A friend and I were talking with some other teachers about school board issues when another teacher jumped in and said "I don't like the idea of local school board control at all. Not because they sometimes make decisions I don't like, but because it doesn't seem right that just because you're elected you're at all qualified to manage a multi-million dollar 'business'". For a moment, I agreed with him. After all, the skill set to become a school board member (i.e. the ability to run a small campaign and acquire a few thousand votes) doesn't necessarily mean you know what you're doing once you're on the board. While there have been and are many excellent board members, people run for many different reasons. Some run because they're concerned parents. Others run to keep the taxes low. Some run as a stepping stone to other offices, while some run because they're financial experts. While those might all be valid reasons...does it really mean you're qualified to make decisions? Some of the decisions that board members have to make are extremely complicated; it would be like two brain surgeons asking a layman which procedure they should run. Even if the doctors thoroughly explained the choices, would the laymen be the best people to make the decision?
But...there's one problem. School boards aren't the only thing set up this way. In fact, the entire United States government is set up in this manner. The federal, state, and even local governments are all run by not only laymen, but politicians. These are people who's skill sets lie not in their ability to make decisions or understand numbers, but to sell things and get elected. The hope, of course, is that once elected, the politicians will appoint experts to help them make decisions, but still, the people who ultimately have the responsibility and power to make decisions don't necessarily know what they're doing.
Like I said, this isn't aimed at any group in particular, but the system as a whole. I'm not really sure if there's a better system out there (socialism, fascism, and communism don't offer better people, they just take away choice), but the one we have doesn't always yield the best people. The only solution? A committed public, and a robust group of candidates to ensure only quality people win elections. As teachers...I guess that means we'd better get to work.