“The local school board, especially the elected kind, is an anachronism and an outrage. We can no longer pretend it’s working well or hide behind the mantra of ‘local control of education.’
Chester Finn and Amber Winkler, Thomas Fordham Institute
Most of you who know me, I hope, would agree that I am a fair person not quick to anger or hatred. I am always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. But when someone sent me Chester Finn and Amber Winkler’s article The Anachronism of School Boards, it made me angry. Chester Finn is a noted scholar and author, but in this case I find his logic not only flawed and a bit foolish, but actually dangerous. Dangerous because it is becoming part of the education reform agenda.
It’s also dangerous because some state political leaders may think that this concept has some merit. In fact the NY Times recently reported that Gov. Chris Christie has hinted he would like to change the system of school boards in New Jersey. (Although, to be fair, we have no idea what changes the governor favors, let alone if he agrees with Finn and Winkler.)
Mr. Finn and Ms. Winkler are upset that a recent survey of school board members nationwide found that members were lukewarm to many of the education reforms being espoused today. They also found that board members regarded their role more as policy makers and less as reformers. They are also concerned that many board members come from the education field itself and so they are not inclined to take the tough stance against the education establishment that needs to be taken. This last criticism is one that I have heard before.
Their logic, as far as I can determine, goes like this: (more…)