Some background: The Missouri School Board members are legally required to be ‘laypeople’, that is, people in the field who aren’t the experts, in this case, the field is education.
So I was talking to my friend about this article, telling him I at first thought it was satire. I first figured as such at this:
"We need to have lay people who are not conflicted by a lifetime of experience in the education community," [Senator Rob] Schaaf [R - St. Joseph] said.
How could we possibly not want people with a lifetime of experience in the education community on our School Board? It seems to me like they are the best candidates!
But as my friend explained to me, the law for laypeople is there because the School Board is supposed to be a mere administrative body. They just maintain the budget, hire the superintendent, and delegate other responsibilities.
They, however, do much more than that. While DESE (the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) writes the education policy for Missouri, the School Board has the real power because they are the ones who formally adopt the policies and decide how to evaluate their success. They establish the goals of schools and districts. They judge a school’s performance.
Immediately after the previous quote, the author wrote:
While some senators agreed with Schaaf’s sentiments, others felt the experience of the two appointees is important to address the tough questions related to education.
"This board needs people who know the ropes a little bit, but are willing to ask tough questions," Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said
Exactly! Thank you, Senator! The School Board needs experienced members, because they do so much more than believed by the law. Especially now, when we are aligning the state with the Common Core and transitioning to a technologically integrated curriculum.
The two appointees will start their terms on the School Board immediately, however, making this story have a bit of a happy ending.
Perhaps I don’t know enough yet about Missouri’s education policy or the functions of a School Board, but I am baffled by the idea that an institution charged with leading our educators and guiding our schools should be filled with the non-experts.
Law firms don’t hire the interns to be partners. The State Department doesn’t send the recent college graduate overseas as our ambassador. If we had a State Board of Plumbers to govern and evaluate the policies and practices of plumbers, I hope it wouldn’t be filled with amateur enthusiasts.