Monday, February 22, 2021

Are your school boards representative of the districts' families and children? Probably not, this research shows

"Most Americans would agree that public education should serve the educational needs of students. But to what extent does our current governance model—more than 13,000 school-district boards primarily elected by local voters—actually help us realize this goal?" Vladimir Kohan, St├ęphane Lavertu, and Zachary Peskowitz, all three policy or political science professors, report for the Brookings Institution

According to their research in four states—California, Illinois, Ohio, and Oklahoma—voters often look very different from local student bodies. For example, most majority-nonwhite student bodies are governed by school boards elected by majority-white electorate. Most people who voted on school board members don't even have children themselves, they found. Though state reform laws might help, local school-board reform might be better, they suggest.

How does your local school board measure up? How might a disparity between the school board's makeup and the local community affect the decision whether to reopen schools during the pandemic? As a recent news story noted, in California (and likely elsewhere) rural schools are more likely to reopen than their suburban and urban counterparts.

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