Opinion
School & District Management Letter to the Editor

N.Y. Association Defends Role of Elected School Boards

September 23, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In a recent Commentary, Chester E. Finn Jr. states that local control of schools needs to be reinvented. That’s shorthand for saying school boards have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced with something else. The New York State School Boards Association couldn’t disagree more.

A democratically elected board of education with decisionmaking authority, working in cooperation with community leaders and parents, provides stronger leadership than any of the models Mr. Finn identifies, such as mayoral control. Here are a few reasons why:

• Children need a strong and independent champion. School board elections minimize the specter of undue political influence, patronage, or reduction of education’s standing in a broad range of municipal fiscal priorities.

• School board elections encourage individuals throughout the community with diverse backgrounds and experiences to seek office. Candidates with opposing viewpoints promote extensive public discussion and give voters a clear choice.

• Local school boards make decisions about the nature and scope of student programs that represent local community interests. They are the local link between a community and its school system, responsible for assuring parents and taxpayers that they are being represented when decisions are made.

The National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education found that there is no consensus among researchers about whether mayoral-controlled school districts improve student achievement.

Mayors have found it easier to clean up district-level finances and change management practices than improve student achievement. School boards appointed by mayors—rather than those elected by a community—shift from conduits for public information and can become political operations that are elite, homogeneous, and distant. As a result, the forum for representing a community’s interest in its public education system is often lost.

Timothy G. Kremer

Executive Director

New York State School Boards Association

Latham, N.Y.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as N.Y. Association Defends Role Of Elected School Boards

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Photos Six Years After Parkland Tragedy, Crews Demolish a Painful Reminder
The school building in Florida where a gunman killed 17 people is being pulled down. Victims' families have toured the site with lawmakers to push for change.
4 min read
Students, teachers, victims' families and passersby watch, Friday, June 14, 2024, as crews start the demolition of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Officials plan to complete the weeks-long project before the school's 3,300 students return in August from summer vacation.
Students, teachers, and victims' families are among those watching on June 14, 2024, as crews start the demolition of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting. Officials plan to complete the weeks-long project before students return from summer vacation.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
School & District Management Download 'Science of Reading' Learning Walks: 4 Things for Principals to Look For
An instructional guide for school leaders to help implement shifts in reading practices.
1 min read
Photograph of a Black male teacher in the classroom with clipboard observing elementary students.
E+
School & District Management Opinion 4 Things School Leaders Should Do Before Setting Priorities
Sweeping language doesn't offer a road map for the school community. Here's why.
Peter DeWitt & Michael Nelson
4 min read
Screenshot 2024 06 12 at 7.16.56 AM
Canva
School & District Management As Districts Weigh 4-Day Weeks, Research Overlooks Their Most Pressing Questions
A new, searchable dashboard will help district leaders explore research on four-day school weeks.
4 min read
Illustration of people around a very large flip calendar with Mon-Thursday highlighted in red squares. The concept of task planning. People are engaged in planning a calendar schedule.
iStock/Getty