Americans support local control of schools

July 17, 2012, Michigan State University
A study led by Michigan State University education scholar Rebecca Jacobsen argues that Americans support local control of education. Credit: Michigan State University

Despite criticism that local school boards are "dinosaurs" that need to be replaced, Americans support local control of their schools, Michigan State University education scholars argue in a new paper.

The public believes that all three levels of government – local, state and federal – should be involved in education policy and that local officials should be in charge of day-to-day operations of the schools, said Rebecca Jacobsen, lead researcher on the project.

Jacobsen, assistant professor of education, and doctoral student Andrew Saultz analyzed some 40 years of public surveys involving education. Their analysis, in Public Opinion Quarterly, comes as federal education initiatives such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have led many policy advocates to focus on federal control of schools.

But Jacobsen said it's a mistake to discount the popularity of local school boards. There are more than 90,000 locally elected school board members serving on nearly 15,000 school boards in the United States.

"A lot of policymakers today think they can just go around the local boards; that the federal government can create a policy that goes directly to the schools or works around the existing institutions," Jacobsen said. "But that's not going to work in the long run, because local control is not dead. People still feel it plays an important role."

When it comes to policy decisions related to equitable funding and standards across all schools, the public favors state and federal government control, Jacobsen said.

"At the national level we want schools to be relatively equitably funded, and we want schools to teach relatively the same topics and make sure kids have access to the same types of curriculum," she said.

But the public also believes local officials should be in charge of "running schools" or "improving schools," the paper found. These findings are particularly powerful, Jacobsen said, given that this preference remains strong even as national policy discussions have criticized local control and taken steps to diminish local decision-making ability through changes.

"Some argue that local governance is a 'dinosaur' that needs to be replaced, but local leaders are going to be the ones implementing these federal policies," Jacobsen said. "So if they're going to have a major hand in how these policies get shaped at the local level, then we better pay attention to their resources, their capabilities, and not just dismiss them."

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4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2012
As long as my child learns about dinosaurs and nothing about creationism. I don't want to waste my child's time on retarded 'alternate views'. Because the view that Mei Ling, the lordess of Saigon whores created man 8 minutes ago is just as likely as creationism.
Bring on the hate trolls.
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 17, 2012
Parents of children in the poorest public schools, managed by Congress, want to control the schools they send their children to with money, aka vouchers.
3 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2012
That's a complex argument. **edit** While the idea seems sound, my wife works in a charter school. compared to regular public schools there are pros and cons. overall it's about the same.
Except kindergarteners get no nap time, play time (other than lunch); no blocks, toy sets etc. all learning from 8am to 4pm with 45 mins for lunch/recess.
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2012
In the news today I read that children in the poorest public schools are making good progress in catching up with their socialist counterparts in other nations, and that children in more affluent schools are continuing to fall behind.

"Parents of children in the poorest public schools..." - Ryggtard

Perhaps this is due to American for profit schools teaching their students that the Loch Ness monster is real, is a dinosaur, and hence proves that dinosaurs and man coexisted on a young earth that is only 7,000 years old.

You get what you pay for. And when you pay for Creationism... that is what you get.
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2012
"Charter schools raise educational standards for vulnerable children"
"That figure is dwarfed by New Orleans. There two-thirds of students are in charters, thanks to an overhaul of the citys disastrous schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Today half of charter schools in the city are improving reading or maths at a significantly faster rate than competing public schools; and across the state as a whole charters are performing better."
3 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2012

Investigating Charter Schools Fraud In Philadelphia


"Charter schools fail to raise educational standards for vulnerable children"
3 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2012
Once-promising charter schools go off course - They're favored by reformers, but have a high rate of failure

Charter Schools Failing In Louisiana

Charter schools fail on promise to outperform public schools
3 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2012
It's Your Money: Some Charter Schools Get Failing Grades

5 / 5 (1) Jul 18, 2012
Why in the hell would you vote me a '1' for explaining what the situation is for my wife. There wasnt any wavering opinion there. That was straight fact for her situation. But whatever, apparently if you don't want to hear it you just click '1'.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
Education reformers consistently make the mistake of thinking-within-the-box when trying to address education reform. The conversations which are happening within the mainstream press are completely inferior to those happening in TEDTalks and YouTube's Google Talks series. The mainstream press has basically dropped any serious critical thinking on this topic, and instead presents the challenge in terms of either-or decisions which are always superficial fixes, and bad choices either way, which fail to actually address the root causes of our problems in education.

