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School Boards in America: A Flawed Exercise in Democracy 2010th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230109315
ISBN-10: 0230109314
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Editorial Reviews


"As the nation engages in the critical struggle to improve its schools, the local school board remains a neglected institution.Board members, however, remain critically important.This immensely readable volume by a school board member sheds much needed light on both the strengths and weaknesses of this uniquely American institution." - Jim Hunt, Governor of North Carolina (1977-1985, 1993-2001)

"Maeroff brings light and wisdom to understanding why school boards, a uniquely American institution, are both loved and hated; and what we can do to help them improve the education of our children." - Christopher T. Cross, former Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education and Chairman, Cross & Joftus, LLC

"A vitally important, cogently written analysis by an extremely knowledgeable author who is currently living his subject as a school board president (an all too rare reality among contemporary education policy experts )." - Michael D. Usdan, Senior Fellow, The Institute for Educational Leadership

"Gene Maeroff spins the reader through a whirlwind of education-reform debates, from accountability to teacher quality to funding - all through the eyes of the local school board. He provides case-study examples of successful school boards (like that of Denver Public Schools) and those that have been far less so (like that of Clayton County, GA) as well as scores of interesting data points. . . . In the end, though Maeroff acknowledges inherent and systemic flaws in school boards, he offers up reasonably mundane suggestions for righting them - including having appointed and not elected boards, and increasing professional development - leaving us still searching for the most viable governance arrangement for our schools." -Daniela Fairchild, Associate Editor and Policy Analyst, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, from The Education Gadfly

About the Author

GENE I. MAEROFF Senior Fellow at the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA, where he was the founding director. He is also a former national education correspondent for the New York Times. He is the author of over a dozen books including The Guide to Suburban Public Schools, Team Building for School Change, School Smart Parent, Altered Destinies, and A Classroom of One.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2010 edition (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230109314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230109315
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,169,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Loyd Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 13, 2016
Format: Paperback
The U.S. spends more than nearly every other nation on schools, but ranks average (reading) and below average (math). More of the taxes Americans pay to their states and localities go toward schools and colleges than anything else. Typically, no local body has control over so much money as the school board. Local school boards hold sway over 13,862 separate districts in America. Many other nations have national systems of education. While local school boards are often described as 'bulwarks of democracy' and providing 'more responsive and efficient' services, author Maeroff suspects that they've become as outmoded as the privately owned pharmacy on the corner. (This is becoming more logical with the growth of charters and private schools.) Yet, some are not troubled by the absence of expertise in educational matters among members of school boards.

Maeroff, a former New York Times reporter and founding director of TC's Hechinger Institute for Education and the Media, served on the Edison, New Jersey school board as a member and president. (Edison is New Jersey's 5th largest district.) He believes boards should be appointed (as they are for Arizona charter schools), not elected, and that board members should be provided with more opportunities to develop specific knowledge about education and public schools.

School board members in high-achieving Iowa districts were found to hold to higher standards for students and less likely to accept excuses for low achievement. They were more knowledgeable about teaching and learning issues and could cite specific examples of how goals were attained. High-achieving districts were more apt to use data to monitor student progress.

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Too little attention is paid to the responsibility of school boards for the poor performance of public schools. This book fills that gap. It's clearly written and uses interesting stories from around the country to illustrate important points.
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