School Board's Oversight Role

By Charles K. Trainor

In Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Jack Worthington and Algernon Moncrieff live double lives. Jack lives in the country and pretends to have a spendthrift brother, Ernest, whom he must regularly visit to set things right. Algernon, on the other hand, lives in the city and pretends to have an invalid friend he must visit in the country.

Both characters use deceit as a means to shirk their responsibilities and hide their activities. Fortunately, all ends well despite the lies and unethical behavior of the play’s two main characters.

In real life, such behaviors are rarely harmless. But an earnest school board can counteract possible subterfuge or unethical behavior.

Most people become school board members to serve their community, believing they can help solve district problems such as faltering academic performance, increased class sizes, or lackluster sports programs. They resolve to use their talent and skills to improve conditions and are earnest in their efforts to do the right thing.

Once immersed in their role, board members often are surprised to find their responsibilities go far beyond their original reasons for seeking the office. Boards face an extensive array of concerns -- policy issues regarding transportation, food service, financial transactions, insurance, textbooks, school vacation schedules, construction project budgets, and tax rates, just to name a few. 

Would you like to continue reading?
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.