Tuesday, March 18, 2014

School Board

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"Whoever causes a child who believes in Me to stumble,
it would better for that person to have a great millstone
fastened around her or his neck and to be drowned..."



"To preach the Gospel is not just to tell the truth but
to tell the truth in love, and to tell the truth in love
means to tell it with concern not only for the truth
that is being told but with concern also for the
people it is being told to..

The stakes have never been higher."

Frederick Buechner


    I've been asked to run for District 100's School Board.

    Things must be really bad if I'm being...

    They are.

    Spearheaded by a previous cadre's counsel and insistence fueled by dubious rationale - "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time.  Not bad odds!" - the high school was divided into two high schools: BHS and BNHS.

    Belvidere's one high school was a continuing encouragement to the citizenry as administrators, teachers, parents, and students worked happily together for academic, athletic, and extra-curricular excellence in the development of future leaders embracing America's highest values.

    As the first decade of division draws to an end, the community increasingly laments what is now understood to be an imprudent to impulsive decision born of suspicious motives; rendering a once positively unified community subject to unseemly divisions, disunity, competition, rivalry, selfishness, pride, and base politics.  What was once renowned as a community of unity with Belvidere High School being among its greatest bonding agents has become a simmering cauldron of suspicion, contention, and unrest.

    Sooooooo I asked some local folks and informed friends around the country, "How can school boards better serve/assist/complement administrators, teachers, parents, and, most consequentially, students?"

    Protecting the identities of respondents against reprisals, what follows are parallel parables concomitant to summary representations with direct quotes from exponentially more folks than have ever read any of my books which is significant if not shocking.

    Annnnnnnd as Harold often said to pewsitting critics who said he was singling 'em out when he preached, "If the shoe fits..."

    In other words, my guess is District 100 ain't much different from yours.



    Harold often told miscreants, "If you find the perfect church, don't join it; because it will no longer be perfect if you do!"

    Following his lead, I've said occasionally, "Please do not tell anyone that I'm your pastor; because I don't want anyone to think I've influenced your beliefs and behaviors."


    "Having lived in this county since I was 5, I have seen District 100 go from being one of the top schools in the area to where we are now - operating in the black and wise financial decisions to wasteful spending and selling a 'snake oil' bill of goods to the public that we need all these new buildings.  We were supposed to be 12K+ in student population by this time; only to be under 8K and dropping.  One school closed.  More on the way?  They put the cart in front of the horse and now want taxpayers to bail them out!  A very arrogant attitude..six figures for a top administrator who does not want to live with us...My tax bill is roughly $5800 with $3800 going to District 100.  And just what am I paying for?  Fancy buildings...high administrative salaries...If more cuts need to me made, why not start with our administrators and teachers who do not want to be here anyway?"

    "After serving on the very first committee to try to get BNHS built, I came away frustrated with elected community leaders than ever before.  A bunch of graphs and pretty pictures were thrown at us to prove we were growing at a substantial rate; but we were not allowed to question those graphs or pretty pictures.  We were told we needed new buildings.  We questioned that.  We couldn't discuss it.  It was a conclusion not a consultation.  We had a superintendent who wanted to build his resume at our cost."

    "I really like our current superintendent.  Unlike his arrogant predecessor, he is highly relational.  We stole him from our immediate neighbors to the north.  But why hasn't our school board held his feet to the fire about interviewing for other jobs when the job here is unfinished?  I like him.  I wish he liked us."

    "Has our school board ever wondered why our superintendent and so many of our best teachers want to leave?  Could it be them?"

    "Our school board does not care about the whole district.  They only care about the schools that their children attend!"

    "Why don't school board members introduce themselves to the teachers?  Why don't they ask the teachers and staff about problems, issues, and successes?  This school board is seen as the enemy; or, at best, inconsequential."

    "Why do we keep trying to re-invent the wheel?  Back to the basics!  Put the child first!"

    "What should be the goal of local school boards?  FREEDOM!  Freedom for teachers to teach!  Freedom for students to learn!  Freedom for the free market to supply educational excellence rather than the government and union and school board conspiring to impose mediocrity (at best) for all!"

