Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S14
about their child and someone in the school is giving that
child a hard time. I have to respond to that.
Q: How would you respond in that situation?
Some school board members will go straight to that
school, and all of a sudden, the school board member is
dictating to staff what their concerns are and what they
want done, undermining and bypassing the superintendent. Normally, I'd go to the superintendent and share
that with him. I'd say, 'I've got a concern about X. Would
you look into it?' And that's how I handle it. Those are
board relations that you have to be able to establish. But
it's tricky; it's very tricky. You don't want it coming out
that you did not respond to a concern from a constituent.
You've got another problem there.
Now, I can't say that the superintendent and I had a good
working relationship [from the start]. It wasn't that way. It
was not a good relationship initially; it took time to build.
TIPS FOR NEW
" Please attend
members. Try to
attend state school
with fellow board
your schools and
show support of all
events possible. "
Q: I wanted to return to your statement that your
relationship with the Superintendent Steinhauser
was not initially a good one. Why? What made that
relationship work over time?
We had some challenges initially. My background is in organizations. The superintendent comes from the classroom.
That's his orientation to the work: It's the classroom; it's not
through management. It's not through organizations.
One of the things I recommended when I came on the
board was that we have a strategic plan because there
wasn't one. I asked about it, and another board member
said, 'We don't need that.' I just kept touting the importance of a strategic plan. The superintendent said he'd do
it. Subsequently, I worked with him on other things, like
processes or organization stuff.
The two school board members who were brought in
from the [teachers'] union were really working to create
havoc in the district. I basically said to [the superintendent], take your goals for the [district] for the year from the
strategic plan, share those goals with the board, have the
board validate your work, and that way you don't have to
deal with the issues that these two board members are giving you. He did. He would bring us his goals for the year,
based on the strategic plan, we would vet the goals, and we
would make any changes we saw, and give it back to him,
and he would run with those goals. At the end of the year,
we would evaluate him based on what he did. But the trick
was we already approved it upfront. We said, 'Go with it.'
There was no recrimination from the board ... when he
came back and said, 'Here are the results of my work.'
So just sharing things with him about process-like you
need to move your public information officer next to you
so that that individual has direct access to you to be able to
share information about the district with the public.
Not long ago, it was ethnic studies. ... We had conversations back and forth that this would change the dynamics
for our kids by bringing this in. I said to him, our Black
kids would change-not only our Black kids but our other
kids. We hired professors from Long Beach State to come
14 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 18, 2020 | www.edweek.org
in and teach ethnic studies on Saturdays. Four years later,
we looked at the data. Exactly what I said to him happened.
But the thing is that over time, he trusted me, and that
improved our relationship. Over time, things that I recommended that were approved convinced him that I was a reliable ally, and that changed our relationship.
Q: What advice would you share with a new school
board member who may have been propelled to run
by a single issue?
Your job is to create policy. The superintendent's job is
to run the district. That's the primary information you give
straight up. Then you try to set an example for them by
your own actions.
Then point out opportunities where they can get some
training. Some school boards have transitions where they
will give workshops for incoming board members, so they
get that information in a very direct way.
You try to give them a bigger overview of what schools
are all about. You try to give them information about the
role of education in our society as it was designed to do.
If you've got that kind of situation where a school board
member can understand the lay of the land when it comes
to schools, that's even greater.
The book that Don McAdams put out is very straightforward on the role of school board members. And it takes a
person right to it.
Q: Should [a background in education] be a
requirement to serve on a school board?
It would be nice if you did [have it], but sometimes you
need to come in with a different mindset because there
are so many pieces to the education process-the business
part, there is the political piece. And you need to have people with varied experiences. Bring in people with different
experiences, different backgrounds, different ethnicities.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add about your
tenure on the Long Beach Unified school board?
The one thing that has always been concerning to me is
the response from people based on the color of my skin and
how I was treated as a board member based on the color of
my skin. It took a minute for people to get comfortable with
me. Like anything else, some things do take work.
People are people. You have to establish your credibility.
You don't walk in with credibility as an African American,
with all the stereotypes that are out there. You've got to
show people that you can stand on your own, that you know
what you are talking about. All the things that I had happen,
I had to back it up with data. I had to go out and do the hard
work. I just couldn't say it. I had to work very hard to get people to the point where they saw it reflected in the research.
A lot of the critical stuff, maybe a white counterpart
could say it and have it happen, but I couldn't do it that
way. I had to back up my stuff with data. I didn't have a
problem doing that because it helps establish your credibility that you can do something like that.
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020
Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
As Election 2020 Grinds On, Young Voters Stay Hooked
Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
What the Research Says
Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Education Week - November 18, 2020
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What the Research Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Did COVID-19 Really Drive Teachers to Quit?
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Getting Schools Open: A No-Win Decision as Virus Cases Surge
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - ‘Schools Need to Be Bolder’ About Reopening, Public Health Expert Says
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - What to Watch as Biden Administration Charts Its Own Path on Education Policy
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Who Could End Up Heading Top Senate Panel on Education Issues
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Families Not Engaging Remotely? Rethink the Problem
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The Election Was Traumatizing For Many Students (and Educators)
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - 19
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - The New Face of Teacher Demoralization
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - CW4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S1
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S2
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S4
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S5
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S6
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S7
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S8
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S9
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S10
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S11
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S12
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S13
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S14
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S15
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - S16
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC3
Education Week - November 18, 2020 - SC4