Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hand picked committees

Those who followed the facilties study, the IB site selection committee, the Westinghouse naming committee and the East End panel will be familiar with a defensive process on by the district where committees are handpicked and formed without any sort of advance notice. By the time the committee is announced, membership is closed. Almost invariably the committees reach the result the district had decided on in advance (due to a strong alumni association, Westinghouse was an exception).

In the case of the Schenley sale, a hastily formed handpicked committee will not be sufficient. Requests for the committee were made for more than three years. The committee was to consider re-use broadly, not a particular sales proposal, and a couple of weeks would not be adequate for the process of gathering information, deliberating, and reaching a reasoned decision.


Dave Atkinson said...

I think this most recent post misrepresents the IB Site Selection Committee and the post is more conspiracy theory than fact.

It’s inaccurate to say the IB Site Committee was handpicked. While the District invited specific people to join the committee, there was a deliberate effort to make the committee open to parents and members of the community. I learned about the IB Site Selection Committee from my local listserv, and I learned about it well in advance of the committee start date.

The IB Site Selection Committee met for several weeks, deliberated and reached a logical conclusion. Though the District facilitated the process and set some of the parameters for discussion, the committee reached its conclusions independently.

Questioner said...

Have to wonder why none of the many parents who had spoken out against a Peabody location for IB were asked to join... Committees may include parents and members of the community, but they rarely include more than a token member who has publicly disagreed with the administration.

Questioner said...

Also would it not be reasonable to inform Board members- ALL Board members- when a committee is being formed? Unfortunately that rarely happens until selections have already been made.

solutionsRus said...

Dave, I know that many people find it hard to believe that the district is closing off these meetings to key stakeholders, but sadly, that is the case. It is always convenient to label folks that point out institutional malfeasance as "conspiracy theorists", but we can't be so naive to think that public manipulation in an organization as large as the PPS couldn't happen.

The beauty of the distinct talents of our former superintendent (and those talents have apparently been handed down to the current admin) is that the participants in these committees are operating in good faith, but the district, in almost every case, has it conclusions drawn and ultimately guides committee members to come to the same conclusions. They are masterful. But on every occasion that a selective committee was formed outcomes were predicted quite accurately by those of us watching closely. (and yes, they are handpicked, I know several people that were denied membership. The only thing deliberate about the selection for the committee was that there would be few, if any, on it that would dissent in any way. In fact folks like you that could not believe that any manipulation would take place, are perfect members; you believe in a fair and open process and expect nothing less. In addition why are the deliberations of these committees invariably held behind closed doors?),

The perfect case in point is the committee regarding the resale of Schenley. Stakeholders were promised a seat at the table 4 years ago, yet this sale is being rushed through with no input from those that so passionately fought for keeping this invaluable building and high school.

We all want to believe the best in everyone. But a good dose of cynicism is what forms debate and healthy dialogue for problem solving and benefits everyone involved.

Questioner said...

What could possibly be the justification for closing the meetings off from observers? The best answer to charges of a closed, predetermined process would be to open the meeting to those with the knowledge and background to serve as a check on administration presentations.

Anonymous said...

topplibiOn the topic of committees, does anyone know if there is still a parent component meeting to have input to the RISE process? Also, would it make sense to keep a light schedule of an athletic reform committee to implement initiatives that have no cost but great impact?

Part of the governor's education message was about parent involvement, but the term has alwasys been so vague and open to anyone's definition that it just becomes a few syllables and a
"go-to" as an explanation for underperforming kis and schools.

On committees, we need to avoid members being just names on a paper for documentation purposes only. This is possible because there are people willing to step up and volunteer given the opportunity.

Questioner said...

The names on paper issue is very real. It leads to a situation where by the end of the committee process there are often few committee members remaining at the table (either b/c they could see they would not have an impact or b/c they were not that interested or did not have the time to begin with), while others passionately interested and involved sat in enforced silence on the sidelines (on the few occasions observers were permitted).