    "If you choose to run for the school board, expect the following: (1) every aspect of your life immediately becomes fair game for dirty tricks; (2) every belief you have which does not tow the leftist agenda of teachers unions and government social engineers will be ridiculed, snarked at, and made to seem extreme; (3) if your campaign manages to get traction, they will use every possible method to disqualify you, including going through your trash can to get financial records of your personal correspondence; (4) contributors to your campaign will be harassed, threatened with boycotts, followed, or photographed; and (5) you will receive contributions from seemingly innocuous people who turn out to be abortionists, pedophiles, or worse and that information will be revealed at the 11th hour when you can't explain it away...Do you have the time or stomach to just run to be Don Quixote?  To anchor the debate and force important issues to be put on the table?  Maybe.  But you better give it very long consideration...You love your Lord.  Everybody knows that.  Your Christian faith is marginalized and ridiculed by our government schools.  You are banned...while Muslim worship is extolled, dressing in a burkha is allowed...You better think this over..."

    "One thing that really bothers me is the ease with which 'good Christian' folks can say the Apostles' Creed on Sunday and teach and support the teaching of evolution in public schools...The mere suggestion of Intelligent Design opens a school district to ridicule.  But, then, whoever said the saints were called to be low profile, keeping their heads down?"

    "At my last school district, the school board members who were not working ate lunch frequently in the school cafeterias.  Now that was interesting and a positive thing for administration!  Those who serve on school boards should make themselves more available than just attending sports events and plays.  Typically, there is such animosity between school boards and teachers that it is not healthy for anyone.  In my humble opinion, the school superintendent should have as one of his goals the task of communication between the school board and the teachers and administrators."

    "If you have teachers and administrators who don't want to be in our district and school board members who only care about their own kids, you get a disaster like ours."

    "The first thing is they need to be on the same team and of the same mind and thought moving in the same direction with their mind set on the most important issues to their families and their children and their teachers...Leaders need to know how to bring the whole team together and get the ball across the finish line...A good leader will be humble and still be bold and directed with good wisdom...Never bite off more than you can chew...Remember, people do not care what you know.  They want to know how you care.  When they know you care, they will listen to what you know...Tell the truth."

    The preceding are representative - usque ad nauseam.





    I'd often quote Barth on the first day of class whether teaching first year seminarians or doctoral candidates: "It's not a matter of whether one wants to preach.  It's a matter of whether one can preach."  Then I would say the success of the course would be determined by personally discovering if it was best to go to the next level or down the hall to another discipline.  I also learned anyone, including myself, who wants to preach too much should be disqualified immediately for they lack the respect to dread of the responsibility entrusted to them (see two quotes at the top).

    Anyone who wants to be on the school board too much may have a singular axe to grind, selfish ambition to accomplish, or unseemly ego need.

    Anyone who is called to be on the school board will be compelled yet cautious about the whole being equal to the sum of its parts.


    I was called to be the pastor of one of my particular denomination's largest churches not long after turning 30.  It was a mistake.  I was not emotionally or spiritually prepared for it.  Or as the ecclesiastical gatekeeper who knew he could not dissuade the selecting committee or me from the inevitable mistake shared with me in the unsuccessful attempt to get me to reconsider: "This would be like my 25 year old daughter coming to me with excitement about having found her perfect match for life while saying the boy being 12 could be a problem."

    Though it is an essential character trait for any kind of leadership, caring is not enough to be anything for anyone.

    Caring + competence = effective leadership.


    I've learned the opposite of love is not hate.  It is selfishness - the indifference to the needs of others because personal wants trump the needs of others.

    When working/serving on any board, organization, corporation, or whatever, only being concerned about yourself and your own favorite people is doomed by dishonored wisdom: "Pride goes before the fall.  God lifts up the humble and brings down the proud."


    Read those top two quotes by Jesus and Buechner again and again and again and...



    Yeah, I've been asked to run for the school board.

    I've declined emphatically for reasons related to the above and other reasons that, obviously, too many involved in District 100's leadership don't want to get anyway.

    Frankly, and this is gonna be a very salty sprinkling for a very open wound, the leadership of District 100 needs more...

    It's/He's the answer to every question.

    If I have to provide the declarative for that interrogative, we're in more trouble than thought.

    In the meantime, it's O.K. to shoot the messenger.

    I'm used to it/them - vocational hazard.

    It's a natural defensive instinct.

    I don't mind.

    I care more about the responsibilities attached to the adult baptismal promises regarding the children entrusted to us.

    I care more about their future than the feelings of adults who...

    One more word that could really turn all of this around quickly: "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

    That would signal the maturity that would ignite the probability to recapture the heritage that would...

    Read Revelation 2:5.


Blessings and Love!

1 comment:

Phil said...

Don’t do it!
Even the guys at Monopoly knew that it was a curse not a benefit!

I spent too many years as a solicitor and labor counsel to school districts. I fear your time and skills will be wasted and unappreciated. Instead, maybe start a charter school where education succeeds.