I got curious about an active hashtag on Twitter last night: #ElectedBoardNow

From what I could determine, Chicago’s school district has been in debate about appointed vs. elected school boards.  Currently and for some time now, the mayor has had the power to appoint school board members to 4-year terms, but recently there have been opponents and challenge for change.  From this article about the debate,

Many Chicagoans are unhappy with the condition of the city’s public schools and all four of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s opponents support a change to the 20-year-old referendum giving the mayor power to appoint school board members to four-year terms.”

I found it interesting that the mayor is also held accountable for school performance.  I can’t claim to understand the complete context and process there, but there were good points made about pros and cons of both appointed and elected boards.  The main issue was well described in that article, I thought:

The main issue seems to be the balance between keeping the community’s concerns and involvement at the forefront of educational policy while simultaneously ensuring that the board has diverse and qualified members.”

This article covered the debate well too, and includes a link to a report done by the University of Illinois:

The report calls for an elected, representative school board in the city, though researchers acknowledged that there is “no guarantee” educational policies will become more equitable or effective after such a switch.”

That article also mentions their local school councils, with the current mayor maintaining that “the city does have elected school boards in the form of Local School Councils (LCS).”  That statement was also challenged referring to the undermining and lack of “power” of the LCS.

But back to the updates via the hashtag: Elected School Board referendum wins by a landslide.

The discussions and debate about Ontario’s elected boards of trustees have quieted some, but the Chicago situation got me thinking… Ontario’s school councils are supposed to be elected, but often aren’t, and may or may not have governing bylaws.  Ontario’s Parent Involvement Committees can be elected or appointed, and are more likely to have bylaws (being board level committees).  Ontario’s boards of trustees are elected and have extensive governance processes to follow.  I referred to their governance guides in a previous post.

It can easily seem like a lot of inconsistency and politics and it leaves me wondering where elections matter and where they don’t… if governance matters more… and who is accountable to and for what?

Who wants to follow up on Chicago ahead?