Performance Objective 2: Cultural Leadership: Develop an internal culture that is structured around high-performing teams, values collaboration, and fosters an atmosphere of trust. What we wanted to see: In the context of calling for the changes in instruction and strategic direction described above, the Board last year expressed the view that “moving closer to the goal of all students thriving will require deep cultural change that results in confidence, teamwork, individual initiative and mutual trust among the District’s people.”
What we observed: The Board sees little or no progress toward this objective. In addition, Board members have observed, via constituent communication and survey data, an internal culture where collaboration and participation are not ingrained and the erosion of trust in District leadership is sapping morale.
What we have concluded: Regarding Dr. Hargens Cultural Leadership, growth is required if the transformation envisioned in Vision 2020 is to occur. The Board wholeheartedly agrees with Dr. Hargens’ self-assessment that she must give the work back to the people who do it as she builds the internal JCPS community and gains trust through a more disciplined attention to issues and a discontinuation of surprises that erode confidence. The Board recalls the constructive concepts discussed in its June 14 work session on Labor-Management Collaboration: The central tenets of Vision 2020 are responsive to calls heard loud and clear from our teachers, but without building trust and understanding among educators on the one hand and Board and District leadership on the other, Vision 2020 will come to naught.
So what are we to make of today's story from WDRB, which indicates JCPS is bringing in an outside labor attorney for wage talks with unions? According to the story, what are typically routine talks appear now to have escalated with the involvement of James U Smith III, an attorney who has been described elsewhere as a union buster. The article indicates that hiring an outside attorney is something that is unprecedented in recent memory for JCPS negotiations and the unions for teachers and staff are not happy.
I'm curious. Is this what the school board was looking for in Dr. Hargens building trust? Or were the words of our board simply smoke and mirrors to hide some deeper agenda? In a recent CJ editorial, community business leaders praised Hargens for the internal friction within JCPS, stating, "(s)he and her team have made important progress, and along the way have ruffled a few feathers. That is a good thing. Changing the ingrained and entrenched culture in a very large organization is always difficult and some people will disagree or have their feelings hurt." As we watch JCPS bring in outside consultants, outsource major functions, and hire and consult with local business leaders on any number of vital JCPS decisions, is the message that the input of students, parents, teachers, and staff takes a back seat to that of our local business community? Parents, students, teachers, and staff have said in a loud and unified voice in board meetings, surveys, and in public that we have not been happy with the leadership of Dr Hargens and we desire positive changes be made and trust reestsblished. Antagonism of the teachers and staff we trust with our children's education is NOT that change and does NOT build trust. I ask that each member of the JCPS board weigh in with their thoughts on this action and how it coincides with their direction to Dr. Hargens less than a month ago. If they cannot or will not, perhaps it is time for us to look toward new board members who will back up their stated concern and words with actual action.