That any organization, public or private, would recognize the need to review its procedures and its actions is a feather in its cap. Mission statements, goals and objectives almost always look good on paper, but not until you take a moment to see where the rubber meets the road can anyone expect to chart as direct a path as possible. This page has been critical of the District 91 Board of Education in the past for being too docile a group, but we applaud this largely new board’s impulse to install a self evaluation process.
President Glenn Garlisch brought the idea to his colleagues last month after attending a statewide conference for Illinois school board presidents. What he has pitched to board members isn’t a finished product and we would agree with some of the criticisms offered thus far. The topics addressed in Garlisch’s worksheet are a bit wimpy and it’s tough to imagine what insight would be gained from having board members hurriedly complete a multiple choice quiz as they rush out the door at the end of an hours-long meeting. But periodic self evaluations are most certainly a good idea and have been sorely lacking in previous years. This editorial page had high hopes for Garlisch’s tenure as board president when he got the nod last spring and this initiative is an example of the leadership that is needed.
Newcomer Joan White balked at the proposal and has a reputation for speaking her mind. She brings a certain level of bureaucratic experience from her days as village clerk. Though a discussion on government processes can only offer so much excitement, community members should be pleased to see that an actual debate over efficiency and performance has broken out on this traditionally quiet board. Inherent in that fact is the notion that White is challenging her colleagues to think more critically of how they operate. Presumably, this is what voters expect.
In the grand scheme of educating Forest Park’s young children, this issue is not at the forefront and we don’t mean to overplay it. There are enormous changes on the table in District 91 with respect to curriculum, teaching standards and money management. Clearly these are the priorities.
There’s also a stronger emphasis on transparency in these arenas coming from upper management. On that note, we are hopeful that Garlisch can convince the board to open up whatever evaluation process might be adopted so that taxpayers can see if their view of the board squares with what it sees in the mirror. The argument that such critiques would be exempt from public disclosure is understood, but we would remind this group–and any other that serves the public–that the laws on transparency are there to build trust, and they underline the bare minimum.