Case studies of 13 school boards and their interactions with their local business communities are the backbone of areleased last week by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the National Chamber Foundation, two affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The publication is intended to encourage local business leaders to be “more sustained and active players in local school governance,” said Margaret Spellings, the president of the chamber’s Forum for Policy Innovation and a former U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush. In a telephone briefing, she said the report gives an idea of common factors that exist in smoothly operating districts.
The districts profiled were picked for their geographic and socioeconomic diversity, said the report’s author, Andrew J. Rotherham, a co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, a consulting firm in Washington.
The report does not call for either elected or appointed school boards, saying each model has positive and negative points. “Structural arrangements are not a guarantee of success,” said Mr. Rotherham, who served as a White House education aide in the Clinton administration.
One district profiled is Austin, Texas, where the local chamber of commerce worked with the school district to help develop a performance-based teacher-pay program. The group also supported a tax hike after the school board committed to performance-driven, end-of-year targets as a part of its performance plan.
From the perspective of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, such examples show how the business community can serve as a “critical friend” to a local school board. Some other districts profiled in the report include Atlanta; Bismarck, N.D.; Laramie, Wyo.; Detroit; and Dayton, Ohio.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2012 edition of Education Week as Interactions Urged For Schools, Business