This post is one of the four supporting statements of my Governing Board Platform.
I feel there needs to be two key improvements
in the way we work with each other at Freedom Academy:
- Better Communication
- Better Transparency
Freedom Academy’s motto is to “Soar Without Limits.” If we are to live up to that, and truly enable every student the opportunity to learn and excel, we have some improvements to make,
- At the beginning of the school year, there were significant changes happening in the school’s schedule. For several weeks, it was unclear what, if anything was going on. The unfortunate result is that many of the parents I know blamed their teachers for being disorganized, when the bigger-picture would reveal that the school was having some last-minute scheduling changes that the teachers were trying to work with as best they could—but no communication went out to parents.
- The school is trying to make a move to “paperless” which I applaud, but the transition is leaving some people high-and-dry. We need to ensure that every family and every concerned stakeholder who wants and deserves information about our school can get it in a timely manner. Even better, leveraging technical tools like, for example, facebook, the (see the Fans of Freedom page on Facebook) school should be reaching out to the school’s stakeholders in ways that don’t require busy parents and guardians to go looking for information.
- Last year, several students were suspended with literally just weeks before the end of the year because they received too many tardies/late days. While there was some communication on the topic, it wasn’t coordinated well and only enhanced the frustration parents felt when being notified their child could no-longer attend school… at the end of the year.
Peer-reviews, the long-held tradition of academia, are a perfect example of where transparency and openness has its place. If something is important enough to be done, it should be important enough to be visible and examined by any who choose to see it.
At the end of the last school year, there were many staffing and organizational changes that occurred thanks to at least one reason–the reduction in school funding from the state. While changes in staffing are never easy, there was insufficient communication in a few areas:
- Parents did not know there were staffing changes going on because of funding. Many parents have vocalized to me that, if they knew their child’s art or singing specialty class’ funding was inadequate and the program was being cut, they would have gladly given money to keep the programs (and teachers around).
- Some of the teachers’ departures seem inconsistent with their history and performance at the school. Possibly they left voluntarily, but their departure and replacement was not communicated well to the school community. Many would have wanted to thank them for their service or congratulate them on whatever new position they were accepting.
Furthermore, the school’s recent moves toward an expansion from K-6 to (now) K-8 and then K-12 over the next two years were relatively unknown thoughts and ideas to me as a parent who tries to be informed! I knew nothing of the expansion plans which seemed to already be moving forward with or without my support. (Note that the expansion is currently on-hold pending further research and planning per the last Governing Board meeting).
Transparency in operations breeds trust and accountability. Its easier to fail when nobody knows I am trying to do something hard. Its also easier to gather assistance when everyone can trust me because I have always been completely open and up-front.
Education is based primarily on sharing information and seeking the “greater good” for us all. It seems to strike at the very heart of a successful educational organization’s success, if it can not be honest and open—first with it’s faculty—and always with it’s parents and community.
If elected to the Governing Board, every stakeholder of Freedom Academy—administrator to parent/guardian—can be assured I will press to be sure we communicate better and are clear about all our actions and motives so you can help us make the best decisions for our students and our school.