California School News November 2017 : Page 3

3 leadership Vantage P oint: by CSBA President Susan Henry All school politics are local When I sat down to read the fall issue of California Schools magazine, I was particularly struck by an article titled “Deep Pockets: Spending on School Board Races Goes National.” The piece detailed the staggering investment in school board elections from contributors outside of the district as school board elections become high-stakes political races for those who wish to set the education agenda. As Rebecca Jacobsen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University, described it, “School board races are no longer just kitchen table campaigns.” The escalation of school board races from community-based expressions of democracy to proxy fights for charter supporters, labor unions and other interests reflects the ongoing transformation of public schools. More than ever, policy and politics are intertwined. This reality requires that we adjust our perspective as school board members and adopt a strategy that plays at the kitchen table and at the board room table. The challenge we face as school board members is this: on one front, we work to represent the best interests of local communities through our policy decisions; on the other, we contend with state and national forces who want to dictate the future of public schools. Our mission states that “We define and drive the public education policy agenda through advocacy, training and member services. Strong local boards of education are essential to ensure a high-quality educa-tion for every student in every community.” Nothing less than the very mission of the organization, our raison d’être, is at stake. Preserving the essential role of democratically elected school boards is a top priority for CSBA. Especially in a state as large, sprawling and diverse as California, the leaders closest to their constituents are best positioned to meet the needs of their local communities. What is authentically local, however, is becoming more difficult to define. In her study of the increasing role of money in school board races, Jacobsen coins the term “new localism” to refer to the external investment of money in traditionally community-run races. She further explains that “National reformers recognized that local boards are important to the pol-icy implementation process — local does matter.” While the new reality can be unsettling, we can take heart from the knowledge that local does matter. If our work weren’t so critically important to students, to com-munities and to our collective future, there wouldn’t be such a concerted effort to undermine our authority. In 2017, CSBA not only pushed back against efforts to erode local con-trol, we achieved key victories in this area. The passage of SB 751 — the reserve cap bill — restored districts’ ability to prepare for a rainy day, our legislative efforts prevented the passage of a bill mandating school start times at the state level, and our legal and advocacy work saved districts billions of dollars by protecting Proposition 98 payments and thwarting bills carrying costly mandates. Much more work remains to preserve local control and give schools the resources needed to provide a high-quality education to every one of California’s 6.2 million public school students. We’ve laid the foundation for this campaign by taking a leadership role on efforts to resolve the pen-sion crisis and the underlying issue of full and fair school funding. Bigger and better developments on this front are just around the corner. As 2017 and my presidency draw to a close, I want to thank you for the indispens-able part you’ve played in this work. In 2018 and beyond, I will continue to fight beside you to ensure that all of our public school students gradu-ate prepared for success in college, career and civic life. SBE changes Dashboard; approves inclusive textbooks continued from page 1 groups and people with disabilities. As part of this, the State Board also voted this month to expand coverage of the Filipino contributions to the farm labor movement and the role of activist Larry Itliong; add informa-tion on the illegal deportation of thousands of Mexican-Americans in the 1930s, many of whom were U.S. citizens; provide more detail on African-American history and slavery and include perspectives on the mistreatment of Native Americans in California’s missions before state-hood. In another move, the SBE voted to improve the representation of India and Hinduism in instructional material through the rejection of two textbook programs, voting unanimously to approve edits submit-ted by Hindu-American community groups. A coalition led by the Hindu American Foundation urged the board to push for an accurate, equitable and culturally competent portrayal of Hinduism and India in California textbooks. Another group of Indian-Americans, known as the South Asian Histories For All Coalition, expressed concern that some of the approved changes erased the histories of Buddhists, Dalits, Sikhs and other South Asian communities, and noted that the edits proposed by their group were not adopted. These changes were based on a lengthy review process overseen by the Instructional Quality Commission involving teachers, historians and pub-lic comment. Going forward, school districts can either use the approved SBE material or choose their own so long as it reflects the new standards. Members of the Student Advisory Board on Education also took part in the meeting. Students from across the state came to Sacramento to work together on recommendations and proposals and deliver them to the SBE. Proposals included greater use of restorative justice by school districts, adding career and technical education indicators to the California School Dashboard and developing a youth advisory board for the student representative to the SBE. Visit CSBA’s blog at blog.csba.org to read more about these student advocacy efforts. More information on the 2017 History-Social Science Framework adoption of K-8 instructional materials process can be found on the CDE website at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf.

All School Politics Are Local

CSBA President Susan Henry

When I sat down to read the fall issue of California Schools magazine, I was particularly struck by an article titled “Deep Pockets: Spending on School Board Races Goes National.” The piece detailed the staggering investment in school board elections from contributors outside of the district as school board elections become high-stakes political races for those who wish to set the education agenda.

As Rebecca Jacobsen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University, described it, “School board races are no longer just kitchen table campaigns.” The escalation of school board races from community based expressions of democracy to proxy fights for charter supporters, labor unions and other interests reflects the ongoing transformation of public schools. More than ever, policy and politics are intertwined. This reality requires that we adjust our perspective as school board members and adopt a strategy that plays at the kitchen table and at the board room table.

The challenge we face as school board members is this: on one front, we work to represent the best interests of local communities through our policy decisions; on the other, we contend with state and national forces who want to dictate the future of public schools.

Our mission states that “We define and drive the public education policy agenda through advocacy, training and member services. Strong local boards of education are essential to ensure a high-quality education for every student in every community.” Nothing less than the very mission of the organization, our raison d’être, is at stake. Preserving the essential role of democratically elected school boards is a top priority for CSBA. Especially in a state as large, sprawling and diverse as California, the leaders closest to their constituents are best positioned to meet the needs of their local communities.

What is authentically local, however, is becoming more difficult to define. In her study of the increasing role of money in school board races, Jacobsen coins the term “new localism” to refer to the external investment of money in traditionally community-run races. She further explains that “National reformers recognized that local boards are important to the policy implementation process — local does matter.” While the new reality can be unsettling, we can take heart from the knowledge that local does matter. If our work weren’t so critically important to students, to communities and to our collective future, there wouldn’t be such a concerted effort to undermine our authority.

In 2017, CSBA not only pushed back against efforts to erode local control, we achieved key victories in this area. The passage of SB 751 — the reserve cap bill — restored districts’ ability to prepare for a rainy day, our legislative efforts prevented the passage of a bill mandating school start times at the state level, and our legal and advocacy work saved districts billions of dollars by protecting Proposition 98 payments and thwarting bills carrying costly mandates.

Much more work remains to preserve local control and give schools the resources needed to provide a high-quality education to every one of California’s 6.2 million public school students. We’ve laid the foundation for this campaign by taking a leadership role on efforts to resolve the pension crisis and the underlying issue of full and fair school funding. Bigger and better developments on this front are just around the corner. As 2017 and my presidency draw to a close, I want to thank you for the indispensable part you’ve played in this work. In 2018 and beyond, I will continue to fight beside you to ensure that all of our public school students graduate prepared for success in college, career and civic life.

Read the full article at http://news.csba.org/article/All+School+Politics+Are+Local/2955138/459155/article.html.

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