Happy To Be Here With Twenty-Five Hundred School Board Members

by Jill Wynns, Commissioner, San Francisco Board of Education
CSBA 2012 President

Downtown San Francisco, my home, is filled with school board members from all over California this week. I am always so impressed by how hard school board members work to ensure that our students get the best education that they can. I share my righteous outrage that the state does not provide enough funding for schools with all of you who are here for the CSBA Annual Education Conference.

Those who suggest that democratically elected school boards are a problem for pubic education should be here with us this week. They could have listened to the in-depth discussions by CSBA’s Board of Directors on Friday. They could have felt the intensity of the feelings from the three hundred Delegate Assembly members concerning the law passed limiting reserves for school districts, while requiring them to show that they have enough revenue to meet their financial obligations for three years. And they could feel the power of twenty-five hundred locally elected dedicated citizens here to learn as much as they can to help them to deal with this new reality.

We come for the opportunity to learn about a wide range of issues that are pertinent to our work. We are discussing the Vergara decision and the teacher tenure, evaluation and dismissal issues swirling around it. Everyone needs to know more about the new Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plans that fundamentally change they way the state distributes revenue to local school districts and the way school districts spend that revenue to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students. We’re exploring new strategies to deal with disciplinary problems. Even veteran board members like me, it is always valuable to learn about what school districts and other boards are doing to address the same issues that we are facing.

This morning I am starting the day meeting with other urban board members and superintendents to strategize what we need to do the get the resources our students must have to succeed. After attending workshops, listening to experts who inform and inspire me, participating in a workshop presentation describing our local work to use restorative practices to fundamentally change the way we deal with conflicts and discipline, I be at the Reception for Community Schools that we have hosted at the AEC for four years to spread the word about the Community School movement in California.

I will be busy, but so will we all, jamming as much as we can into the short time we have together to learn and prepare for what will challenge us next. I will feel inspired, by speakers who remind me of why I do this important work. But the most inspiring thing I experience is being with all of my fellow board members. They give their precious time and energy for the best of reasons; it makes the lives of children better.

It is an awesome experience, being part of this group of smart, good-hearted, dedicated people who embrace the responsibility for our democracy’s most important asset, the universal public school system.

The potential collective power of the thousands of school board members could change the world, if we could harness it and focus it. We can see it here this week. We can feel it when we are together. Can we realize it’s potential?

jill wynns Jill Wynns is Commissioner for the San Francisco Board of Education and former CSBA President.

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