LIST OF ISSUES
California took one step in the right direction in 2013 with the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) but it was just one step. For California schools and students to once again rank at the top of the nation, we need to take more than one symbolic step. To borrow a phrase from President Theodore Roosevelt, school boards should use their position of influence as a “bully pulpit” to demand from our state elected officials continued structural reforms to our educational system. Who better knows the unique needs of our children than those who interact with them at the local level?
We need to get state government out of school district governance. School districts have one central purpose . . . to educate our children. Significant financial resources are being wasted on bureaucratic regulatory requirements which prevents those resources from being directed to classrooms, education programming, and the professionals that bring knowledge to our children.
We also need to get government out of the classrooms. School districts spend significant financial resources to hire professionals with advanced degrees from quality institutions of higher education to educate our children only to micromanage every detail of their career.
We need to encourage our educational system to have the same innovative spirit as the nation’s top companies. The reason why companies achieve the elite status of being a Fortune 100 company is because they innovate . . . and the reason why they remain on the list is because they never stop innovating. One only needs to look at what happened to Kodak to see what happens to a venerable company when it stops innovating. The best way to harness innovation is to allow creativity to take place at the local level.
Strategically Tailored Resources
Folsom Cordova Unified School District is a highly diverse district. Its diversity is one of its greatest strengths. However, with such a diverse district, the needs of its students are often radically different from neighborhood to neighborhood. A one size fits all approach does not work. Consequently, school boards need to set policies that encourages programming and services at school facilities that are strategically tailored to the needs of the students the school serves. In one school it might be offering the teaching staff the ability to attend a professional development class focused on a particular issue common at their school. In another school it may be enhanced early intervention programming. And in a third school it might be establishing a full day kindergarten option.
Transparency Through Engagement
Some of the biggest controversies in school districts (and life) seem to stem from basic misunderstandings between parties who ultimately seek the same outcome. The easiest way to avoid unnecessary conflict is to seek what I call transparency through engagement. When parties are included in the process, there is greater understanding and respect for the outcome. For example, if parents or taxpayers are concerned with the school budget, a bond proposal, or library spending then the school board should establish a Citizens Advisory Committee to gain a broader perspective and engagement in the process. People should never feel powerless and lacking a voice when it comes to something as important as our educational system.
School & Business Collaboration
Education and economic empowerment go hand-in-hand . . . one rarely exists without the other. With such an impressive list of companies with offices in Rancho Cordova and Folsom, our community should never have an issue in producing a high-quality, workforce-prepared graduate that is employable by local companies upon graduation. The school board should find new opportunities and approaches to facilitate partnerships with local companies, whether it is a guest lecture program that places their top thinkers in the classroom to share their practical knowledge or developing unique workforce training programs and internships.