I don't know what job the members of the school board came to do. I don't know what job they think they are doing. But I do know what job they aren't doing: they aren't doing the Board job.
The Board job begins with serving as the elected representatives of the public. But the Board members aren't representing the public's voice in Seattle Public Schools. They certainly aren't advocating for the public's perspective. We know that they aren't because if they were, we would hear them begin their sentences with the words: "My constituents want... " and they don't. We don't hear them say "My constituents want equitable access to language immersion programs." or "My constituents want equitable access to Montessori programs." or "My constituents want access to a real Spectrum program for their Spectrum-eligible children." or "My constituents want reduced class sizes." We aren't hearing that. And we sure aren't hearing them follow these statements with "So let's make it happen for them."
The Board isn't the voice of the public in Seattle Public Schools and they don't advocate for the public's voice to be heard. They will not stand up for community engagement. They don't insist that the staff deliver on community engagement promises - such as the unkept promises in the strategic plan. They won't reject a motion based on the lack of community engagement. They send the staff the clear message that they can skip community engagement because it isn't important.
This shouldn't be surprising since the Board has the worst community engagement practices of any department in the District. Their primary community engagement is the citizen's testimony at Board meetings and they do not respond to it. They don't respond at the meeting and they don't respond after. Citizens speak into the void. They can claim that they get email and voicemail - but we know how well and how much they respond to that as well. Some of them have community meetings, but do they really expect people to attend or arrange seven meetings? That's an undue burden on the citizen. Why not just respond to the concerns that they get when they are all together?
The Board job is also to supervise the superintendent. They don't do it. They don't correct her when her decisions and actions violate state or federal law. They don't correct her when her decisions and actions violate Board Policy. They don't require her to provide legitimate rationale for her decisions. Examples abound: unfair labor practices, failure to provide complete records to the Court, failure to consult with alternative school communities before assigning principals, indefensible program placement decisions, etc.
The Board also has failed in their duty to seriously consider the motions before them. A Court has already found one of their decisions to have been arbitrary and capricious. They approved the $756,300 contract with Education First without knowing what it was about. They approved the $800,000 contract with NTN without even reading it.
Again, I don't know what job the Board members came to do. I don't know what job they think they are doing. But they are not doing the Board job. They need to step up. And if they are unwilling or unable to step up, then they should step down.