Friday, February 21, 2014

A Call to Action

Today's word is "stakeholder".

stakeholder, n

1. a person or group owning a significant percentage of a company's shares

2. a person or group not owning shares in an enterprise but affected by or having an interest in its operations, such as the employees, customers, local community, etc (emphasis mine)

Let's talk about the local community which elects the Howard Board of Education. That's us. Adult voters who live in our county, whether they have children or not, have a vested interest in the education of the community's children. A high-quality education benefits everyone as children learn, grow, and become successful members of that community.

We elect the Board of Education. In turn, the Board of Education hires the Superintendent of Schools. Whose schools? Our schools. We elect the Board of Education, we pay taxes to support the school system, and many of us provide our most precious "assets": our children.

We are the stakeholders.

Decisions which involve significant change in how our children will be educated are our business. We have the right to expect that such decisions will be made without haste, secrecy, or unusual pressures on teachers, administrators, and students.

These decisions should be made in collaboration with the trained professionals who work with our students, and their voices should be respected in the process. These decisions should be communicated with the public. Let's not forget who else should be at the table: parents.

Because we are the stakeholders.

However, if we don't exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens/stakeholders, then we really have no rights at all. And then it will seem more like the Board of Education serves at the pleasure of the Superintendent, and the community is little more than an afterthought. It is up to us, if we care enough, to communicate with our elected representatives at the Board of Education and tell them what we want them to do on our behalf.

We value education in Howard County. And we love our children, and care deeply about how they will learn and grow. So what do we want to empower our Board of Education to stand for? I would suggest transparency, collaboration, and respect for stakeholders. And by stakeholders I mean parents, teachers, administrators, staff. None of us can do this alone; we must work together.

It is our responsibility and if we abdicate it then our whole educational process, which is meant to be the active expression of our love and aspirations for our children, slips into a topsy turvy world where decisions always come from the top and the stakeholders are always at the bottom. Let's take a stand for a more horizontal process, where constituents are valued and included.

The deadline to file as a candidate for the Board of Education is Tuesday. Don't let this election pass you by.



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