Report: School Boards Play Important Role, Face Challenges

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, May 17, 2012

While well-known officials such as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan may get a lot of national press, smaller, sometimes overlooked groups also have a huge impact on American education.

Local school boards critically shape the quality of district-wide public education, according to the "School Board Case Studies" report released yesterday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its two nonprofit affiliates, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce and the National Chamber Foundation.

"Local school boards hire district leadership, oversee school budgets, negotiate collective bargaining agreements or memoranda of understanding with teachers unions, and set policies on a wide range of issues," the report states.

The Chamber of Commerce report includes case studies on school boards in 13 cities across the country, which, collectively, are meant to reflect an accurate vision of American school districts as a whole. District circumstances range from population growth in Bismarck, N.D., to economic decay in Dayton, Ohio; from school board success in Long Beach, Calif., to dysfunction that led to a new, mayor-appointed organization and CEO to replace the Detroit school board in 1999.

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