Trustees are human beings, and from a strategic viewpoint, human nature can impede or disrupt a Board’s key functions. One term that captures much of this problematic dimension of human nature is subjectivity.
For Board members, subjectivity may lead to an overlying personalized way of seeing organizational purpose, envisioning the school’s future, and determining planning priorities. Subjectivity can easily undermine the strategic thinking needed to preserve school mission, ensure organizational stability, and lead a school into the future. Increases in tension or anxiety on the Board may contribute to increased subjectivity.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools supports and lobbies for charter schools at the state and federal levels. The organization’s latest annual report indicates that more than three million students now attend public charter schools. That’s nearly three times the student population of a decade ago. There are now more than 6,900 charter schools in the United States. Clearly there has been demonstrated growth in that sector.
Public schools around the nation are experiencing a higher percentage of new teachers. According to data from the Department of Education, 12% of all public school teachers are in their first or second year of teaching—in some states, more than 15%. This “greening trend” in teaching has been noticeable and well-researched over the past two decades.
One way to ensure strategic continuity at your school is to preserve Board memory—to learn and grow from your history. Your school’s strategic “history” provides both constraints and opportunities for its strategic future. As Board President, you should consider a formal review of the quality of your existing historical portrait, take steps to reorganize that portrait if needed, and elevate the quality of your school’s organizational “Board memory.” Consider the following four key steps.
The Chair of the Committee on Trustees has proposed expanding the Board by asking several wealthy members to continue their terms indefinitely. The goal is to “keep them actively involved with the school.” However, the Board’s bylaws specify that, at the end two consecutive terms, a Board member must sit out for one year.
The Chair believes that having these Trustees directly involved as Board members is critical. The school plans to kick off the silent phase of a multimillion-dollar capital campaign this school year, and the strategic plan calls for another campaign four years later. Keeping them on the Board is bound to yield larger gifts, she feels.
You’re at the grocery store, in the park, or at church. Another parent from your child’s school walks up and says, “What do you think of the way the Board is handling the dress code issue?”
Of course, as a tuition-paying parent, you have an opinion. Your first thought is to respond, “It’s really disappointing. I can’t imagine what’s gotten into them!” However, you’ve just become a Board member. Now what?
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