During my unsuccessful campaign for a school board seat last year, I repeated the term “best practices” to the point where one audience could recite the three pillars of the principle from memory.
The best practices concept is simple. As it applies to the N-MUSD, it is this: It is highly unlikely that anything the district is going through or wants to execute has not been experienced elsewhere. So, the board and the administration have a duty to taxpayers to find the other districts that have had that similar experience and ask them three questions:
1) What worked?
2) What didn’t?
3) If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Using best practices as standard operating procedure saves time, taxpayer dollars, and a lot of grief. That’s because it reduces the chance of failure and greatly increases the chances of success.
It’s so simple and so logical. Too simple and too logical, in fact, for a public entity such as the N-MUSD to embrace it to any degree, as the private sector has for years. Instead, the district will be conducting another feel good survey and ask parents about the effectiveness of allowing students to bring their own “personal technology, such as iPads and Chromebooks, to enhance their classroom experience.” (DP 5/27/15)
Almost everyone reading this has an opinion on this. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program may seem like a good idea to some because it will boost the chances that students will become more competitive in the global blah, blah, blah. Some may not like the idea because they believe kids need less time in front of computers, not more.
But quite frankly, what you believe should not matter. Your opinion should not count. The only thing that matters is the research attached to the results of the program where it has already been executed. And I will bet that there are other school districts that have tried the program or are using it. So doesn’t it make sense to reach out to these people and ask them the three questions? One would think, but that would be using that “logic” stuff and the N-MUSD administration doesn’t seem to have too much of it these days.
Logic dictates that if you are operating in the red, you cut overhead, not increase it by adding more management.
Logic dictates that if grade hacking is discovered, a cyber security policy should be developed and all students are aware of its existence and of the consequences of a violation.
Logic dictates that if your bus transportation system is operating in the red to the tune of an outrageous $6 million a year for many years, that something should have been done years ago to stop the hemorrhaging.
Logic dictates that if the president of the local teacher union announces at a board meeting that morale stinks (my word), that someone in the administration make a sincere effort to find out why and fix it. (But they haven’t because despite their rhetoric, they really don’t care about teacher morale.)
Logic dictates that if you introduce an entirely new way of teaching kids, that you measure its success by testing them with the old tests, not with the new ones.
But when your tax dollars are involved, logic does not apply.
So instead of a best practices approach to BYOD, we get another survey, the results of which will show opinions, not data. Instead of contacting other districts to ask about BYOD vs. improved academic performance and communication, the district will be asking parents about their feelings. Instead of efficiency, taxpayers get waste.
None of this should be a surprise. It is the result of the weakest district leadership taxpayers have seen in decades, fueled by a school board that is unwilling or unable to challenge the senior administrators on anything.