Friday, September 14, 2012

CMS board flunks itself

OK, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board didn't give itself a letter grade in the self-assessment discussed at Friday's retreat.  But the consensus was pretty clear:  Members think the board has a lot of work to do  (see story here).

As Superintendent Heath Morrison and moderator Nancy Broner with the Center for Reform of School Systems noted,  there's a certain irony involved in such self-ratings.  In an attempt to become a better board,  the board has to publicly air its weaknesses, which can add to the image of a dysfunctional board.

But Broner said the goal of improvement is worth the discomfort.  Before the retreat she had all nine members fill out a 29-point questionnaire based on Eugene Smoley's  "Effective School Boards."  All members did so,  though the totals don't always add up because some apparently did not answer all questions.  And  --  cue up the punch lines  --  one member both agreed and disagreed that the board works to reach consensus on important matters.

Here are the results.  I'm paraphrasing many of the statements to make this more readable. Categories are mine, not Broner's.

*All nine members said the board fails to examine the downside of important decisions it makes.
*All nine say the board does not set aside time to learn more about important issues in other districts.
*Seven said the board does not usually receive  "a full rationale"  for recommendations it acts on.
*Five said administration recommendations are usually accepted with little questioning.
*Five said the board often requests additional information before making decisions.
*The board split 4-4 on whether it is  "a rubber stamp board."

*Seven said members are not consistently able to hold confidential items in confidence.
*Five said members say one thing in public and another thing privately.

At least they aren't splurging on food ...
*Five said the board does not reverse its positions based on community pressure.

*Eight agreed that  "at times this board has appeared unaware of the impact its decisions will have within our service community."
*Seven disagreed that  "this board spends a lot of time listening to different points of view before it votes on an important matter."
*Six said the board is outspoken in its views about programs.
*Five say members fail to get the views of an affected group  "if our board thinks that an important group of constituents is likely to disagree with an action we are considering."
*But five agreed that  "before reaching a decision on important issues,  this board usually requests input from persons likely to be affected."

*Seven disagreed that all members support majority decisions.
*Seven disagreed that board members work together to make sure decisions are accepted and carried out.
*Seven said members are sometimes disrespectful in their comments to each other.
*Seven agreed that  "a certain group of board members will usually vote together."
*Six said they fear they will be ostracized by other members if they speak their mind on key issues.
*The board split 6-4  (remember that double vote)  on whether it works to reach consensus on important matters,  with the slim majority disagreeing.
*Five agreed and four disagreed that  "the board's decisions usually result in a split vote."  As Broner put it,  "you were split on the split vote question."
*All nine disagreed that the board often discusses where CMS should be headed five or more years in the future.
*Six members agreed the board is more involved in  "trying to put out fires"  than preparing for the future.
*Five agreed that the board has reviewed its strategies and long-term goals within the past year.

*Six said they've participated in board discussions about mistakes the board has made and what could be done differently.
*Five say they've participated in board discussions about the effectiveness of its own performance.
*Five agree that the board has a retreat at least once every two years to examine its own performance as a board.
*Members split 4-4 on whether they've ever received feedback on their performance.  The item did not specify the source of feedback.

*Seven said members provide constituent services without crossing the line into management.


Anonymous said...

I left CMS in large part as a result of witnessing very high level administrators lying to one of the CMS legal team brought in to assist with an issue. There were the every day issues too, but this proved too much to work with. The Board would be better off cutting known BSers than accepting their matter how well they are generally perceived. There is a difference between performance and ability to BS in a pinch. BSers are lyers who think BSing is just another CMS management tool.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Broner is Broadie. Its the the blind leading the blind.

Anonymous said...

So is pay for performance to teachers going to be handled the same way? Are teachers going to be given a list of questions to rate themselves and then be paid according to the grade they give themselves? Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. Right?

Anonymous said...

Only as good as what they do with this!

Anonymous said...

They wake up Monday and manage the same way they did last week. A majority of the board is influenced by outside interests. Lets start Pat Riley Allen Tate , Charlotte Chamber Bob Morgan , NAACP Kojo numerous others. These knuckle heads are in too deep to say no the the above mentioned folks. (who paid for EES ticket to London)? We still dont know and her dishonesty is maxed out. It starts with the community not trusting her and just rolls downhill. I wont end until Davis,Lemmon,Morgan,Mcalrath,Joyce,Tate get voted out. Public has to do that for change to happen.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 12:23..

Sure, vote those BOE members out and vote in a board majority with the mindset of Vilma Leake.

If you contend the current BOE members are lackies for the NAACP, the Chamber, CRVA and other groups, what makes you believe future elections won't bring in people who may be more sympathetic to those organizations?

By the way, where is Mrs. Leake today?

You elected her to the BOCC where she can actually vote to tax, spend and waste our money.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! A corsage with each iPad. What? Only half the iPads go to the usual subjects? Those grants were guaranteed by CMS? Write a grant, get technology in the classroom? BYOT, network deficiencies, high school football stadiums in disrepair, morale focus groups, focus lessons, TRICA, Common Core. Dr. Perry had a ready made script for administration commentary. Wiley, insert the last 40 years comment here.

Anonymous said...

Wiley their are actual parents that want to see CMS succeed that will run for board spots. We have had this offered before as well. I am saying elect people who wont be influenced. What we have today is a bunch of jokers. All influenced by outsiders and some cannot even speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I too witnessed dishonesty in higher echelon. Major culprit left CMS after unrelated data disaster. Always suspected that Hugh was too trusting of his "leaders." if he knew then shame on him.

Wiley Coyote said...


Good luck finding someone who doesn't answer to someone or some organization.

Anonymous said...

Its happening around the community and has happened in the past. Look at your next Board election ballot. Richard , Eric, Rhonda , Joyce , Tate , Morgan/Stinson 6 they are all up and will face some good people. Their are 2 or 3 of them campaigning under the radar already. Parents with CMS kids who actually care about education. Imagine that. Two of them have no chamber cord either.

Anonymous said...

Wiley , speaking of the outside influence you say the qoute today correct? Mrs. Mccray says " we should be able to fund our vacations with Chamber,Business,Outside community support". Thats illegal and unethical and the Broad modeator should have stopped at that point. NAACP got her elected and she is a puppet for them everyone knows this. The outside influence is erroding this board.

Anonymous said...

Will the community be willing to fund teacher expenses for workshops that help us be better teachers? I think not, it comes from our pockets! We have to pay for the registration, hotel, food, travel, and if the school does not have enough funds, for a substitute.
Oh, I can attend webinars, but they are scheduled during the school day - some middle schools are on duty until 4:45 pm.

Anonymous said...

I think the community would support the teachers/schools IF downtown could operate like they know what they are doing. Today this is not evident. They waste more on "consultants tied to Broad Foundation" than they spend on helping teachers. In summary they waste money alot of it and are not trusted by the community or CMS employees.

Ann Doss Helms said...

7:56 a.m., that quote is from the moderator, not Mary McCray. The moderator brought this up twice; she insists it's a viable approach to expanding the travel options. It wasn't clear whether any board members agreed, and Joyce Waddell specifically questioned whether that would create an appearance of indebtedness to the sponsors.

Anonymous said...

Ann , The influence already exsists. Proof and point Ericka sitting on a plane headed to London with a ticket she does not know who paid for nor did she care. This is a plea or cry for vacation travel budgets. Its not needed their is plenty of work to be done right in Charlotte no more vacations. It certainly would expand the "influence" that is already present.