Americans support local control of their schools and school board governance, according to a new study by researchers at Michigan State University.
Analyzing data from Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa polls and existing research, the study’s authors found that local school governance is seen as critical to the day-to-day operations of schools. It notes that the public believes federal, state and local governments should be involved in education, and that the public favors decisions related to equitable funding and standards across all schools to be made by federal and state officials.
“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,” Assistant Professor of Education Rebecca Jacobsen said in a press release. “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.”
Jacobsen concluded that the findings are important particularly given the recent efforts put into dismantling local control in favor of a greater federal presence.
“Some argue that local school 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.”
The analysis was published in Public Opinion Quarterly.