Is it Time to Rethink State Boards of Education and Departments of Education?

New York State Education  Building in Albany, NY Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)
New York State Education Building in Albany, NY
Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Some political officials (Governor Sandoval of Nevada) and self-described policy wonks (Fordham Institute staff) are calling into question the usefulness of locally elected local school boards.  Governor Sandoval suggested replacing them with governor-appointed boards,  while Fordham has argued for regional authorities, possibly appointed by governors and/or legislature.  The question is ripe for discussion and debate.

In turn, we also need to examine whether we still need state boards of education, state departments of education, and the office of state superintendent/commissioner of education, given the rising anger of parents and teachers across the country over the poorly composed Common Core standards and costly tests based on them that governor-appointed boards and appointed or elected commissioners/superintendents have imposed on local school districts.

How responsive to parents would a regional education board be, compared to current boards and departments of education?  So far, there is no record of even one state board or department of education holding a meeting to listen to parents’ or teachers’ grievances about the Common Core standards and tests being imposed on their schools.  Is there any evidence that a regional education board would have spared parents and teachers the chaos and costs that current state departments of education have inflicted on the schools and the taxpayers in their state?

Not all parents behave responsibly in preparing their children for the discipline of a classroom and make sure they go to bed at the right time, sleep in their own bed every night, actually go to school every day, and do their homework.  Would an appointed regional authority be able to address these issues better than a locally elected school board?

Perhaps it’s time to rethink some quaint 19th century institutions developed with good intentions but which have outrun their usefulness. Even though there are irresponsible parents, are most parents a better judge of the kind of education they want for their children than the US Department of Education?  Let’s vote on it, state by state.  Should we eliminate locally elected school boards or state boards and departments of education?

If the majority of voters want to eliminate locally elected school boards, and, instead, want the USDE and regional boards appointed by governors to make decisions on curriculum and instruction at the local level, what should be the qualifications for such appointments? Perhaps we need public policies to address the problem parents first. This might be cheaper and easier than implementing Common Core’s standards and tests.

3 thoughts on “Is it Time to Rethink State Boards of Education and Departments of Education?

  1. Of course, those who want to take the wrecking ball to local control could care less about parental involvement. The whole program is to create a national education policy that’s serviced by large corporations for big profits to produce generations of (barely) functionally literate young adults.

    But having served on a school board, and being very involved with the fight against CCSS, I think the public has a take its share of the blame too. Parents don’t attend school board meetings, expecting the system to take care of their children. That is, until a problem brings them to the board in a full lather and blasting everyone in sight. Parents ask too few questions and demand too little of their boards when it comes to defining a curriculum and setting standards.

    The boards themselves are too weak, constantly acting as a rubber stamp for superintendents who often just push what is coming from the state and federal departments of education. Superintendents are give far too much credit for having an expertise in education that simply doesn’t exist. Often board members don’t understand the difference between their function and the superintendent’s function. The result is that boards and the public are pressured and bamboozled into doing whatever the state and feds want.

    So, fixing this problem will take much more than simply winning a referendum on keeping “local control”. Much local control is really a sham, in which the inane ideas that hatch in the think tanks and education schools are sold (increasingly by corporate lobbyists) to state and federal officials, who then pass the “word” down to the superintendents at conferences. The superintendents then just sell their junk to the boards.

    We need a public that not only demands local control but is serious about taking control.

    1. Local control is essential to protect your children from hidden sgendas that swarm behindvthevscenesvin forced schooling–Debralosed state and federal political officescarevespecially susceptible to buying into these snti-American sgendas which issue from the United Nations and such corporste bigshots as Bill gates whose
      Forced vaccination/sterilization program should have been denounced loudly by any decent
      Man and eoman in America–instead of leading to such abominations as the Kansas curriculum that tsught snal intercourse as a birth control measure,thstcwasvmybfsult Shawnee,Kansas this year if you care to check.Why does no media or school person report that David Coleman,author of commonCore is a member of two fsmous secret societies
      Committed to the end of nationsl(and American sovereignty)in preparation for global government– the Cecil Rhodes group and the notorious Skull and Bones secretcsociety at Yale?

  2. I appreciate Stotsky and Milgram not signing on the dotted line, rather report on the dotted line of the Common Core State Standards, but suggesting that local elections for what ever council, committee or board would only cede more authority to the ruling elite. Possibly parents will wake up when the CCSS’s “content and culture free” standards are aligned with the US Parnership Sustainability Standards and the Cloud Institute’s Systems-centered indicators. Every state in the Union has adopted the North American Associaion for Environmental Education agenda, Oregon proving to be a fine example passing the No Child Left Inside Act resulting in the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan which has aligned with the Common Core. The Plan and the CCSS were adopted in Oregon in the same month and year, October 2010.
    The National School Board Association tethers the local boards. Oregon Education Investment Board overides the OR State School Board Association. The Oregon governor appoints members of the Workforce Quality Council and the State School Superintendent. What Sandra is suggesting is already reality and our students rank approximately 46th in the nation.

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