Has anyone seen Luis Rodriguez-Davila?
Mr. Rodriguez-Davila is a member of the Hartford Board of Education. Published minutes indicate he has not been at a board meeting since Nov. 20. He has not answered calls or emails, and the word on the street is that he has been in Puerto Rico since the winter.
Mr. Rodriguez-Davila, once an active and sometimes outspoken member, should either serve or resign. His unexcused absence detracts from what has been one of the strongest boards in recent memory.
Plus, inactive members fuel debates over whether local boards are the best way to run public schools.
Governing magazine reports that the notion of changing the structure of school governance "has quietly but steadily gained support in the education reform era" that began with No Child Left Behind and continued with the Race to the Top challenge grant program.
Many feel U.S. schools aren't making the kind of progress needed to compete in the global economy.
There's also a sense in some cities that special interest money is corrupting board elections. Spending in the Los Angeles elections in March reached an estimated $4.4 million, which is believed to be a record. School boards are supposed to be somewhat removed from politics, but if they can be captured by special interest money, does that limit their effectiveness?
Finally, the coming of innovations such as charter schools, which aren't under board control, could signal the need for a new management model. But what would it be?
Some say mayoral control, pointing to Michael Bloomberg in New York and Richard Daley in Chicago as examples of chief executives who improved their schools. But success would depend on the mayor, and mayoral politics also are subject to special interest muscle. Hartford's hybrid system of four elected (including Mr. Rodriguez-Davila) and five appointed members seems to work.
The goal is educating children. If every other aspect of education is being scrutinized, there's no harm in examining school governance.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun