Last week a governing board in Raleigh decided to recommend closing a school 160 miles away with little notice. No matter how you feel about charter schools in general, or about the circumstances surrounding this specific closing, the fact remains that more and more decisions are being made in hallways and meeting rooms in Raleigh that impact our classrooms and communities across the state.
What compounds the confusion around this decision is the relative lack of access and transparency that the public has to the meetings where such decisions take place. Ann Doss Helms of The Charlotte Observer recounted in her article the difficulty that she had in covering the event remotely, citing gaps in the audio streaming service that the state currently provides. She also highlighted the lack of recording archiving and outdated and incomplete agendas. With no archived recordings of meetings available, you would figure that a statewide governing board would ensure that meeting minutes would be available to the public in a timely manner. However, a visit to the Charter School Advisory Board’s website on June 19 showed that not only were the June 13-14th minutes not uploaded, the minutes from the May 9-10th meeting had also not yet been included. A visit to the State Board of Education’s website on the same day also showed that minutes from the June 1-2nd meeting had not been uploaded, nearly three weeks after the meeting.
In today’s political climate, particularly as it pertains to education in our state, the need for transparency and accountability is paramount. When our governing boards and officials work with a sense of transparency, it helps build a sense of public trust through the process.
Luckily, in 2016, technology exists that allows our governing bodies to efficiently and effectively keep the public engaged and informed. Live Video Streaming through Periscope, or other services such as those used by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, provide boards with the opportunity to intentionally build public trust and access through the governing process. The question is, will they take advantage of that opportunity?
It’s time! We need #LiveStreamforBOE so that NC State Board of Education meetings and Charter School Advisory Board meetings are open and transparent to the citizens, no matter where they live in our state. Furthermore, we need archived recordings to be made available to the public within 24 hours of meeting adjournments, so that people unable to attend a live meeting can get timely access to information that impacts their lives. It’s time we join Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and many other states that already provide live video streaming and bring our governance into the 21st century! It’s time, #LiveStreamforBOE!