homage to their public servants.

Now, some churlish souls might suggest that, given that just 30 percent of Oregon’s fourth-graders are proficient on the NAEP reading exam and that a quarter of the state’s students are chronically absent, the OSBA should perhaps focus more on educating kids and less on feting elected officials. But me, I’m just impressed by the energy the OSBA brought to identifying ways in which kids, teachers, parents, and taxpayers can show their love and appreciation for its members.

Now, before getting into detail about all the things students and educators should be doing to honor board members, the OSBA took care to explain, “There are two important things to remember: First, it’s a good idea to designate one person to coordinate activities. Second, when board members tell us what they like best, the popular response is ‘anything that comes from kids.’ Sincere comments from citizens and parents also rank high.” (I wonder where insincere comments rank?) Fascinating is just how much time and energy the OSBA wants to see educators and students putting into honoring board members as opposed to, you know, teaching and learning. But I guess it’s never too early to start learning how to suck up to elected officials.

From the OSBA’s suggestions, here are the ten that I thought were the most inspired:

10. Elementary students could laminate place mats autographed by the class, for each board member.
9. Provide coffee mugs filled with candy kisses and cocoa mix with rolled up and tied recognition certificates tucked inside.
8. Send a general news release to local media about the governor declaring January as School Board Recognition Month and suggest interviews with your board members on the changing roles and challenges they face in managing America’s most precious, and politically popular, issue!...Also ask the paper’s editorial board or staff to consider publishing an editorial--it’s perfect timing because it’s newsworthy!
7. Have students from foods classes prepare snack trays, (e.g. meats and cheeses) for the January board meeting, along with goodies and coffee.
6. Have schools “Adopt a board member” for the month, by sending cards, inviting him/her to lunch, etc. Make sure students and staff are involved, including teachers, secretaries, custodians.
5. Have students interview board members on what they do on the school board. If the students feel ambitious, they could capture the interviews on video and use the experience as a class project, with a “premiere” later at a board meeting.
4. Students could make cookies or goodies and deliver them to board members at their place of employment.
3. When and where are you biggest staff gatherings? Inservice? Staff-meetings? These are great “built in” opportunities to invite a board member for special recognition.
2. Assign the task of creating cards or booklets of individual student messages for each board member, from students in schools that represent each board member’s zone.
1. And perhaps my favorite suggestion, was: Have horticulture students create gifts of potted plants or floral arrangements; or construction/trades students create wood pencil/pen holders.

The RHSU reader who flagged this fun-tastic little exercise (and asked to remain anonymous so as to stay out of trouble) did wonder how the OSBA somehow overlooked, “Have students make paper maché busts, or Mt. Rushmore-style tributes from milk cartons, to honor board members.” Would welcome reader thoughts as to other bright ideas the OSBA should include next year.

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The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.