Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The judge, the jury, and the executioner?

I'm a fan of what Roger Goodell has been able to accomplish with the NFL over the years, but many have complained that he is an example of the old saying "Judge, Jury, and Executioner" which stands for a lack of the separation/balance of power that underlies the basic tenets of our civic philosophy. 

I was reminded of this saying this past weekend when I attended the SCCBOE Charter School "Workshop" on Saturday morning. Let me first say - "Thank You Very Much" to the members of the board for giving up their Saturday morning with their families in order to spend it with the community.  Additionally, the openness of the meeting, interchanging public comments and board comments was a welcome change. Their dedication should certainly be commended, but...

How do you have a workshop with no facilitator, no public note taking, no clear follow-up action plan?  Unfortunately, I needed to leave before the end because large gatherings are still difficult for me, so perhaps everything "came together" after I left, but given the general meandering nature of the meeting, I would be surprised. 

A couple of things did jump out at me from the meeting:
1. Mr Di Salvo asked Ms Cordova, who I understand to me the chief strategy officer for the Santa Clara office of education, ie the very person who had the most interest and to gain in the meeting being successful, as well as responsibility for charter school oversight, a seemingly simple question - "which of our districts has the most charters?"  After a few seconds of silence, she said that she didn't know. WHAT?!?  The whole point of this meeting was to discuss charters. She is responsible for charters. And she can't answer this basic question?!?  Who's driving this ship into the iceberg?
2. There was quite a bit of discussion about the responsibilities of the board with helping "charters" be successful. They actually said that they coach and mentor prospective charters to "get through" the approval process?!?  They actually spent almost a year with one of them to accomplish this. 
Now, some may argue that I am presenting biased opinions in my writings, but I challenge anyone to listen to this meeting, or read these two items above, and come away NOT thinking that something is rotten in Denmark...

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