The Board says that they want the District Staff to solicit, respond to, and seriously consider public input. They say that, but they won't put any authority or accountability behind it. They also say that they will model the behavior they want to see. So how well does the Board solicit, respond to, and seriously consider public input? Not so well.
The most salient public input the Board gets is the public testimony they hear at their regular legislative meetings. What happens to that public input. What evidence can we find that they listened to it, responded to it, and seriously considered it? The short answer is: little or none.
First, does the Board actually solicit public input? Not so much. You can write to them, send them e-mails or call them on the phone any time you like. I suppose you could also try to schedule an appointment to meet with them, but being available for public input isn't exactly soliciting it. And then there is, of course, the public testimony - up to twenty people are allowed up to three minutes each. You can speak on any topic but those speaking to agenda items go to the front of the queue.
Presumably the Board is working on a new student assignment policy, a new high school math curriculum, and the southeast initiative. They have not done anything to solicit public input on these topics since they were impaneled - other than accept incoming emails on these topics. There have been no "drop-in meetings", no open conversations, no interactive, two-way communication. With two significant exceptions: Director Bass continues to hold community meetings and Director Martin-Morris has his blog and his monthly Saturday morning coffee hours. These two Board members deserve credit for their individual efforts to gather public input.
Does the Board respond to the input they receive? That has not, generally, been my experience. They certainly do not respond to public testimony. At her first Board meeting the Superintendent said that she was tracking public testimony and the responses to public testimony on a database. I'm not sure that is really happening. She said that answers to questions raised in public testimony would be answered and some of them would be answered on the web site. I know that isn't happening. She said that folks from customer service would be at Board meetings to address concerns and complaints and I know that isn't happening.
As it was so it continues to be. People get up at public testimony, they speak for three minutes, and their words pour into the abyss from which there is no return, no response, no nothing. They may as well still be rehearsing the talk in front of their bathroom mirror for all the impact in evidence.
So how does the Board and the Superintendent expect the staff to solicit public input, to respond to public input, and to seriously consider public input when there is no evidence that they are doing so themselves? It's not very sincere, is it?
The only knock on the Superintendent in her Performance Evaluation was inadequate public input on capital projects. The question is, do the Board members recognize how disingenuous and hypocritical they appear or are they actually oblivious to the fact that they are equally guilty of the flaws they find in others? I'm not sure which answer I would prefer.