When it comes to the decisions that most directly affect the business of public education and what happens in classrooms, few people are as influential—and often as unacknowledged—as local school board members.
Indeed, a new report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests the makeup of local school boards can have a measurable effect on student achievement.
The report is part of a joint project between Fordham and the left-leaning Center for American Progress looking at how school governance influences education reform. The findings are based on a 2009 survey of more than 900 school board members in districts across the country. Board members were asked about their level of experience and backgrounds, their awareness of their district’s fiscal picture and top challenges, and their personal political leanings.