As a parent with young children, I am familiar with the ritual of the first day of school. New school supplies, maybe a new outfit, and nerves. We get nervous because we care–about all the joys we want captured and challenges we want conquered for and by our children.
Jeffco School Board decisions impact students, families, educators and staff, and ultimately our whole community. It is critical that Board of Education decisions and processes are transparent. Transparency looks like speaking to issues directly and listening purposefully, not hindering public comment or redacting invoices. In order to deliver high quality, sustainable excellence, we must be transparent regarding the development of goals, the evaluation of effectiveness, and the stewardship of resources.
Transparency safeguards a sustainable, increasingly successful school district.
While transparency sometimes sounds like an empty political buzzword, for me it is personal. Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak makes him seem transparent, but in truth invisibility is the opposite of transparency. In high school, invisibility was my shield of choice. I tried to disappear, and it worked too well. I became disconnected and left, missing out on 18 months of learning in a connected school community, instead earning my GED in isolation. True transparency makes people and practices visible so that through connection, collaboration, and understanding all members of the Jeffco community are better served. Therefore, transparency that serves students requires courage and trust from all of us.
All Jeffco residents count on a strong school system to support our great quality of life. Homeowners count on it to maintain and build the value of their biggest financial asset. Businesses count on it to deliver a workforce ready for 21st century challenges. Most importantly, families count on it to partner in preparing our children for success in futures we cannot predict but must work for everyday.
If we want students to learn and grow, educators, administrators, and staff to work for continuous improvement, and citizens to get a strong return on taxpayer investment, then we must transparently articulate shared goals to which we hold ourselves accountable.
Accountability is not an us versus them proposition. We are in this together. Each community member benefits from great schools, and each of us is responsible to help all our schools be great. I welcome the streaming of board meetings. I find value in occasionally holding board meetings in a Jeffco high school, especially if that board meeting study session is dedicated to hearing from an articulation area’s school communities about their educational and budget triumphs and challenges.
I am committed to genuine transparency, with open ears and honest intentions. I will answer questions and speak to issues directly. I will also ask questions to unearth information and stories relevant to decision making. I will listen to the insights communicated to me, knowing my ability to serve Jeffco depends on my ability to listen well. I will attend community events and meetings ready to listen to the people of Jeffco and learn from them.
I will work for transparency and trust-building, so that decision-making is open, compromise is possible, and students’ best interests are sacred.
The work of schools matters. Jeffco is currently navigating this worthy work with an elevated sense of conflict and controversy. Transparency can bring more light and less heat–more practical insight and less partisan conflict–so that students are the center of school board business.