Sunday, December 30, 2007

TPS Board has lost sight of their duty

According to this article in The Blade, the Toledo Public School board wants to make sure that the banks and financial institutions they do business with have proper diversity programs.

Excuse me? Since when did it become the role of the TPS Board to monitor, supervise or direct the employment practices of financial institutions? Answer: it didn't.

Unfortunately, for the public and the students, the board seems more interested in such social issues than they do the students they're supposed to be serving.

To say that they're wasting their time would be charitable. Ohio law requires the board to take the highest interest rates for their investments. If a bank without any 'diversity program' offers a rate of 5% and bank with a 'fantastic' (in the eyes of the school board members) diversity program offers a rate of 4%, the diversity program doesn't matter one iota. The board has to take the 5% rate.

So why in the world are the board members and staff of Toledo Public Schools meeting with banks in order to examine their diversity programs? You'd think they had enough problems to focus upon considering our test scores, schools in academic emergency for over five years, financial issues and looming contract negotiations.

The data being requested from the banks are public information that the district has requested at least twice before — May, 1998, and November, 2002.

It's not clear how the district has used the information in the past.

The board now proposes to amend contracts with the banks to include a yearly reporting schedule of this information.

Do not think for one minute that the banks are not aware of the implied threat of these meetings and the possible inclusion of this clause in future contracts.

This borders on extortion - do what we want in terms of diversity or risk that we'll find a way around the law to penalize you by withdrawing 'our' money if you don't. (Forgetting, of course that the TPS money doesn't belong to the board, but rather to the people of the district.)

So even though the board has no authority in this area, they're going to try and exert influence on a social issue - and one that has no relevance to their duties and responsibilities to provide a quality education for the district.

This is part of what's wrong with this area - we elect people to fulfill specific responsibilities and then allow them to use the power of their office to try and effect social policy changes in unrelated areas. The truly sad part of this is that many in the community will praise them for what they're doing.

TPS should stop focusing on diversity programs of banks and start worrying about how they're going to improve test scores - which is what they promised to do.

Related: Tim at Just Blowing Smoke has a great post on the educational system in general. While it doesn't address this topic, it has some points which are certainly more important that the diversity programs of banks who hold TPS funds.

4 comments:

Roo said...

Maggie,

Thank you for turning on the light and focusing it on this subject.

TPS is already in violation of their fiduciary duties to the citizens and students of their district. It may just be time for the state to take charge of this board and expose their practices for what they are.

In the 1960s there were some major steps made to desegregate and integrate schools all over this country. This was a major breakthrough in learning to live together regardless of skin color, nationality, etc.

TPS seems to focus so much on "diversity" programs (that reads as race related issues) that they have fully lost sight of the importance of providing a quality education for all children. The race card is still in play in Toledo, Ohio. And that, in my opinion, is beyond sad. It proves that we intend to live in the past instead of charging into the future.

This is a disservice to our children. Plain and simple.

Further, if I were a bank officer (I wouldn't last a day!) I would respectfully tell the TPS Board that the rates are what they are and the policies and programs of the bank are none of their business. The end. Of course, that would undoubtedly make my banking career rather short, but it's ludicrous to think that a private business has to account to anyone for their corporate policies.

Thanks for letting me vent. This is one of the most bone-headed things that TPS has done in a long time.

Maggie Thurber said...

Roo - I had a line in the post that I took out - very similar to your last thoughts.

"What's the matter with these banks, asking 'how high' when these ridiculous board members say jump?

But, the implied threat has numerous negative implications for these businesses. And, as you say, such MYOB statements don't go over well in Toledo's political environment...

Robin said...

Oh geez... why can't they focus this hard on making sure that the kids who attend TPS schools are adequately educated?

Hooda Thunkit said...

Do I detect a bit of a JFO replay rearing its ugly head again?

Just wait until we get a sense of what this is going to COST us taxpayers. . .

And, just how does any of this nonsense further educate TPS's students?

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