School Boards

Why School Board Diversity Matters


Most school boards don’t look like the students they serve, but new research suggests that must change.

The racial and ethnic makeup of school boards rarely matches that of the students in the schools they are responsible for. Yet a growing body of research suggests having more diverse school boards can make concrete differences in how schools operate.

Some studies suggest, in fact, that having just one minority member on a board increases a school district’s financial investment in high-minority schools, and even some measures of student achievement and student climate.

But at a time when the student population

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School Board Elections Don’t Get Much Attention. They Should

Even during a month when elections dominate the news, local school board elections get too little attention. While not all members of the nation’s 14,000 school boards are selected by voters in partisan or nonpartisan elections, most are. And these elections arguably embody democracy at its most grassroots level.

While they may not attract widespread media attention, school boards play a critical role in steering the progress of the nation’s schools. They choose curricula, set school-year calendars, and negotiate employee labor contracts. They hire, fire, and evaluate school superintendents and approve their goals and policies.

The more collaborative and productive

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Getting New School Board Members Up to Speed


One way to train newly elected school board members for the job ahead is to start before they even run for office.

When Julie Cole decided to run for school board, she did her homework.

For a year, Cole attended every Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Tex., school board meeting—and reviewed meeting agendas beforehand. During meetings, she sat near district administrators so she could lean over and ask questions about discussions and proposals she had trouble understanding.

“I just made it my mission to learn everything that I could learn,” said Cole, who is now the school board president for the 24,000-student north

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Building Better School Boards: 3 Strategies for District Leaders


Districts with strong, respectful, productive relationships between superintendents and school boards will handle new challenges well. Here are strategies for getting there.

There are few things more American than the local school board. But as anyone who sits on a school board—or is answerable to one—can attest, democracy at its smallest level tends to be a lot messier than even a gooey slice of Mom’s apple pie.

School boards are in charge of choosing curricula, managing schedules, and negotiating employee labor contracts. They have also become the translators and interpreters of mounting state and federal schooling requirements. And they

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Educators Prefer Governors With a More Cautious Approach to COVID-19

Educators prefer governors who are taking a more-measured, cautious approach to managing schools during the pandemic. That’s the big takeaway from a recent survey by the EdWeek Research Center.

The survey—conducted Oct. 28 and 29 with 1,630 teachers, principals, and school district leaders—also found that educators’ highly negative views about how President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos have reacted to coronavirus challenges for K-12 schools have remained roughly the same since the summer.

Closer to home, school board members and superintendents generally earn more positive ratings than state or federal officials for their leadership around challenges

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School Board Elections Are Often Overlooked. They Shouldn’t Be


—iStock/Getty Images

Don’t forget to vote for your school board


Charlie Wilson

While much of the media attention during this election cycle has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and race relations, keep in mind that all three issues affect education. The combined crises we’re experiencing and the drastically different approaches taken by our political parties serve as a reminder that leadership matters and that your vote can shape every aspect of our children’s educational journeys.

Our civic duty should be exercised more than just every four years when the presidency hangs in the balance. There

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How the Fight for America’s Suburbs Started in Public Schools

—Jeffrey Smith for Education Week

A heated school board election in the fast-changing Atlanta suburbs pits Black Lives Matter vs. the ‘Suburban Lifestyle Dream’

Gwinnett County, Ga.

Tarece Johnson was starting to doubt herself. In March, just hours before the filing deadline, she’d declared her candidacy for the school board in suburban Gwinnett County, Ga. A month later, she still couldn’t afford a $4,000 mailer to introduce herself to voters. By early May, the lone debate of the primary season loomed.

“It was horrible,” she said. “I was not in a good space.”

Johnson is Black and Jewish. A decade

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When School Boards Diversify, Spending Priorities Shift. Here’s How – District Dossier

The connection between school boards and student academic growth has long been a black box. It’s difficult for researchers to tease out the impact of a board policy to a particular outcome, considering all the factors that interact to affect a student’s experience in school.  

But a new working paper offers a peek inside the box. It examines one element of school boards—their ethnic makeup—and how that affects spending decisions and  potentially student achievement.

Brett Fischer, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Virginia, examined school boards in California and their patterns of spending on a particular pot

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‘Impossible’: School boards are at heart of reopening debate

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Helena Miller listened to teachers, terrified to reenter classrooms, and parents, exhausted from trying to make virtual learning work at home. She heard from school officials who spent hundreds of hours on thousands of details — buses, classrooms, football, arts, special education. She spent countless nights, eyes wide open, her mind wrestling over the safety and education of the 17,000 children she swore to protect.

She thought of her own kids, two in high school and one middle-schooler — the reasons she ran for Rock Hill’s school board six years ago.

And she made the

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