Oregon school boards are elected in nonpartisan elections, intended by law to avoid the divisive focus and rhetoric of left vs. right politics, instead asking members to represent the whole community.
Our kids and their futures are too important to be subject to board members’ virtue signals or a particular party’s political agendas, or to serve as steppingstones for aspiring political careers.
I have served on the 509J board for the last four years. Early on we took hours of training encouraging us as a board to set a vision for our schools by creating and annually reviewing 20 to 30 key performance indicators or targets of a top-performing district.
Those targets would measure key areas such as school building standards; school safety; ideal staffing targets and professional growth; student daily attendance and participation in activities; class offerings in technical education, as well as College Now; and, most importantly, the actual measurable annual growth of every student in fundamental areas of study including math, language arts, science and more.
The board, under that training, would then work closely with the superintendent to adopt or revise strategies, policies and budgets to achieve those targets.
The problem: We ignored the training and missed the critical opportunity to focus on district targets that truly serve the needs and expectations of all students.