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What We Stand For: School Governance

Putting Students First: Building Effective School Governance

A White Paper by Christine Campbell for Stand for Children Leadership Center

The vast majority of America’s public-school students attend schools under the control of one of the nation’s roughly 13,500 local school boards. These school boards are responsible for approving district budgets, hiring superintendents, negotiating collective-bargaining agreements with teachers unions, and making numerous other decisions, large and small, that affect children’s education.

Elected boards, however, are increasingly under fire. The significant challenges facing school boards—declining funds, rising employment costs, stagnant performance, and persistent achievement gaps—have directed a new spotlight on governance issues. The first half of this brief takes a close look at the challenges facing elected boards and the range of alternative governance options and the available evidence about their impact. The second half highlights the characteristics of successful school boards and suggests changes to support more-effective school governance, regardless of model.

The rest of this paper is available as a PDF download:


Christine Campbell is a Senior Research Analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

About Stand for Children Leadership Center

Stand for Children Leadership Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides leadership development and training to everyday citizens. Our mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, college and career training. To make that happen, we:

  • Educate and empower parents, teachers, and community members to demand excellent public schools.
  • Advocate for effective local, state and national education policies and investments.

  • Ensure the policies and funding we advocate for reach classrooms and help students.

Make a Difference

Take action to improve your school today.

Why Stand?

A message from Stand Leadership Center board member John Legend.