In this month’s episode of NEPC Talks Education, UW–Madison’s Christopher Saldaña discusses the role of school boards in K-12 educational policymaking with Carrie Sampson, a professor of educational leadership and innovation at Arizona State University.
Saldaña, an assistant professor in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, is the host of this monthly podcast from the National Education Policy Center.
Local school boards serve as the primary connection between communities and their K-12 schools. They set policy and are responsible for, among other things, school personnel, curriculum, and capital expenditures.
In the episode, Sampson describes how the relationship between local school boards, state governments, and the federal government has changed over time. She notes, for example, that state legislatures and federal and state courts required school boards to desegregate schools. More recently some governors and state legislatures have prohibited some school curricula and educational practices designed to benefit historically marginalized youth.
Sampson recommends that while stakeholders should generally support their school boards they should also push for greater representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) on school boards. She argues that BIPOC school board members are uniquely positioned to speak to the day-to-day challenges posed by racism in schools. Sampson also encourages school board members and stakeholders interested in educational equity and justice to think proactively about organizing to protect school boards from state-level policies that could potentially harm students.
Listen to the episode here.