Education Policy & Practice

Dear EducationCEO

Posted on: January 5, 2010

Dear EducationCEO,

Like you, I am up at 2 in the morning!  I checked my phone and saw that I had an e-mail notification alerting me to a new post on your blog.  The title intrigued me, “Let me set the record straight …”  I couldn’t resisit!  However, please forgive my middle-of-the-night, my laptop-battery-is-low-and-I-don’t-feel-like-fetching-my-powercord-in-the-next-room brief response to one thing in particular that you wrote:   

Perhaps they could ‘color’ their respective boards to reflect the communities in which they serve, and simultaneously make millions each year, per school?

If I read correctly (and please correct me if I am wrong), I understood this comment in context to mean that the boards of KIPP and TFA (among others), are not reflective of the communities they serve.  And though not explicitly stated, I understood you to be talking about the organizations’ national boards.  You’re right, names do pop up in more than one place on the national scene.  But at the local, I feel I can speak to this issue of representation from personal experience, having served a 3-year term on the KIPP Baltimore board of directors.  I believe there is real value in pursuing racial and ethnic diversity at the local level.  What does it really matter if the national board is lily white and estrogen deficient?  At the local level is where I believe board members are going to be most impactful – mobilizing local resources, involving the local community and businesses, and really being champions for our kids.     

So, I’d love to chat with you about this!  Thanks for posting your thoughts – these conversations are necessary. 

– Samantha

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2 Responses to "Dear EducationCEO"

While I believe it is important to have parents incolved in the school level governance, realistically speaking, the national organization still does the majority of the decision-making. My point is that everyone is equipped to ‘fix’ urban schools (especially when the potential to make millions is involved) but no one wants to offer seats to representatives who are in-tune with the communities. Do we really need to start our own, separate charter networks? Actually, there is one such organization created to address this issue: Partners Developing Futures. They are aiming to work with minorities who want to start charter schools and/or networks. Why? Because of the reasons I listed in my blog: We are not present in their boardrooms.

Thanks for reading my blog. BTW, we really need to start going to bed at reasonable hours!

Monise

Samantha, good points about local Boards being where the “action is” and the needed diversity. However, on the national level is where the catalyst for change is reinforced with resources, accountability, mindset and cultural change. I just met with a prospective client yesterday who is heading up the Education Initiative for the 4th largest city in the country and new to her job. Her experience: participating in campaigns, from Colorado, mom was home each day, went to Catholic school and this is her first “real job” at less than 33 years. Another prospect, ran another campaign for a prospect in Nashville, with similar background, but a young man. Both privileged, and not very familiar with the communities they serve.

The true and undeniable reality is that while there are people of color on local Boards, the access to win the opportunity for work, lies in these young hands who more often than not, tend to engage people with similar experience and resumes. This is the challenge and the opportunity, but it is extremely difficult to confront. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Education Policy & Practice

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