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  • Writer's pictureEmily Berry

A response to my criticism of consulting, travel and coherent governance

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my original post about Coherent Governance and the money we spent on travel and consulting expenses to implement it here for our school board. I asked Dr. Shah if I could share her response, and am posting here with her permission.


Policy governance is not a fad. WASB, the National Association of School Boards, and the Center for Public Education, to name of few, all recommend policy governance. Aspen and Coherence Governance is not new, and their work, packed perhaps under a different name, has been researched extensively. This link outlines the eight characteristics of an effective school board and we do all eight!

Number eight is explicitly about board and administrative training. As I said before, policy governance is a practice, and one that benefits from continuing education. To assume that “smart people” will have the skills to govern a school district is unrealistic, and there are many examples of how smart people do not make effective leaders.

And I am not sure what you mean by a “corporate” model. You seem to agree that we don’t want a board that micromanages, has undefined roles, and personality-driven policies. Our move to policy governance helped us focus our energy on what matters, including developing roles and using policy to govern. Perhaps you can help me understand your vision. What would substantively be different in your non-CG model? I have watched the videos from the village, and they are quite frankly ineffective and often unprofessional and disrespectful. And there are plenty of examples of how that system has “failed” the citizens, right? Wilson Drive, the liquor license issue? Maybe you can give me examples of how that system has lead to effective leadership and would be better than policy governance for the school district.

The purpose of the trip to Colorado was not solely to make connections with the other policy governance folks from WI. The wisdom sharing is exactly that – sharing best practices from across the country on lots of topics, like data reports and superintendent evaluations and building a pool of interested board members. We were able to connect with the Wisconsin area districts there, and developed a plan that will be very valuable to us. And yes, while Vail is normally an extravagantly expensive destination, it is quite affordable during the off season.

I am happy to meet with you if you have further questions.

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