Local school boards in the United States spend almost $600 billion of the public’s money and employ millions of Americans. They have a prime role, along with the home, in shaping the future for the country’s young. Yet the more than 14,000 boards of education are obscure and most people have not the vaguest notion of how they operate and what impact they have. School Boards in America aims to provide a wide audience – educators and college students, board members, policymakers, parents and other taxpayers, and just about anyone interested in public affairs – with an inside view that will forever affect the ways in which they look at public schools and how they are governed. [Learn More]
From the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Gene Maeroff discusses the role of the school board in the 21st century. Gene's comments begin at minute 13.
Q. Why did you write this book?
Maeroff: I was considering running for a seat on my local school board and this possibility got me thinking about school boards to a greater extent than ever before—even though I’ve written about many aspects of education for decades.
Q. Who do you think should read School Boards in America?
Maeroff: Parents should read it because school boards have so much to do with the well being of their children. Educators should read it because they are directly affected by the work of school boards. Undergraduate and graduate students in education should read it because it deals with so many topics into which they might delve. Policymakers at all levels should read it because schools figure in so many decisions that government makes. Anyone who follows public affairs should read it because it is bound to interest them.
Q. What are some of the most important points that the book makes?
Maeroff: To mention just a few . . . school board members may be ill-equipped to make decisions affecting instruction; wide disparities in the tax bases of school districts greatly affect the ability of school boards to provide quality education; the role of school boards as jobs machine gets overlooked; school boards find it difficult to deal with teacher unions as equals; special education mandates may be so expensive that they diminish resources for general education; and for all their flaws, school boards may nonetheless be the best way to govern public education.
Q. You have been president of your local school board. What impact has that had on your writing of the book?
Maeroff: I could never have fully appreciated the role of school boards and, especially, the responsibilities of the president without having been on a school board. It provided me with insights and experiences that informed and enriched the book.
Note: You can purchase Schools Boards in America online though Amazon.com.