Respect and Outreach Start at the Top

LEADING FROM BEHIND

The Dominion Post reports today that in a study on graduation rates only half of the local school respondents ” ‘agreed or strongly agreed that their opinions are respected’ in their respective school – compared to 65 percent nationally who answered the same way.”

The Post also reports:

“[Mon County School] Board member Mike Kelly, who has long championed higher graduation rates in the county, said outreach will be the key to success – specifically, getting those parents and other caregivers to school for conferences and other interaction. “We’re going to have to find a way to break the ice,” he said.

Outreach? Why has Mon Schools failed for over a decade to make all its school board meetings available by audio and/or video podcast online? That simple step would improve outreach dramatically. It’s easy to do and could be done immediately. Why does the board continue to refuse to make its meetings widely accessible?

The school system that is supposed to be leading its thousands of students into a world of complex technology has a fifth rate online presence. Compare Mon Schools’ website to that of WVU. The latter is relatively inviting, the former is basically repelling.

Mon Schools administration needs to get up to speed. It can never lead from behind. It can never be taken seriously if it doesn’t make even simple fixes. None of its public meetings are broadcast. All need to be, yesterday.

And Mon Schools will further continue to massively undermine its effectiveness by inculcating from the top down a culture that, as the Dominion Post reports, fails dramatically to respect the opinions of others.

Monongalia County school board and administration seem to have their collective heads encased in ice, and they continue to operate as if they live in the last ice age. They sure do need to break the ice. The ice that encases themselves. Whether or not this crew is capable of doing so on their own remains to be seen. In the near term, the answer is that the Mon Board and administration have failed so completely in regard to the green school that only greatly needed judicial intervention can remedy the damage, let alone thaw any ice between school officials and the public.

For the children’s sake, for the public’s sake, the Mononogalia school board and administration need badly to evolve. Maybe a lawsuit will shock them into their senses yet. The public reached out to Mon Schools overwhelmingly in the case of the green school, but the leaders remain frozen.

Sweeping legislative intervention is badly needed as well to mandate larger more representative school boards, recall referendums, publicly broadcast meetings, and many other measures needed to bring the ostensible leaders up to speed. There can be no excuse for those who insist on leading from behind.

“We’re going to have to find a way to break the ice,” said school board member Mike Kelly.

Indeed, Mon Schools’ returning emails and phone calls, broadcasting meetings, and actually respecting rather than disregarding and harming the constituencies Mon Schools is supposed to serve are necessary first steps. Incredibly, a profound negligence makes these first steps necessary still today.

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