Learning the Lessons of Business

By Eugene Judson

After all, the goal of business is to produce appealing products and keep costs in check. Similarly, the goal of school districts is to provide quality education for students and keep costs in check.

Of course, we know that it’s not that simple. Many business practices are not applicable to schools as much as we’d like them to be. Perhaps the best lesson that school boards can glean from business is how to avoid decisions that lead to negative results.

Though most school board decisions will have their critics, I’m talking about those that have consequences either damaging to the perception of the board’s ability to function or to the community the board serves.

Consider these examples. The first is that of the Boulder Valley School District. In 1995, newly elected board members were more conservative than their predecessors and considered themselves to be very dedicated to improving student achievement.

To that end, the board reversed many earlier decisions of past boards, including policies that adopted new teaching trends that the new board members believed were ineffective. This board made many decisions as quickly as possible and involved the public only when absolutely necessary. It limited the number of speakers at board meetings and restricted those speakers to only two minutes each. 

Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.