Demystifying School Board Meetings and Public Audience Commenting

The Civic Commons Radio Project is featuring two podcasts residents should hear.

First, a description of the show:
The Civic Commons podcast is a dynamic half-hour public affairs program airing Saturday mornings on 88.7 FM, WJCU and Tuesday evenings on WYSU. It features citizen voices more than talking heads, citizen commentaries instead of expert drones, and hosts who are always looking for different ways to set the stage for discussion. Hosted by award-winning public radio host Dan Moulthrop, produced by Luke Frazier of NOW Productions with assistance from WJCU and edited by Daniel Steinberg of Dim Sum Thinking. The podcast is part of The Civic Commons, a regional effort to bring more citizens into the conversations that matter (find out more at You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. (Download iTunes.)
Now, the two shows.

The first one aired on Tuesday, July 5 (you can listen here) and is about school board meeting participation:
Have you ever been to a school board meeting? Isn’t something about them kind of bizarre…almost like Kabuki Theater? A stylized dance where citizens stand and speak, board members listen (or not), papers get shuffled and then folks are thanked for their input and no real conversation takes place?

In part one of a two-part special on citizen engagement with public bodies like school boards and city councils, Dan and Luke try to understand and de-mystify school board meetings with the help of parents and school board members. It turns out that there are some things that can increase both citizen access and the amount of conversation. We just have to be willing to drop the makeup and masks. [emphasis added]
The second one aired this past Thursday, July 14 (you can listen here) and is about public comment periods at places like city council meetings:
If you've ever testified before some kind of elected body, you may know that sometimes all you get back is a perfunctory thanks for being there. And then nothing. In part two of a two-part special on citizen engagement with public bodies like school boards and city councils, Dan and Luke solicit help from elected officials and a renowned policy guy to try to figure out what's going on in the public comment period of these meetings. Ultimately there are ways to improve engagement with boards and councils, and to make them more like satisfying conversations. [emphasis added]
The renowned policy guy is John Green, a fantastic authority who has been involved in many forums and, full disclosure, has included me in a couple over the years (once long before I was in elected office, and again last fall). As Civic Commons writes:
Guest John Green (Director, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at Akron U) points out that traditional meeting structures are the product of 19th Century rural life, when rotating citizens rather than professionals debated simple choices with constituents. So what now?
I look forward to listening to these and if you listen, I hope you'll comment below about what you thought.

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