Below are the public comments I made at the school board meeting last night (June 11, 2015) as a concerned Jeffco parent.
Strong leadership knows how to listen.
I want to tell you a story about when I learned the importance of listening. Years ago, I scolded a student (I was a high school teacher in Chicago then) who was fiddling with a slinky in the middle of class. He had an essay to write! He wouldn’t listen when I asked him to put it away, not even when I told him to hand it over. “Is this slinky worth a trip to the dean’s office?” I asked. He wouldn’t relent, so I sent him out of class. Later that day, with a school counselor by his side, he apologized to me for the slinky incident. Then he explained the counselor gave it to him at the beginning of the day to carry with him–to handle and hold onto–because it was gonna be a tough day. Over the weekend, his cousin had died in his arms, a victim of neighborhood violence. Suffice it to say I overwhelmed his apology with an apology of my own. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea. Why didn’t you tell me?” But that’s just it. I didn’t ask. I didn’t start by listening.
I thought my agenda was the most important one that day. I was wrong. Other stakeholders always bring essential insights we cannot access on our own.
We can’t afford assumptions or agendas to trump what Jeffco students need, which is their schools and their teachers.
Today you have the opportunity to listen–to your district leadership, your community, your Financial Oversight and Capital Asset Committees, and your educators. Please listen to their recommendations.
And as you move into the next year, please renew your relationship with the Colorado Association of School Boards–a supportive network and a community of peers–committed to the same work you do for public education and all of your district’s students–where you can listen, learn, dialogue, and contribute.
Isolation doesn’t serve; listening and engaging does, and we are all life-long learners.
Additionally, here are the links to the Financial Oversight Committee and Capital Asset Advisory Committee recommendations.