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.