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  • Writer's pictureRich Haglund

Thank a civic board or commission member

If you look around, you'll be amazed at how much happens because of the volunteers who serve on civic boards and commissions.

I recently attended a meeting of the Maine Charter School Commission. This state government entity oversees the establishment of a diverse group of public schools across the state. The Commission holds these schools accountable to preparing all of their students to be "happy, healthy and thriving citizens."

Commission members are volunteers, appointed by the State Board of Education to serve three year terms. The current members have teaching, school and district leadership, political, and business experience. Each nonprofit charter school organization enters a performance agreement with the Commission that spells out the standards that have to be met for the school to remain open.

This month, I witnessed a stellar example of strong accountability combined with demonstrated trust in fellow community members. One school's performance contract is up for renewal. But the school's recent results concerned the Commission. One commissioner, speaking directly to the school leader and board chair who were present. The commissioner expressed her faith in the school leader and the board to deliver. But, she added, if the expected results aren't attained, the Commission will not renew the school's contract. She reiterated the Commission's ultimate responsibility to the students and the community.

Most of the news is taken up by elections for national and state political offices. Meanwhile, most regulation, oversight, and support of the institutions that matter in our communities happens because of volunteer civic board and commission members (In Illinois alone, there are 365 boards, commissions, and councils comprised of appointed citizens in Illinois!)

So, I encourage you to consider serving on a civic board or commission. Check out the Appointments Project of United WE, focused on increasing the number of women and the diversity of individuals serving on boards and commissions.

Whether or not you decide to serve, look for a board or commission that regulates something you care about and thank a member or two for freely giving their time and energy to serve you and your community.

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