Board Needs To Believe In Its Own Product

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One of the basic tenets of those in the education business ought to be "Information is our friend."

After all, they are in the business of imparting information, and if they don't believe in their own product, how can they expect others to.

And yet there has always been a tendency by school boards and educators to play it close to the vest when it comes to imparting information. Not just our school board, but all school boards.

A kind of educator's mentality seems to take over, as in the elementary teacher who talks real slow and simple to everybody because she's so used to doing it in front of a class -- the notion that you have to dumb things down for the general populace.

Whatever the dynamics, it was interesting to watch your school board ignore a significant body of information in determining the school calendar for the 2004-05 school year.

That information was culled from a survey of parents and staff regarding their satisfaction with the current modified school year schedule. The survey was developed and implemented by the Superintendent's Advisory Committee (SAC) at the request of Superintendent Herb Weissenfels.

The SAC crafted the survey to be short, clear, and easy to understand. Three drafts were tested to make sure the questions could not be misunderstood.

A total of 3,250 surveys were sent home with students Sept. 8 and collected Sept. 16. Just about half of the surveys were returned -- a phenomenal rate of return as surveys go.

And the results were equally overwhelming. More than 70 percent of those responding said they liked the current school starting and ending dates and lengths of vacation.

Of the 27.5 percent who wanted changes in the calendar, only 13 percent wanted one of the two-week breaks shortened to one week.

So what did your school board do? Despite overwhelming evidence that it wasn't what parents and teachers wanted, they voted to shorten the two-week fall break to one week and to start school a week later. The only rationale given was that three board members indicated they had received some phone calls asking them to do so.

Why didn't the school board's decision reflect the clear will of the people? Or at the very least, why didn't the school board justify ignoring the results of the survey.

The answer seems obvious. They don't believe in the value of their own product -- information.

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