School district leaders and school boards who invite stakeholders in their district to engage in open discussions about important decisions contribute to a culture that brings out the best in everyone.
Some school district leaders and boards recognize the importance of openness. A recent example is Elaine Nutter, Camden’s superintendent, who has created a number of recent public forums for people to share thoughts about a principal search and about renovations to the middle school.
Some school district leaders and boards prefer to make decisions privately. They do not invite either educators or taxpayers to contribute in meaningful ways to decisions that need to be made. The result can be misunderstandings, botched decision-making, and a culture of mistrust.
School district leaders and boards should take care to create a culture of openness. If people feel shut out they will not support decisions that are made. Board policies should create pathways for hearing from constituents. Superintendents should listen carefully to the voices of administrators, teachers, parents, and other taxpayers. Administrators should work hard to create as much open, focused dialogue as possible among the members of their staffs. Doors should be open at all levels for constructive conversation.
A culture of openness brings out the best in everyone, and ultimately this benefits both the students and the economy of local towns.