Friday, November 12, 2010

School Boards: Their role in schools

             The National Education Plan (NETP) states that, “education is the key to America’s economic growth and prosperity and to our ability to compete in the global economy… just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences.”

             NETP outlined five aspects that are crucial in the plan for the nation. The areas are learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. In regards to learning, all learners are hoped to have engaging and empowering learning experiences that will serve to make them participants of the globally networked society.

              In terms of assessment; again the focus is on the use of technology, this time with emphasis on measuring and assessing data for continuous improvement. I like the fact that the focus is on using technology, that constantly evolves, to implement and foster the growth and sustainability of these areas.

               Another focus of NETP is teaching. The focus here is on the support of educators “[who are] connected to learning data and tools for using data, content, resources, and learning expertise…and inspire more effective teaching for all learners.” (Page 8) 

               In the area of infrastructure, it is recommended that students and teachers have access to the internet and other broadband services both in and out of school. Of course, the aim here is to support meaningful use of these services that will enhance the teaching and learning environment as well. The aim is to get students to be not only engaged learners, but also to be able to perform in this technologically advancing society.

             Without a doubt, all of the above areas once implemented and continuously improved on, should lead to productivity, which is the final aspect of focus by NETP. Productivity is tied in with the fact that all levels will take advantage of the use of technology with improved learning outcomes being the end result.

               It is now up to schools on the local level to implement the various aspects that are outlined in National Technology plan. Obviously there is a huge emphasis on technology being used to lay the foundation in the advancement of educational opportunites to students.

               In every county/district there is a school board. School boards and their roles will vary depending on where you go. One thing that is sure though, is that these school boards have responsibilities that are tied to the effectiveness and sustainability of schools.It is believed that "these are changing times for public education, and even more challenging is the work of local school board members. Today's local board of education is the leader on the front lines of public education. The board is responsible for putting in place the proper keystones for students to learn and achieve at the highest level possible. Board members' primary agenda is raising student achievement and involving the community in the attainment of that goal."

               On the other hand it is believed that "since the 1980s school boards have been experiencing erosion of power. State regulations have eaten into school board authority from above, while teacher unions and school-based management have worn away at it from below. Instead of viewing recent increased state involvement as usurping school board authority, Conley (1993) sees it as an opportunity for schools to focus their attention on "issues of internal coordination and quality control."

                One thing that is certain is that school boards still play a role, be it on a large scale or not, in developing the school curriculum and making changes that are deemed necessary. The school board in my county plays a huge role in the policies that are implemented. School boards are normally the first entity that is expected to lead reform and change in schools. Watch this video by Secretary Duncan and listen to his charge to school boards. After watching that video I am sure that you see that you see that school boards still have a vital role to play in the school system.

               Like I said before, the school board in my county has a lot of power. They are the ones that pass and implement policies that relate to the classroom and the school in general. There are obviously individuals on these boards that have not been in schools that are web based and in their estimation they turned out fine. I call this resistant to change. It is human nature to stick to what we know. As we say back home "stick to the evil that you know!"

               On the other hand, how can schools educate their boards about web in schools? How can this creative way of teaching be impressed upon school boards? What should be done in order to ensure the support of school boards? of School Boards

               Of course, one has to remember that there are a number of negatives that are associated with web use, such as the risk of predators that prey on the young and inexperienced. One thing that I have found is that everything in life may have negatives. As it relates to internet use if one is taught internet safety then the chances of the negatives having a major impact is lessened.
                As there are negatives, so too are there positives as it relates to the use of the web. Here is a school according to the Columbus Local News that have used the web in interesting ways. Parents can access their students grades via the use of the web. Read the entire story to get the understanding of their use in full. This leads me to the ways in which school boards can be educated about the use of the internet.

               School officials can prepare a tutorial that outlines other schools that may have implemented some of the same web tools that they would love to employ that may have worked. As the article above shows, school boards can be shown how parents can have easy access to their children's grades and completed assignments be simply going online.

               School boards may also be invited to attend classes that have the use of the web being utilized to show the creative ways that the web could be interwoven into the lesson. The school boards should also attend many of the professional development sessions held for teachers, so that they can see and play an integral part in the professional development training that the teachers are getting. The aim is for the board to see that any proposals that they may have been given is being implemented at schools with the teachers being properly equipped with the necessary training.

               School boards could be shown the relevance of the use of the web being used in ways that is applicable to the society that these students will have to be able to function in. For example a teacher could show the use of Wikispaces that he/she may be using daily in class. Many schools use Wikispaces as a teaching tool. Some schools may have a tool such as blackboard, that is similar to Wikispaces. The student would have already been exposed to this mode of instruction in high school, therefore, his/her transition in college becomes that much easier.

                School boards should also be shown students work that they may have completed. The assignments could have been completed by using web 2.0 tools, such as jing. The students could also show how they may have used the web for research as they complete assignments.

              At the end of it all it is important that school board members are shown the ways that the web can help to improve students scores and academic performance. It must be pointed out at this point that students don't learn in the same way. By using the various web tools teachers can expose students to interactive websites that serve to enhance the student understanding of a given topic with immediate feedback. At the end of the day the improvement of student performance is the focus as the technological advancement and capabilities improve daily.

              Without a doubt there are a number of ways that school boards can be educated, some of which I have mentioned. School boards must be shown how the web can be used to enhance the schools' relationship with parents, improve the teaching and learning environment, and foster the growth and sustainabilty of 21st century learning as I mentioned earlier. I hope that you found this blog informative. I am sure that you can think of other ways to educate board members.


  1. If we can show school boards how effective the web can be I'm sure we can get them to not only appreciate but support the use of the web to enhance learning. Great points.

  2. Thanks for publishing the video by the Department of Education Secretary. It is really good to know that there is a genuine interest in Washington in modifying some sharp, dangerous sides of the "No Child Left Behind" Act. I do support the idea of Autonomy for the Local Boards so they can provide their own strategies and solutions for their own particular challenges and needs!It is good to know too, ( Mr. Duncan said it!) that there is funding!!

  3. Thank you for mentioning the School Board's ideal responsibilities. They need to be involved in students' work and share the completion of their research as well.
    I also agree with the idea of educating school board members in using the web, so that they can cooperate more harmoniously with the technology era in the classroom

  4. I also am glad that you included the Sec of Ed's video. It illustrates that it takes a partnership of federal, state, and local governments and well as the school and the parents, to properly prepare our students for the 21st Century.