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