Monday, May 23, 2016

BOE, Take a Clue From SEL

Some comments regarding the new school board and its president remind me of the past disputes among organizers of youth sports. The adults said they were all in it for the children, but then tore each other up worse than any combative kids on the playground.

How strongly this stands in contrast to tenets of "Social and Emotional Learning," something that school officials began touting more than a decade ago. The graphic below and the explanation by one of the agencies involved in this movement rather boldly point up the difference between what people say they want "for the children" and how they, the grown-ups in charge, behave among themselves.

Whatever the motive for switching to an April election, it happened and the makeup of the school board changed. Nine people are in charge as policy-makers for perhaps the city's largest employer and for the largest budget of any public entity in the city. Each member comes to the task with different skills and outlooks, but once they get in the same room, the voters who put them there no doubt expect to see them acting  from principles such as "responsible decision-making" and "self-management."

Image result for social and emotional learning
Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning stresses the five competencies above. See also CASEL's FAQ here.

The 2015-16 school year is winding down, but the new board is just starting. New members will be required to take training through the New Jersey School Boards Association and that should help to smooth things out. The NJSBA offers many other ways to attain or sharpen board skills.

Even though the April 19 election was also a contest between local political forces and some of the baiting in comments may represent sour grapes over the outcome, the board members among themselves have to build a working relationship. Otherwise, talk of being "for the children" is just for the birds.


1 comment:

  1. After being involved with youth programs for many years I have come to realize the statement "it's for the kids" is merely a smokescreen. Those that yell it the loudest are usually doing something contrary. Those that are really about the kids prove it by their actions without having to proclaim it.
    Nancy Jordan