Patrick Hampton / July 26, 2021

Who Is the Superintendent’s Boss?

As it stands, many municipalities have school boards that are dominated by unionized teachers.

Remember learning about “checks and balances” in school? We grew up with the understanding that joint authority was the only way to ensure that one branch of government had no more weight than the other two. We understood that the opposite of this “checks and balances” concept is equivalent to a dictatorship — total control of the state by one branch acting as king.

We certainly wouldn’t want this for our nation. So why would we want this on the local level?

As I run for my county school board, I’ve pondered about what those “branches” of our education system should be, only to arrive at this conclusion: We’ll need a coalition of parents, educators, and taxpayers as a whole to offer the balance needed to operate our schools with transparency, fiscal responsibility, and efficiency. This is especially important when working with a superintendent who must take his or her board members into consideration.

Educators can be amazing advocates. When operating in the best interests of our youth, teachers make key areas aware to parents who are concerned about their child’s academic progression and competence. I consider many of my teacher friends to be a blessing to families that may not have the tools to ensure a proper education.

Taxpayers — which includes parents and teachers — deserve a seat at the table, especially in the arena of fiscal responsibility. A teacher or advisor might propose a career readiness program that’s exceptional in her eyes, but a taxpayer (perhaps a local business owner) may want to know whether this initiative will provide him with the next generation of entry-level employees.

Parents make fantastic representatives as they and their children are the beneficiaries of the curriculum. Like customers at a store, they offer valuable insight on the end product — in this case, a well-rounded education. Board members who are parents of students in the school system tend to lean on their need for transparency. They want to know what their kids are learning and how their kids are learning. As a board member candidate who is a parent of four boys, I shouldn’t have any issue knowing what is on this year’s curriculum or even why a specific lunch menu is served. While parents don’t have dominion over the school system, they do deserve a crystal clear window inside.

All three of these individuals offer valuable perspective and deserve a place on the school board. But as it stands, many municipalities have boards that are dominated by unionized teachers. As a parent advocate myself, I only hope that more parents and taxpayers create the counterbalance needed so that the entire system can be a better boss to the superintendent — who should take into account all of our views. Without either part of this trifecta we will soon begin to see signs of collapse to the detriment of the next generation.

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