How many parents have actually attended a meeting of their local school board? I am not sure, but I’m guessing the statistic is pretty small. We’ve lived in Edmond, Oklahoma, for almost three years now, and I admit I’ve never attended a school board meeting. Yet. I’m planning to attend tomorrow’s regularly scheduled school board meeting, not because I have an axe to grind at this meeting or am interested in a particular issue or announcement on the published agenda, but because I want to learn more about our local school board, the members who serve on the board, and the potential opportunities which may exist to advocate for constructive educational change / educational transformation particularly as it involves digital literacy and issues of student engagement. Connectivity and bandwidth-permitting (I’ll be bringing my own AT&T 3G network card) I’ll attempt to use both UStream Mobile and CoverItLive to provide live coverage of the meeting.

I’ll embed the actual live Ustream video in the CoverItLive session, so you should be able to view it within the CoverItLive window during the actual meeting / session. In case you just want to view the live video stream separately, however, here’s the embedded video. Note this will only function when my Ustream channel is actually “live” and I’m broadcasting. I’ll tweet out a link to this post when the meeting starts as well, in case you want to tune in.

Free Videos by Ustream.TV

I’m not expecting, and I won’t lead you to expect, anything really exciting or earth-shattering at this meeting, which begins at 6 pm CST tomorrow. (11 pm Monday, April 6, 2009 GMT) I’m guessing the meeting will last a couple of hours. The only technology related items I see in the published agenda (which interestingly is NOT directly linkable from the Edmond School Board website, you have to click “Current Agenda” in the left sidebar to download it) are the following items:

  1. 22. Approve purchase of 135 SmartBoards from Video Reality at a cost of $183,600 ($1,360 each) to be paid from Technology Funds.
  2. 37. Declare as surplus and authorize administration to dispose of approximately 1,000 CRT monitors that will be replaced with flat-panel monitors after online testing.

Wow, that’s a lot of SmartBoards. If our school board was purchasing Netbooks for $400 each, it could purchase over 450 of them for the same amount of money. Imagine: 450 Netbooks in the hands of Edmond students at one of our area schools… Could something like this ever come to pass in our city?

1000 monitors for use in online testing… Can you make a reasonable inference based on this information about the priorities for educational technology use which are mandated by our state, today, and operationalized by our school districts? I’ll give you a hint. The priority is NOT on student created media, student communication or collaboration.

The posted notes for the March 2nd regular school board meeting meeting indicate the following technology related bids were awarded:

  1. 20. Awarded bid for classroom projectors to Video Reality at a cost of $680 per projector.
  2. 21. Awarded bid for Storage Area Network (SAN) and Network File Servers to be paid from Technology Bond Funds.
    a. SAN: ISG Technologies at a cost of $60,523.74
    b. File Servers: ISG Technologies at a cost of $23,154.00 (for 2)

I’m planning to make more use of the “Media Library” features of the CoverItLive website during this event, which permits bloggers to pre-load images, links, and polls into the site so they can be readily shared during a live event. I’ve created a new directory in my Media Library’s “images” directory and included the published photos of our school board members, so I can include links to them easily during the meeting. (I found FireFox worked better than Safari when loading images into the media library, for some reason. Safari wouldn’t finish the image uploads for some reason.) I’ve also created a few short polls which I may use during the board meeting.

Interestingly the sixth item for the board meeting “notes for from the March 2nd meeting was:

6. Public Participation – None

It will be interesting to find out more about what past instances of “Public Participation” at board meetings have constituted, and what the procedure is for “publicly participating” during that time of the board meeting. I’m really fairly clueless about the personalities, personal agendas, and internal politics of our local school board. Based on the district’s map, I can see we live in district #1 and our elected board representative is Charles Woodham. He currently serves as the vice-president of the board.

Hopefully, the meeting won’t be so dull I’ll be lulled to sleep at the CoverItLive keyboard controls. (I’m betting I won’t, especially if others join in to make the session interactive!) I’m looking forward to another opportunity to learn more about using event webcasting and live blogging tools, while also learning more about our own local school board.

My main question after spending some time exploring and trying to use the Edmond School Board website is, where are the archived meeting notes and board agendas? I can just find a link to last month’s board meeting “notes.” I was thinking these had to be electronically archived due to sunshine laws? Perhaps not, or perhaps I am just missing the links somewhere.

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On this day..

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  • Jane Kraut

    I do not know about your district but in Hayward Unified School District, California. The public can comment at the beginning of open session and to address a particular adgenda item. The speaker must fill out a speaker card and state their intention. Speakers are called in the order the cards are turned in. Good luck and it never hurts to get to know your school board.
    Jane Kraut
    Library Teacher
    Eden Gardens Elementary School
    Hayward, CA 94545

  • Yan Sun

    I appreciate your emphasis on “individualized learning plans, not just graduation plans”. Yes, scademic standards and testing requirements have made up of the current culture of high-stakes accountability. Teachers are teaching the way the controllers of the system want them to teach. Teachers will not be rewarded for crafting stimulating lessons… We need changes to make the “individualized and customized approaches” possible. But, this will be extremely difficult. I will quote Meier’s words, “The task of creating environments where all kids can experience the power of their ideas requires unsettling not only our accepted organization of schooling and our unspoken or unacknowledged agreement about the purpose of schools. Taking this task seriously also means calling into question our definitions of intelligence and the ways in which we judge each other.”

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