Fact check: on the IASB School Board Governance Award

Recently, the chair of the Incumbent PAC posted on the neighborhood Facebook groups, the following:

The Board of High School District 214 was recently recognized by the State for quality Public Education. The Illinois Association of School Boards awarded D214 “The school board governance recognition award!” This award acknowledges the School Board for engaging in activities that lead to excellence. This is a very rigorous process according to IASB.

The reality is that this award is not rigorous, was not granted by the state (IASB is not a part of state government), and was not about “quality public education.”

This award, the School Board Governance Recognition, was not based on extensive application materials but on a single document, which was obtained via the FOIA process and can be viewed at this link:

IASB Recognition 2022

A read-through of this document strongly suggests that this is the school board equivalent of the doctor-of-the-year selection process involving purchasing advertising space:  throughout the document, the author highlights the use of IASB tools and services, including

  • The online IASB course “Superintendent Evaluation,”
  • The IASB PRESS Plus service for board policy revisions,
  • IASB online courses for Open Meetings Act training and other new board member training,
  • An October 2021 IASB Board Workshop,
  • The IASB Conference 2021,
  • IASB Webinars, and
  • An IASB program for “best practices” for board members, which is particularly singled out as worthy of praise.

Did they “buy” the award through their participation?  There’s no way to know how many districts applied and were not selected, but the description of the award makes it clear that it is not about “good governance” but about boards which undertake training programs:  “The primary focus of this program is on full board development and participation. Effective school boards understand that excellence in local school board governance requires full board commitment to obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities critical to good governance.”

As to the rest, well, read the application and draw your own conclusions.