Volume 25, Number 5
Secrets of High-Functioning School Boards
Practices, not structure, are the key to supporting student achievement
The next time you read about a major new school reform initiative in a district, look hard for a mention of the local school board. Chances are you’ll find little to no information on what role the board played in championing the initiative, selling it to doubting members of the public, or making the difficult budgetary decisions to make it possible in the first place.This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.
Chances are when you do read something about a local school board, it won’t be complimentary. School boards—made up of citizen-taxpayers tapped to govern local public schools—are routinely blamed for problems from passively accepting the status quo to aggressively putting personal agendas above sustained, strategic plans for systemic improvement.
Proposed solutions for these governance problems, however, usually center on changing the structure of the board or the means by which members are chosen: Boards, it is often suggested, would operate better if members were elected districtwide, or for longer terms or staggered terms, or if they were simply appointed instead of elected.