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Michael Horn’s REAL Lesson of the Pods: Being on a School Board is Hard Work

December 17, 2020


Michael Horn, frequent Forbes contributor and co-author of books on “disrupting schools” wrote an essay on the trade-offs his family and others had to make in order to implement a program they THOUGHT they agreed to with a teacher they agreed to hire. The article is written in a “lessons learned” format but it omits a few overarching lessons.

First, and most importantly, getting from a consensus on a plan to the execution of the plan requires a teaching staff that has a clear understanding of the plan and a complete commitment to it. I found it interesting that a group of articulate and educated parents who reached consensus on a plan were unable to find a teacher who could execute that plan in a way that satisfied their needs. Mr. Horn, I hope, now appreciates how daunting it is for a school board representing hundred of parents with wildly divergent ideas about how schools should operate to reach consensus on a plan let alone the effectiveness of the teachers who are responsible for the execution of the plan!

Secondly, Mr. Horn should appreciate the work that goes into the oversight of schooling: the many daily decisions that their lone teacher had to make with the pre-screened children were easy compared to those made by a teacher working with, say 25 students with varying backgrounds and varying support at home.

Thirdly, the parents in the pod saw the give and take trying to acquire instructional equipment for ONE teacher. Imagine if these parents had to make that decision for an entire school district!

My takeaway from Mr. Horn’s article is that parents like him should have a deep appreciation for the school board members they elect now that they realize the challenges of strategic planning, personnel oversight, budget decisions, and the unique needs of each parent.

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