We’ve heard a lot about publicly elected boards of education lately. OK so it was just one, but I’m also curious about charter boards of directors. Maybe some charter school folks would comment.
As the Denver Green School Partnership took shape, we considered applying for a charter. There were several reasons we decided on a different path but among them was our concern about recruiting and retaining a productive board of directors. We’ve heard stories about boards turning and driving a school into the ground or turning it into something alien to its original purpose.
On the other hand, I have to imagine that high functioning charters have a productive, or at least not destructive relationship with their boards.
Maybe some of the stories are overstated or even apocryphal. Maybe it happens rarely enough that it need not dominate planning for probable futures. We are involved in defining our governance model and I’m very interested in how different approaches play out in practice. I guess my interest is mostly academic since, as I mentioned, we’re already well down another path.
But it’s something I think it’s very important to wonder about. I believe the quality of the adult interactions around a school and the quality of the interactions between adults and kids have a profound and mutual impact on each other.
An important finding from complex systems theory shows that analogous patterns of interaction appear at different levels of organization. That suggests that if we want teachers and students to have respectful, differentiated and optimally developmental relationships, we should establish the same conditions in our adult interactions.
To say that it’s the culture I think misses the opportunity to investigate a variable we don’t know a whole lot about. Governance should provide structure to facilitate the desired culture rather than demand it and create an uphill battle to get it. It should be the path of least resistance (that’s not to say it’s not work to move down that path) rather than pushing a rock up a hill.
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