Sunday, February 22, 2015

When Dissent Leads to Association Rebellion


Dissent is good and dangerous.
I’ve watched as board members and/or chapters – frustrated with the parent group – lash out and/or pull out when they don’t get their way from the parent organization.

Such abuse of power often splits the organization. Sometimes this form of dissent is a power grab. During such dissent, I often wonder who is looking out for members.

A recent news story on the dissent within the Florida School Board Association made me think about this issue among other organizations.

In a story headlined 'Grassroots' Florida school board association founded, we learned that “the Florida Coalition of School Board (FCSB) members seeks to become a "financially responsible," grassroots group that supports school choice options including charter school and local control of education issues.”


  • "The FSBA is the Florida chapter of the National School Boards Association. Founded in 1930, the FSBA represented 67 of the state's 76 school districts as of 2014.
  • "Coalition founder Shawn Frost, who was elected to his post in November, said the new coalition also opposes the FSBA's lawsuit that seeks to end the state's Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which helps economically disadvantaged families get scholarships from non-profit organizations.
  • "He said FSBA annual membership dues — which amounted to $21,766 in Lee County — should not be used for the lawsuit that is only supported "by a small number of people." Coalition founder Bridget Ziegler added that the coalition would "rather see that $15,000 or $20,000 go the classroom."
  • "Wayne Blanton, FSBA's executive director, said he understood the coalition formed to put pressure on the lawsuit, but that an overwhelming majority of the group supports it. He thought the coalition may be missing the bigger picture when it comes to FSBA's resources and services."
This type of dissent pressures the parent and its staff. When the dissent become public, it creates image issues for both the parent and the dissenting group.
The tough question is how do the parent and dissenting parties resolve the issues before it becomes public?
  • Has the parent organization been transparent about the issue?
  • Does the parent organization provide adequate engagement and involvement for the dissenting parties?
  • Do the dissenters feel adequately represented in the discussion and decision?
Have you experienced these organizational issues? What solutions can you provide?

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