You MUST show bold leadership
Recently, I submitted a resolution for my fellow trustees to consider. This resolution called for the State of Texas to cancel the STAAR exam (Texas' standardized test) for the 2020-2021 school year due to all of the upheaval caused by COVID-19. When I posted a copy of the resolution after it passed, I received this question on Facebook:
"Do you have any input for school boards who refuse to address this issue claiming they have more important things to worry about?"
What follows is my reply:
"I can’t speak to what other districts see as important in their local situations. I know many are facing severe financial uncertainty. Some are worried about obtaining adequate technology for distance learning in the fall. Some are facing teacher shortages. Each district is unique in what it considers 'important.'
Having said that, I personally think it is vitally important that students not have the stress of a high-stakes exam after missing 1/4 of last school year. I also think it’s vitally important that educators have the freedom to assess each child’s needs individually and to custom tailor their instruction for each kid’s circumstances during these very difficult times without being forced to teach something that the state mandates should be taught at a certain time in a certain grade.
I would tell other trustees that this took less than 90 minutes of my time. I wrote the first draft and emailed it to key administrators for their input in less than 1 hour. It took 10 minutes for me to revise the draft and incorporate their input. And, we discussed the resolution for about 10 minutes at our Board meeting. Student assessment, fairness, equity, and support of our teachers to teach how they need to teach is worth 90 minutes of any trustee’s time."
And, this was just one exchange I had following the publication of the resolution. I don't write this to pat myself on the back. I don't write this to open a political or social debate about standardized testing.
The reason I write this is to discuss bold leadership. When I drafted this resolution and presented it to my fellow trustees, I didn't think anything about what I was doing was bold or courageous. I was just doing my job as an elected school board trustee. My district serves over 66,000 students and has approximately 8,500 employees. They are worth 90 minutes of my time.
During these uncertain times, citizens are looking to their elected officials for leadership and guidance. They are looking to elected officials at all levels to be bold leaders. And, more often than not, the bold leadership for which they are looking doesn't really seem all that bold in the grand scheme of things.
Bold leadership looks like listening to your constituents and your communities and truly HEARING what their needs, wants, fears, and requests are. Bold leadership looks like taking a stand for what is best for the people you serve.
What do your students need? What do your parents need? What does your community need you, as a leader, to do? If you do those things, you are showing bold, courageous leadership.
I didn't draft a resolution as a bold move. I didn't draft a resolution to make a political statement or to "buck the system" or to go after one individual or even one institution. I drafted a resolution because it is what was in the best interests of my students and my teachers.
Bold leadership looks like being the voice for those you serve. Bold leadership looks like doing what is right, no matter what. Bold leadership looks like doing what the people elected you to do.
If you are uncertain about how or when to be a bold leader, or if you serve in a district that has systems and traditions in place that inhibit your bold leadership, let us know. We'd be glad to work with you to remove those barriers and to help you and your board be bold leaders. It's what you were elected to do.