By Dan McKinley, President & CEO
Summer is a great time to begin reading a new book—perhaps a mystery you have set aside for a vacation day…leaving the nuts and bolts of work behind and letting your imagination take you to interesting new places.
In this spirit I invite you to read the new PAVE Blog. Here you will find important and interesting topics, explored by people who are both knowledgeable about education reform nationally and in close touch with people who are really making a difference in the lives of families and children in Milwaukee’s schools. What makes the PAVE Blog distinctive? It’s what you will not find here: the usual clichés about the same old problems with education. What you will find: insights into what is working in schools that are achieving success through innovation and hard work. Stories of people who aspire to change the way things are, who know that inspiration, and persistent and organized work can bring out the best in everyone involved in a school community.
PAVE’s particular focus is on recruiting, training and organizing people who have the authority and responsibility to make decisions about how a school is organized and who are accountable for its performance. In a word, we are involved in good governance. “Governance” is a word that describes something that is all around us, but is so abstract it’s practically invisible. Go into a school and you will see teachers teaching and students hopefully learning; you may see the Principal who hires the teachers, but you will not see the independent board of volunteer directors who together decide on the priorities for the school, hire the principal and evaluate his/her performance annually, make sure the budget is well managed, and support the school’s progress.
The school’s board—it is the alpha and omega of systemic change –but do we really know what distinguishes exceptionally effective boards from a board that uses “Robert’s Rules of Order,” but doesn’t hold itself accountable for performance? We need to celebrate the work of boards that are living up to their potential to transform the lives of children who live in pervasive poverty—because in Milwaukee the way things are for children must change. The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently published an authoritative study in which “Wisconsin is ranked the worst state in the country when it comes to racial disparities for children… from educational access to socioeconomic status and home life.”
We at PAVE know some great stories and evidence of what good governance is all about. We will use this blog space to talk about what is happening that is truly important and interesting.
Above all, we want to hear from you, because your questions or observations will open up new issues to explore. Please join us.