If you want to learn where education is truly going, then learn about:

- John Taylor Gatto
- Joseph Novak (concept mapping)
- Eric Mazur (peer instruction)
- Daniel Pink (self-determination theory)
- Developments in creativity research
- Augmented reality


The writing is on the wall -- especially for science education -- but only once you know who to listen to.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
Another suggestion for science education reformers, in particular, is to seek out evidence for mistakes in the textbooks. By following up on against-the-mainstream claims, a person can become fluent in potential mistakes in the textbooks. Over some time at this, patterns will emerge. These patterns are not coincidences. They are the direct result of how we are educating students in science. It's impossible to stress how important this topic is: Our quality of life is a function of the rate of technological innovation. If students are not understanding the concepts of science -- and we know from the force concept inventory test that they are NOT -- then this will ripple all the way through the sciences until it manifests as mistakes in scientific theory. Thus, it is possible, as a researcher, to back-trace from long-standing controversies in theories back to failures to respond to these claims in an appropriate manner, back to a failure to teach science properly.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
The most important advice I can give on education reform is to treat it as an interdisciplinary subject. When reformers permit their focus to narrow to something like testing standards or charter schools, the conclusions are pre-determined by the focus. Keep your breadth very wide, in order to permit the solution to come from an unexpected location ... Because it should and will.

Also, learn the history of education -- both public and higher education. What you will find will surprise you, and you need to know this stuff.

Do not talk about education without a discussion of the purpose of education. Stop treating education as though it is disconnected from life and work. Society has been a planned organism for a very long time now. Your plan cannot shy away from solving those problems. It is the very point of education.

We live in a special time for education reform. A person could become an expert without ever purchasing a book. Check YouTube for education reformers.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
Also, are people even noticing that everybody is debating last century's controversies? When will we stop having this religion vs. science discussion? Don't you see that it displaces other, far more interesting and cutting edge conversations? If you think that this is the most interesting controversy happening in science today, you need to cast your net *much* wider.

The Internet is only as sophisticated a tool as you permit it to be. If you decide to create an information bubble around yourself, and only seek out those things which you already agree with, do not be surprised if your world seems static and unchanging. The information will not come to you. You have to seek it out. It's out there, and it's not always in the newspapers or even the aggregators.

The Internet is a dream-come-true for critical thinkers. But, the more typical response is for people to fear learning something which isn't true, and only listen to the experts. Guess what? Experts are oftentimes wrong.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 20, 2012
Keep your breadth very wide, in order to permit the solution to come from an unexpected location ... Because it should and will.

Never happen when the govt and unions control the schools.
Sweden found a way, vouchers.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2012
The half century old fixation on education vouchers by American Conservatives and Libertrian/Randites is a perpetual amusement to even the semi-intelligent when their steadfast opposition to food vouchers is realized.

Is government support for nutritional vouchers (food stamps) any less important than government support for education vouchers?

The reason for the apparent disconnect in the Conservative brain cell comes from the fact that an unstated part of every Republican Voucher plan includes the privatization of the Public School system.

This is similar to the unstated part of every Republican tax plan which always includes making capital gains (the primary way the wealthy gain their wealth), tax free.

Both are fine examples of the corrupt nature of American Conservatives.
not rated yet Jul 21, 2012
I note that RyggTard still hasn't responded to the examples I provided where private, for profit, schools were caught padding their student enrollment numbers, caught teaching children that dinosaurs exist today, and that the earth is only 7,000 years old, and that a Christian God created the universe, and man, and of course that Evolution is just conjecture.

RyggTard never responds to such things.

Reality simply doesn't politically exist in on his home planet of Libertaria.

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