Regarding education, it is true that state and national-level oversight is essential, as it guarantees that students all over the country are achieving the same goalposts, which allows broader mobility in their professional lives. However, as noted by the Texas Association of School Boards, “while some education policy issues are best addressed at the state level, others are far better addressed by your local community.” This is why having the influence of a school board is essential when it comes to the growth and development of local schools.
Along with district leaders and educators, school board members can valuably weigh in on debates about adopting goals and priorities, monitoring success, adopting policies, hiring and evaluating superintendents, setting budgets and tax rates and more.
One of the most critical debates school boards can partake in is regarding curriculum and instruction. “School boards play an important role in curriculum adoption and ensuring teachers and students have the resources they need,” notes Denise Rawding for EdReports. “A critical responsibility of a local school board is to approve curriculum that will be implemented across a school district…While district leaders and educators should lead decisions about instructional materials, school boards can be involved from the beginning rather than waiting until the end of the process.”
Rawding points out that while the board commonly hears about these decisions following approval, it can play a pivotal role in aligning the district’s instructional vision with that of the individual schools. After all, the board can and should ensure the representation of the community’s shared values and ethics in the curricula’s materials. Arkansas State University’s Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director online program equips graduates with the necessary skills to pursue district leadership careers and make an impact in these conversations.
Collaborating to Benefit Students
There are a number of elements to collaboration among school boards, educators and students. After identifying priorities and goals, members of the school board can also collaborate with educators on a plan for the rollout of a new curriculum. This can range from expectations regarding the integration of physical materials (books, apps and other forms of technology) to speed of transition between curricula. Throughout this process, the board should assess if it is meeting students’ needs, supporting diverse learners and preparing pupils for a college or career track. In sum, the school board ensures everything is up to its ideal standards.
In that regard, the board also has a responsibility to check accountability. The Washington State School Directors Association states, “School boards monitor district activities to ensure that annual progress is being made, achievement gaps are closing, and the public is kept informed about student progress…School improvement requires community will and support for improvement, which comes from effective linkages.”
This expectation shouldn’t be intimidating to educators and principals, but rather, a conversation and mutual evaluation. Periodically checking in to see what is and isn’t working should be on any teacher’s to-do list — and all notes can be brought to the educational leaders in their discussions with the board.
In this debate, it is crucial for teachers to bring their unique perspectives from inside the classrooms and to suggest creative and innovative solutions that modernize the school’s curriculum. In an online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Curriculum Director program, such as that offered by Arkansas State University, professionals will learn about contemporary classroom practices and acquire other tools to understand the elements involved in building and assessing curricula. Graduates with these in-demand skills will be equipped to lead students in the classroom and influence their communities on a school board.