School Board Election Transparency and Flow

My family didn’t realize an election for Dripping Springs ISD was happening until my mom received an early voting ballot in the mail. After too much digging, we found this page on the pretty awful district website.

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The bios there are a handful of paragraphs that do not communicate vision or provide much of a writing sample. I need writing samples to elect someone to a school board. School systems demand much of our kids, and school representatives should put at least as much effort into their campaign writing as a student does on a writing prompt on a standardized test.

Finding the election information page took some doing. The district website is a tough one to navigate and follow. The main sections of the site are District News and Calendar. I can find no mention of the election in either section. To find the election page,  you must search for “election”.

How easy is the election to find from social media?  A search for “election” on the district’s Facebook page has no results since 2013.

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Twitter fares no better. A search for “election” there likewise doesn’t turn up anything since 2013.

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How about on independent websites? Searching the local watering hole blog turns up nothing about the election. How about the city’s website? Neither “election” or “trustees” turns up election information.

How about the candidates, how visible are they? I found Facebook groups for the two incumbents. One is closed to comments without joining the group and the other is closed completely without joining the group and has only 12 members.

This is not transparent.

What to do about it? Well, I recently met Austin Kids First at a do_action event. They are working on transparency and candidate cultivation in Austin ISD. Sounds like AISD was in a similar situation a few years ago. I get the feeling this is typical of most districts. Now, thankfully, these questionnaires offer a sense of the vision, policy and writing of AISD board candidates.

I’d like DSISD candidates to answer the questions in those questionnaires as well as these:

  • Are you on board with Most Likely to Succeed and project-based learning?
  • Where can I go online to find out about you and your vision for Dripping Springs education?
  • What is the board’s role in modernizing the tools and workflow of DSISD to accommodate project-based learning and transparency?
  • What is the board’s role in ensuring that the digital, physical, and cultural infrastructure of DSISD accommodates all people, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, neurodivergence, personal appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or nationality.
  • Should creationism be taught in school?

I think those give a feel for a candidate’s grasp of modernity. The first question is particularly important given that DSISD is becoming a district of innovation so it can embrace the Most Likely to Succeed narrative and project-based learning. This is a big deal, yet I know nothing about the candidates’ positions on MLTS and project-based learning. The district’s social media and website have said nothing about it since announcing some screenings of the film back in January.

We need an Austin Kids First style effort for DSISD, and the district needs some publishing and social media flow. I happen to know some people who can help with publishing, for free, including freedom zero. Involve students in the project of bringing modern, open source publishing flow to the district with the help of volunteers from the communities and companies that will be in some of their futures. Start project-based learning by involving them in publishing and technology. Allow them advocacy and agency by letting them participate in building the digital infrastructure of a modern, project-based, transparent district in touch with the creative commons and the future of work.

21 thoughts on “School Board Election Transparency and Flow

  1. An incumbent up for election posted about early voting on Theneighborsofdrippingsprings Facebook group. The district website and social media still haven’t mentioned the election. Theneighborsofdrippingsprings is a closed group. You must request to get in. A threshold like this should not exist on election information. Threshold flow is important, and this is poor threshold flow.

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      1. The Facebook post where the community was discussing candidates, particularly incumbents, seems to have been deleted. The absenteeism of the incumbents was the focus of the discussion.

        Screen Shot

        I pinged the board member who made the post via FB messenger asking what happened to it. Election comments from the community on the DSISD FB page have also been deleted in the past.

        The school district’s email service bounces messages as spam containing links to this site, and probably others, further insulating them.

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  2. The moment social media silence was broken, real discussion and diligence happened. Then that discussion was deleted. There is evident need for a public venue to discuss the election. The DSISD Facebook page, which is open to the public, seems a good venue. The district cannot promote candidates, but they can post election information and allow the community to comment.

