CSBA’s Masters in Governance program moves online to serve members during COVID-19
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CSBA’s Masters in Governance program is the premier professional development opportunity for school board members interested in strengthening their understanding of the foundations of effective district governance, school finance, community relations and advocacy, human resources and policy development. As a result of COVID-19, the robust program has been adapted and will soon be offered for the first time online. California School News caught up with CSBA Director of Trainings Darcel Lee to learn more about what members can expect from the virtual version, and why it is more important than ever that governance teams ensure they are effective in promoting student success.
What is the Masters in Governance program and how do members who complete all the courses benefit from doing so?
The Masters in Governance program, or MIG as we fondly refer to it, is a five-part course designed to support board members and the superintendent (together, the governance team) in becoming more informed, more educated and more knowledgeable about being an effective board member. Each course builds on the previous course — from setting the foundation and the direction of the board to the board’s role in student achievement, to finance, policy and judicial review, to human resources and collective bargaining, and finally, community relations. Any member of the board who enrolls in and completes this amazing program will be provided with the tools and the skill set to be a more well-rounded and effective board member.

What can members expect from the online version of MIG? Have the courses been reimagined in any way?
Our members can expect to receive the same content, exercises and activities and the same quality training that they have come to expect in the in-person sessions. We will offer the same presenters and trainers, but we have integrated new and updated content into each module. In particular, we have now included a strand on equity, integrated key principles from Davis Campbell and Michael Fullan’s book The Governance Core and we are including themes around generational diversity. We have adapted the content so that, even virtually, board members can still expect an interactive experience. Technology will be used to enhance and expand the training. We are excited about offering MIG virtually. I think our members can actually expect to have more fun with each course and to use more of the Online Learning Center to support the training they will receive in their virtual sessions.

Are there some benefits you think members will find from taking the courses online rather that in-person?
Yes. For one thing, members will not have to travel, and that expense will be one that the district will not have to worry about. They will also be able to take the course at various times of day. We will offer courses during the day, some on the weekends and some in the evening. There will be more of an opportunity to take MIG courses when it is convenient for the learner. And we believe the virtual experience will also allow some members to complete the courses a bit sooner and graduate faster. The virtual graduation experience will also be fun and exciting for every graduate.

With the challenges facing school boards right now in terms of education funding, ensuring the safety of students and staff and addressing long-standing racial inequities, how important is it that governance teams continue to prioritize their own professional development?
In this time of uncertainty, change and flux, it is even more critical that our districts look at professional development as a tool to help them better govern, to assist them with information, best practices and key issues that they will need to address in this very fluid time of crisis and uncertainty. We believe that we are responsible for equipping our board members with the best advice and the best resources there are so that they can govern well and govern effectively, and ensure their districts will remain relevant, stay safe and stay in compliance with all aspects of their work. The MIG program, our New Board Member Institute, our Board Presidents training and our Governance Consulting Services are all trainings and programs that will ensure that board members are equipped with the most relevant and timely information, tools, policies and advice that they will need to navigate successfully through these very difficult times. So yes, professional development should take a front seat and should be a priority, not something that is neglected — especially right now.

Where will the training be available? When can members expect to be able to register?
The MIG training will be available via Zoom around late September, and we hope to open registration sometime in August. We will first give priority to those classes that were cancelled this spring and then we will begin to schedule MIG courses for 2021.