Returning on December 7 from the California School Boards Association annual conference, where I spoke with dozens of board members, I am happy to report that everyone seems ready and willing to share what they know about their districts’ vital signs. No one argued for hiding teacher absenteeism. No one made the case for concealing their labor agreements. No one was worried about revealing the rate at which management misassigned teachers. No one sounded concerned about the loss of the majority of state’s tests. No one was troubled by the consequences of showing the underutilization of facilities. Chalk up a victory for sunshine and transparency. In principle.

In practice, board members are far from knowing what to do next. Some are waiting for the State Board of Education to tell them what to do. Others are wondering what their neighboring are going to do. A few are turning toward CSBA for guidance. But who is making their own list of things that matter most? And who is wondering how to bring sunshine and public awareness to the factors that matter most?

As those who are elected to govern California school districts now figure out how to put their good principles into practice, they will be working out their own answers to these three questions:

  • What matters most?
  • How do we measure it?
  • In what form should we share it?

We at School Wise Press intend to help them answer those questions. Stay tuned to this blog for guidance, for examples of worst practices, for opinions well seasoned by our experience of 13 years of accountability reporting for over 240 California districts.

The irony is that boards are now compelled by law to do what they’ve been free to do all along: share their districts’ vital signs, and tell their own stories. Now with the Calif. Dept. of Education retreating from its prior role as accountability driver, creator of the API, and giver of statewide assessments, what help can locals expect from their state agency? Stay tuned as I share with you the answers that board members bring to this question.