Do School Boards Really Matter?

In yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution, Maureen Downey asks this question in the context of a research study of  “two decades of literature on the role and effectiveness of school boards” and as preface to a report coming out next month from the Fordham Foundation.

The research study found that ““School board organizations, experts, and members have identified characteristics that they consider essential for effective governance; little data, however, exists to substantiate that these characteristics are indeed essential for students’ academic achievement.”
Chester Finn, president of the Fordham Foundation counters, “It does seem that some characteristics of school board members at least mildly correlate with academic performance. The districts where board members put a very high priority on academic achievement — versus bus schedules, budgets, contracts, textbooks and other things — seem to get more of it.”