At the last Board meeting, the Board introduced a motion to approve and adopt Board and Superintendent Evaluation Instruments.
I will discuss the Superintendent Evaluation Instrument later. Today, I have to point out how completely horrible, inadequate, inappropriate, and misguided the Board Evaluation Instrument is.
The Instrument keys off of the Board's Affirmation of Responsibility, which is, itself, a horrible, inadequate, inappropriate, and misguded document.
Here's the fundamental problem with both of them: they don't address the Board's job. What are the Board's functions, duties and responsibilities?
1) The Board is - first and foremost - a policymaking body. Yet there is nothing in this Evaluation Instrument that asks if the Board is fulfilling that function. The sad answer is that they are not doing a good job of setting Policy. Where is our Student Assignment Policy? The Board is very late with it. The Board has not made much progress on the huge backlog of policies that need to be updated. In large part because the Student Learning Committee has only met twice since this Board was seated. The Board is failing in this task.
Part of making Policy, as I frequently point out, is enforcing Policy. This Board has not done anything to enforce Policy. There are a number of Policies that are regularly violated without mention. The ones on promotion and non-promotion leap to mind. There is good reason to believe that the administration of Special Education programs may be in violation of Policy, if only because it may be in violation of the law.
2) The Board is supposed to supervise the Superintendent. The evaluation instrument and the affirmation of responsibility creates the illusion that the Superintendent leads the Board or that they have a peer relationship. They don't. The relationship is supposed to be hierarchical and the Board is supposed to be on top. This Board follows the Superintendent rather than leading her. The Board is failing in this task.
3) The Board is supposed to adopt curricula. Unfortunately this Board has not done so. They are very late with a high school math curriculum. There is some question as to whether the changes in the State K-8 Math Standards doesn't require a corresponding change in our K-8 math curriculum, but the Board hasn't even opened the topic. Who knows where we stand on Reading, Writing, and Science? Despite having adopted a P.E. curriculum, the Board is failing in this task.
4) The Board is supposed to require and consider periodic reports on educational programs including annual reports on school district programs. They haven't asked for any reports and, so far as I can tell, they haven't considered any.
5) The Board is supposed to require and approve effective plans for maintenance and operation of school properties. For all of the time the Board has spent on property management, I can't say that they have any effective plan.
6) The Board, like all other District staff, should have a community engagement element in their performance review. How well has the Board welcomed, considered, and responded to public input? I would say not very well at all. The Board gets public input at every meeting through public testimony, but they do not respond to it and there is no evidence that they even consider it. How well do individual Board members do with public engagement? Two of them, Directors Bass and Martin-Morris, do extremely well. They meet regularly with the community, they respond to emails and phone calls, and they act on the input they receive. The next tier down, Directors DeBell and Sundquist, do some of those things some of the time. Then there are Directors Chow, Maier, and Carr who don't do those things at all.
7) Finally, is the Board getting evaluated as a single entity or will each Board member be evaluated individually? It's important because accountability is strictly personal. Shared accountability is no accountability.
The Affirmation of Responsibility provides a very poor measure of the Board. A better measure would be a similar checklist based on Policy B61.00.
I do not, however, expect this Board to judge themselves by that Standard because they know how poorly they would rate. Instead, they will judge themselves by the Affirmation they wrote for themselves which does not measure their effectiveness at all. That is, of course, the final fatal flaw in this design: no one can hold themselves accountable. Accountability requires external enforcement.