Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Students can be part of superintendent search

This from Hiatt Allen in the Courier-Journal:
On Thursday, the Kentucky House passed House Bill 236 with a vote of 88 to 5. The bill, conceived by the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team, amends KRS 160.352 to allow for an optional student representative on superintendent screening committees. 

Hiatt Allen
In the course of building support, the Student Voice Team found that some legislators question whether students are capable of following confidentiality guidelines set forth by such committees. We take the concern seriously and have done our research to allay it.

The superintendent screening committee currently consists of two teachers, one classified staff, one principal, one board of education member, one parent and, in some cases, one minority member. Each member must undergo training before serving on the committee in order to understand how to navigate the process and the information. Students would — and should — be treated no differently.

Legal concern about students serving in this capacity as minors has no basis in fact. As First Amendment attorney Jon Fleischaker of Dinsmore and Shohl put it: "There is no legal reason why a minor cannot have access to confidential information which may exist in a superintendent search."
But, if attorney confidence isn't enough assurance, University of Kentucky's General Counsel William Thro explained there is an easy fix: Minors could simply have a parent sign a confidentiality agreement on their behalf. Thro elaborated that legal issues could be further mitigated by having candidates waive their confidentiality rights, just as patients do with regard to disclosing health information.

Yet another objection to our legislation stems from the suspicion that being an adolescent implies an inherent disadvantage in handling sensitive information. But that is selling the potential of young people short. A cursory look at our history textbooks and the headlines proves that in the realm of public policy, students are capable of doing remarkably high-level work.

When he was just 14, future President John Quincy Adams represented the United States on a mission in Russia to convince Catherine the Great to support the cause of the United States.
Arkansas' teenaged Little Rock Nine worked in sync with the civil rights movement to spearhead the integration of the state's public schools during the height of racial tension. Even more recently, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize fighting for the rights of girls worldwide to receive an equitable education.

But even in the specialized context of serving on a superintendent screening committee, students who already serve in high capacities of school governance across America further neutralize the concern about confidentiality.

In the District of Columbia and Hawaii, students serve on the state board of education. And in Montgomery County, Md., students have elected a student representative to the board for decades. Alan Xie, who at 16 successfully served on the Montgomery County board as a voting member of the superintendent screening committee, is adamant about students' ability to manage sensitive information. "In the history of our board," he said, "there has never been an issue with confidentiality on the part of our student member."

Rachel Gunther from the Boston-based Youth on Board, which trains young people to serve on boards with adults, backs Xie up. When it comes to ensuring students can handle sensitive information related to board service, she emphasized, training is everything. Gunther told us decades of field experience dictate that there is virtually no difference between young people and adults in the ability to apply discretion with sensitive personnel and other information.

Students spend 35 hours a week in the classroom and are the chief stakeholders in our schools. Why rule out even the possibility of considering us as partners at the superintendent screening table?
Just as we have always trusted the General Assembly to act in our best interest, we ask you to trust us, as responsible and engaged young citizens, to handle confidential information inherent in the superintendent screening process.

Now is the time to pass House Bill 236.
Hiatt Allen is the social media director of the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team and one of its co-founders. He is a recent graduate of Tates Creek High School in Lexington and a current freshman at American University.

H/T 2 Andrew & Rachel.


solarity said...

I wish someone would make a thoughtful and cogent argument why children should have any input into executive management hiring issues. It is hard enough for seasoned mature adults to identify managerial talent. Why in the name of god would you want naive', inexperienced children to have input? Lets just turn the asylum over to the inmates. Unbelievable nonsense.

Richard Day said...

OK. So to recap, you see 17-year olds as as crazy, naive, inexperienced children, and board members as seasoned, mature, adult, executive managers.

Spin much?

But, I'd have to say you are not completely wrong. Some kids are stunningly immature and I hope they would not be elected. By the same token, I've seen my share of stunningly immature board members that I also wish had not been elected.

But having worked with some of our state's top students and understanding what they are capable of, I am heartened by the prospects.

You impress me as a glass-half-empty kind of person.

solarity said...

Choosing the CEO of any large organization is a serious function that should be performed by people experienced in evaluating executive talent. With age and experience one can generally expect to come some wisdom. Adolescents may have many virtues but the experience and knowledge base necessary to select the right executive leader for a large organization is highly unlikely to be one of them. This is so thunderously obvious that the mind reels that any sensible educator would question it.

Anonymous said...

No one is saying that the students on the screening committee will have a vote on who is hired; there is a significant difference. One is voice, the other is vote.
I find it odd that you feel the need to use the level of hyperbole expressed in your comments. You don't appear to want to discuss anyone's else veiws, only disparage those who do not share your opinion.

Anonymous said...

So long as transgender folks get bathroom selection right and all others have religious free speech rights.

(I kind of thought we already covered this stuff a couple of hundred years ago with that Constitution thing.)