Education Vital Signs: School Governance

The school board sets policy. The superintendent and his or her administrators carry out those policies and deal with the day-to-day issues of running a school system. Clear enough in abstract, perhaps, but if you’ve ever served a school district in either of these broad capacities, you know it is not that simple in the real life of a school district. The line between policy issues and issues of implementation have a way of blurring as the jobs of school board and administrators become more complicated. Fortunately, there is a wealth of research into what makes effective governance. NSBA’s Key Work of School Board is one example. Organizational theory is changing the way boards operate. For example, the old idea of a massive five-year plan is now all but obsolete, according to Governance consultant and ASBJ columnist Doug Eadie. In it’s place are more manageable – and specific – “change strategies” that identify issues in the district, prioritize them, and then take them on.

Below are some of the latest studies on effective governance:

Don’t Count Us Out
Don’t Count Us Out, a new study from Public Agenda, reveals that, in the minds of the public, more information does not equal more trust. Results indicate that a media blitz of glossily presented facts and figures might actually make the public more distrustful. The study found that responsiveness of an organization can be more valuable than benchmarks. To the public, being able to find someone in an organization who listens respectfully to their ideas is an important dimension of accountability—perhaps the most important one.
September 2011

Schools Need Good Leaders Now: State Progress in Creating a Learning-Centered School Leadership System
The cutting-edge principal needed in today’s school “is not your father’s principal,” asserts  Schools Need Good Leaders Now: State Progress in Creating a Learning-Centered School Leadership System. The Southern Regional Education Board report calls for a new generation of school leaders who put curriculum and instruction first. It examines states’ progress in developing school leaders who look beyond traditional administrative tasks and focus on improving schools and student learning.