Just yesterday, I found the perfect example of what I mean when I say that there is a lack of transparency in the district. I get an email from my kid’s high school, asking me to take a survey about the possibility of a county-wide International Baccalaureate program. (I linked to the survey here.) The email assured me that “NO FINAL DECISION HAS BEEN MADE, but the county-wide IB Committee would like to determine if there is interest.”
OK, so—on the topic of the International Baccalaureate program—I don’t know all that much. I know a few kids who go to schools that use that model (one in Oakland County, one in South Bend). It isn’t an option I’m interested in, but there might be some people who are interested in it. So this is neither an endorsement or rejection of the idea.
Here are some of my questions about it:
Why is it being considered? There are a zillion and one things in the AAPS strategic plan. Specifically, what problem are we trying to solve by creating a new program at this time?
Is this the best solution to that problem?
If it is an important program, why not create it as a small magnet program at Huron or Pioneer?Why is it important to have it as a county-wide consortium, and what will that mean for Ann Arbor? Would it affect any of our other high schools?
How much will it cost?
But that is a little bit of a digression. Let’s return to the process question. I tried searching the AAPS web site to find out more about the International Baccalaureate program, and the only things that turned up were references to the strategic plan, or (in board meeting minutes), to pursuing the IB possibility because of the strategic plan.There is nothing that gives me any information at all about what an IB program includes.
The email refers to the county-wide IB Committee, but I could find no references to the committee on the AAPS web site. So, who exactly is on this committee?
A general Google search referred me to an article by David Jesse in annarbor.com, from September 2nd, 2009 (yes, that is 3 months ago) which says:
A countywide program for advanced students will “very likely” be started by the fall of 2011, Ann Arbor school Superintendent Todd Roberts said Wednesday.So—a decision has been made? Or, according to the email I got, it hasn’t been made? It sounds to me as if the only thing missing is a final stamp of approval. Saying that “no decision has been made,” and asking for a survey to assess interest, when officials have publicly said it is very likely to happen is—at best—disingenuous. At least, when I ask for transparency, what I’m asking for is that the district: a) share the process, not just the end results and b) tell the (whole) truth.
[Read on: Transparency, Part 3: How to Thank A Teacher]