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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Appreciating School Board Members

I spent about 2 hours talking with Brita Butler-Wall last night at her regularly-scheduled district community meeting. She was gracious, a good listener, and shared her opinions and perspective in an (understandably) guarded and cautious way.

That encounter reminded me of what Andrew Kwatinetz and other long-time education advocates have been saying through this process, which is that our School Board members are volunteers, with no paid staff, who are doing their very best in a difficult situation.

During the school closure process, the superintendent and district staff have been hard to reach --- literally, because they are so overwhelmed with work, and figuratively, because they seem disconnected from the reality of the public schools and the families who send their children there.

By contrast, the School Board members have been quite approachable. I wish all School Board members held regularly scheduled district meetings like Brita Butler-Wall and Sally Soriano do. And yes, all their voice mailboxes have been full for weeks, which is frustrating.

But all Board members have been approachable at breaks during Board meetings. Some have responded directly with personal notes to e-mail. And when I do connect with School Board members, they seem to have a real understanding of the emotions and real-life issues involved when discussing closing children's schools.

So, thank you, School Board members, for all that you are doing. I will continue to question your decisions and criticize your work, but today, I just want to tell you I appreciate your volunteer service on behalf of Seattle's children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to second your comments, Beth. I have the utmost respect for the hard work the Board members do - all volunteers (much like us!) and have appreciated their accessibility and responsiveness. I also feel frustrated at the limited connection we've been able to establish with the district staff. Some of it is definitely understandable and I know there are likely not bad intentions, but it just feels like a giant disconnect and disinterest.