In Kansas, school reformers not wanted

Paul Soutar of Kansas Watchdog has found that some members of local school boards who ask for information face pushback and opposition as they try to exercise the type of oversight that many people want. Many people, that is, except those within the public school system. For them, board members are expected to be compliant and unquestioning. From January 2011, and every bit as relevant today.

Kansas Public School Governance: Reformers Need Not Apply
By Paul Soutar

An expert on school policy seems to have summed up what’s going on around the country, including right here in Kansas. “Even if by some miracle a dissenter can slip onto the board, there are tricks that the status quo uses to neutralize that person.”

Tim Blakenship liked using his math and science training to help out at the local high school. He also attended school board meetings and noticed that board members weren’t discussing large expenditures before voting their approval. What he saw motivated him to run for a seat on the USD232 De Soto Board of Education in 2007.

“The biggest thing I talked about during that campaign was the need to scrutinize administrative proposals and ask questions,” Blankenship said. “When I’d come to a board meeting and see that no questions were asked at all. They just voted to do it.”

Kansas Watchdog has heard similar concerns directly from other citizens and board members around the state and anecdotes reported second-hand from others, but few board members have been willing to speak on the record about their concerns.

Continue reading at Kansas Public School Governance: Reformers Need Not Apply.