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  3. I posted the following to Theneighborsofdrippingsprings.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Theneighborsofdrippingsprings/permalink/598349950338195/?comment_id=598363010336889

    Recently, early election information was posted to this group by a school board member. As there has been a total blackout on election information on district media, this was much appreciated. Community members engaged in a reasoned discussion on incumbent board members, using board meeting notes to compile attendance records. That post was deleted yesterday. I asked the board member who posted it why it was taken down.

    Community election comments on the DSISD Facebook page were also deleted.

    On April 19th, I sent some questions to school board candidates via the email addresses on their applications. One replied noting their response to the questions would take a little time. No candidate has provided answers to the questions, thus far.

    I talked to Bruce Gearing about mentioning the election on the district’s website and social media. While the district cannot advocate for candidates, I believe they can mention the election and let the community discuss. I suggested to him doing exactly this.

    Candidate bios are available here:

    http://www.dsisd.txed.net/index.aspx?NID=3908

    And here is the early voting schedule:

    Dripping Springs ISD Administrative Building, 510 West Mercer St.

    Monday, April 25 – 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
    Tuesday, April 26 through Friday, April 29 – 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
    Saturday, April 30 – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
    Monday, May 2 – 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
    Tuesday, May 3 – 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

    The questions I asked and everything I’ve discovered so far are on this post:

    https://ryan.boren.me/2016/04/11/school-board-election-transparency-and-flow/

    Scroll down to the comments for updates on the deletions.

    Regards,

    Ryan Boren

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  4. In my opinion, people who are public figures have an obligation to be courteous both to the public they serve and to other public figures. If they aren’t, they risk harming the public entity they represent because of interpersonal grievances that have nothing to do with the work of their public entity. I have certainly tried to operate by this premise in my eight years as a school board member and three years as board president.

    Based on this premise, I encouraged Shelly Reeves to delete the post that appeared on the Neighbors of Dripping Springs. When the Executive Director of a public entity posts information that casts a negative light on other public figures (and is also incorrect), I do not think anyone’s interests are served for an online argument about the facts to ensue. The work of the public entities is simply too important.

    I certainly understand your desire for complete online transparency. It is a laudable goal. I hope you understand my desire to attempt to prevent interpersonal grievances from impacting the important work of the school board.

    Please feel free to contact me directly with questions by e-mail at barbara@stroudmediation.com

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      1. Deleting a thread like that is like taking your ball and going home in a huff. Engage in the conversation and win on the merit of your ideas and the persuasiveness of your words. Not a single attempt was made to engage the conversation before the post was deleted. That is poor, unacceptable etiquette.

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    1. And please keep in mind that the public entity they represent is under wholesale indictment. We must indict our systems and our roles in them to make progress. Hiding behind hand-waving respectability doesn’t cut it anymore.

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  5. Most Likely to Succeed, Excellent Sheep, the neurodiversity movement, and geeks and nerds who can no longer endure the casual, thoughtless cruelty of our schools are coming. We geeks have been building our own system and institutions. We’ve been building alternative pipelines to work because our education system is intellectually, ethically, and morally bankrupt – or near enough so to round down. Our ranks are swelling with LGBTQ, neurodivergent, and disabled humans who have endured systemic inhumanity.The system is under indictment and must wake to change so that our future STEM contributors can get to those of us waiting for them in life after school. Compliance culture must and will be upended. Acceptance, the social model of disability, and design for real life are improving companies and industries. Schools need to join the movement.

    Experts in the current credentialist system must become neophytes again as they retool for the continuous, relentless learning from which they have been isolated. Navigating this sea change requires boldness, willingness to learn, and the acquisition of many perspectives.

    https://ryan.boren.me/2016/04/28/excellent-sheep/

    https://ryan.boren.me/2016/04/21/the-leader-in-me-and-compliance-culture/

    https://iriesmialpreserve.org/2016/04/26/design-for-real-life/

    https://ryan.boren.me/2016/04/24/ableism-secrecy-and-the-lost-art-of-interpersonal-skills/

    https://ryan.boren.me/2016/04/24/please-take-off-your-hat-for-the-threshold-guardians-just-doing-their-jobs/

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