It seems the state board of education has four choices as to what they can do in reaction to the SACS report.
First: Replace the entire board of education. I do not think they will go here. The reason being that the law drawn up to replace “unruly” boards is most certainly unconstitutional. Right now the Governor can hold this potential “Sword of Damocles” over any misbehaving board of education. As soon as he plays that card his power is gone. The law will be challenged and boards of education will probably win in court. The strength is in the threat to use the law; not actually using it. Our legislature really fumbled the ball on this one. Ask your DeKalb delegation about their thinking process on this one. I would love to hear that answer. It was “shoot from the hip” legislation. I believe one county is going to court. Their meeting with the state board of education was postponed. I wonder why? When you play the trump card you will see the emperor has no clothes.
Remember, if you replace the entire board and the state picks the replacements, you will have political appointees. They will be there for maybe 18 months and then you have an election. What will be the result? You will return the same kinds of people with the same thought processes as we have now. They might also put in a new superintendent. That will certainly be a political appointment. To what end will this take us?
Second: Force the BOE to sign a consent agreement showing remorse and agreeing to some ” facts” shown in the SACS report. Many things in the report are nebulous and did not clearly show who did what. Some board members have no real knowledge of some of the events described in the twenty-page SACS report. That would include me. I would not sign something like this because I would be agreeing to things of which I had no knowledge.
Third: Sign a consent agreement endorsing the possibility of using a portfolio type of strategy. Some of the DeKalb board would never sign on to this willingly. The reason…. It gives power to the communities and the schools and will probably, over time, result in less need for a board of education. The egos of most, but not all, of this current board will get in the way of choosing this avenue. Personally, I think it is the best possibility to do something for our students.
Why a portfolio? It addresses some basic needs and would make fundamental changes in the way the public schools approaches their educational product. It meets SACS accreditation expectations. It eliminates governance policy and advocacy issues on Boards. It provides real community involvement to meet specific needs in specific schools and communities. Finally, and most important, it creates a new governing system that keeps a better handle on the financial aspect of a school system.
I would choose the portfolio approach because it would address the needs of our students. It puts the onus on the community to pick its staff, Principal, board of directors, etc. At the end of two years you evaluate what you have. It allows you to replace the leadership, teachers, board of directors, and hire new folks to follow the strategy that has been carefully crafted for that particular school. If it never measures up then you close the school and constitute a new one.
Lastly, the state board could choose to do nothing. I think this is where they will land. There will be an agreement signed, but it will probably be full of air. It will have no one agreeing to anything they have done wrong, but will promise to come together and work to solve the issues that have fragmented the system. The problem here is that no real fundamental change will occur in the near future. Loser? The students and taxpayers of DeKalb County.
There you have it. Let’s see what the hearing today will bring.
Oh, you should also read “The Rise of the Accreditor as Big Man on Campus” in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL on January 14, 2013. It presents an opinion on SACS which is almost in lock step with mine. It is written by former Colorado Senator and President of the University of Colorado.