I'm supposed to speak with the reporter from the Ridgewood News tomorrow, to talk about my candidacy for re-election to the Board of Education. I was working on some notes tonight...I figure one of the inevitable questions will be, "Why are you running for re-election?" So, thought I'd share my reasons here:
Why am I running again?
I still feel that the BOE is one of the most important ways anyone can serve the community. It’s THE elected office with the most potential to do good.
Every community needs committed, thoughtful, passionate, curious citizens to serve on the Board of Education. I believe I still have all those qualities. It’s been a steep learning curve, and I'm still learning. But I believe in public education and I am fascinated by all aspects:
-- teaching & learning
-- And what I call the “parallel universe” of the school-world culture. It looks like the regular world, but it doesn’t quite operate the same way. It’s often a puzzle and I still wake up every morning determined to understand this bureaucracy a little bit more and to have a positive impact on its evolution.
What have I learned as a member of the BOE?
Last August I wrote a blog post titled “28 lessons in 28 months,” which listed the things I’ve learned. A couple of my favorites were:
#16. There’s more than one way to teach pretty much everything.
#17. Education “experts” don’t agree on almost anything.
#13. For every parent/staff/taxpayer with an opinion, there is another parent/staff/taxpayer with the exact opposite opinion
#2 There are not enough hours in the day
I’ve also learned – or confirmed – that I’m not a politician. I don’t strategize my speaking. I say what I think…not necessarily what others want to hear. I sometimes say things that get me into trouble. You don’t hear me speak a lot at our meetings because I don’t speak unless I have something useful to say. I communicate plenty with our administrators and other board members…I’m the queen of emails and I never run out of questions or suggestions.
But this leads to one of the biggest challenges I’ve had and I still have on the Board – I’m a natural worker. I’m a problem solver. I have ideas for how to do things. And the truth is, that’s not really my role on the BOE. By law, it is NOT the Board of Ed's job to run the schools. It’s the administration’s job to DO, to DECIDE, to SOLVE. It’s my job to make sure the administration has the policy framework and the mission/vision that allows them to work and do and solve. I have to step back and let them do it. THEN, it’s my job, or the Board’s job, to evaluate the performance of ONE person – the superintendent.
It’s been a difficult adjustment…to be less active and more passive…to let the decisions be made and then give feedback. I’m still working through it. Getting better. But still making suggestions, which is not the same as micro-managing, by the way!
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: email@example.com