School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Self-Interest of Board Members Undermines District Governance

October 22, 2013 1 min read
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To the Editor:

The recent article “Superintendents Wary of Boards, Poll Finds” (Oct. 2, 2013) reports just 2 percent of the nation’s superintendents said they strongly agree that America’s school systems are effectively governed at the board level. As a veteran educator and educational leader, my personal experiences echo these results. The findings raise the question of why such ineffective governance exists in our nation’s schools.

School boards are expected to provide effective governance as the foundation upon which a high-quality education for students is built.

In public service, there is a line which separates the opposing perspectives of service of the community and service of self.Many individuals seek election to the board out of a desire to work with fellow citizens and education professionals to provide outstanding educational opportunities for children. Unfortunately, many do not. They cross the line and seek to exploit their position for personal benefit. Some desire to exploit slightly. Others seek total domination over the school system.

The prevalence of exploitative board members must be understood. A flaw in the governance structure of public education in America must be addressed in order to prevent a high-quality education from being stolen from our children.

Matt Spencer

Senior Consultant

Workplace Bullying in Schools Project

Workplace Bullying Institute

Bellingham, Wash.

The writer is the author of Exploiting Children: School Board Members Who Cross The Line (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013).

A version of this article appeared in the October 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as Self-Interest of Board Members Undermines District Governance


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