The Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools has four primary functions... and they fail to fulfill each of them.
The Board, first and foremost, are the elected representatives of the public, but this Board doesn't represent the public at all. This Board doesn't raise the public's concerns, doesn't relay the public's wishes, and doesn't voice the public perspective. I almost never hear the Board members talk about the public or their constituents saying "People are concerned about.." or "People want..." or "People see it this way...".
The Board doesn't voice the public perspective and certainly doesn't advocate for it. Worse, the Board doesn't advocate for the public to have a voice for themselves. The Board is no champion of community engagement. The Board regularly approves motions with inadequate community engagement and regularly approves motions with NO community engagement. The Board hasn't demanded improved engagement from anyone and hasn't even demanded that the staff provide the community engagement that they promised to do. The Board's own community engagement is just about the worst of any workgroup in the District. Their primary community engagement practice is testimony at Board meetings and they never respond to the people who come and speak to them there.
The Board's second primary function is to supervise the superintendent. You don't need me to tell how this isn't happening, the state auditor just did it more convincingly than I ever could. In their response to the auditor's finding that the Board's oversight has been inadequate (or, rather, non-existant), the District simply agreed. So it's not even in dispute. The Board is failing in this function.
Likewise the auditor found - and the District agreed - that the Board was not fulfilling its function of enforcing policy. Again, this is not in dispute. The Board doesn't even have a process for enforcing policy. During and after the 2007 election there was a lot of talk about "governance". Despite the fact that nothing was decided and no action was taken, no one talks about it anymore. Without providing any oversight and without providing any policy enforcement, the Board isn't fulfilling any governance role at all.
The Board has done marginally better in its fourth and final function: to approve those things that legally or administratively require Board approval. This includes appropriations, contracts, grant applications and such things that, by law, require Board approval. This Board does approve things. In fact, they approve everything brought before them. This Board has yet to reject even a single motion brought to them by the staff. This 100% perfect record of approval doesn't make them a rubber-stamp, but it doesn't make them any different from one. No, what makes them a rubber stamp and a failure in their function is their refusal to review items prior to approving them. This Board voted to approve a $750,000 contract with a consultant on curricular alignment immediately after each of them admitted that they didn't know what curricular alignment was about or what services the consultant would provide. This Board approved the $800,000 contract with NTN without reading it. Heck, they approved that one twice!
This Board utterly fails to fulfill any of their four primary functions. This is, truly, a dysfunctional Board. The Seattle Times likes to call the previous Board dysfunctional, but that Board represented the public, supervised the superintendent, enforced policy, and reviewed items prior to voting on them. That Board worked. This one doesn't.
So there's little wonder that there are folks who want this Board to step down.
Not me. I don't want the current Board to step down. I want the current Board to step up.
I want them to step up and do the job they campaigned for. I want them to step up and do the job they said they wanted to do. I want them to step up and do the job they promised to do.
Then, a little over a year from now, when their term of office expires, I want them to go away and let someone else do the job that they refused to do. I want them to make room for someone who actually wants to do the job.