Public Wants More Dialogue, Not Less

This is the speech delivered by Dear JCPS Board Member William Komp at the 2/23/16 Board Meeting.

williamDear JCPS,

Two weeks ago, this board waived the rules, proposed, waived a second reading and then approved a measure which was meant to increase the efficiency of the board’s time. This proposal included:

1) All questions for JCPS administration be submitted ahead of time
2) No requests for new reports come directly out of meetings
3) Signing of a pledge to follow the rules
4) The chair can “talk” to a board member about not following the rules
5) Brady is to be banished to the wood shed and grounded from his xbox

With this policy, the chair can ground my board member because they aren’t playing nice on something that appears in a presentation in the name of making the board more efficient. This may make the board more efficient in terms simple metrics like topics per minute. However, school enterprise decisions are not best served by such simplistic thinking. Substance is the key to education. Quantity is not necessarily better than quality. There is no simple ROI to be computed here. There is no simple model to compute the interactions that occur in education. Wiser systems focus on open observation and discussions to advance forward.

This is a body that governs schools where one of the most fundamental methods of learning is to ask questions. Suppose a fortune 500 company were to stop permitting questions during their meetings? How much would that cost the company? What if only people in the area that is hosting the meeting were the only ones allowed to speak? How much would that cost them?

Of paramount importance is that when my elected representative board member is asking a question not in the script or suggesting a change to a report to give better insight then my board member is doing what I elected that person to do which may not fully reconcile with some arbitrary pledge. The most important pledge that my board member took was the pledge to serve on the board as the voice of the families and taxpayers of that district. If the board member has to break the rules in the eyes of the chair to fulfill the needs of the voters then so be it.

A similar report suggested limiting speeches from the public. Currently, the public is not allowed to rebut some presentations or reports in the same board meeting as they were given. Perhaps, when there are many public speakers wanting to speak at the meeting that the board should take notice and appreciate the desire of the public to contribute to the dialogue and perhaps work to complete the dialogue. It should be more open to public concerns and not less so. This organization is not a private corporation. This is a public institution. Perhaps more “successful” boards are more successful for reasons outside of board members not providing softball scripts for the administration to easily handle. Success sometimes requires tough questions that come out only in divine moments. If one such moment occurs during a board meeting and my board member is prepared and inspired by it then I consider that question a service well done by asking it!

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