© 2010

School Boards in America

A Flawed Exercise in Democracy

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 1-11
  3. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 31-46
  4. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 47-63
  5. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 65-77
  6. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 79-94
  7. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 95-107
  8. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 109-123
  9. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 125-135
  10. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 151-166
  11. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 167-185
  12. Gene I. Maeroff
    Pages 187-199
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 201-229

About this book


School boards spend almost $500 billion in taxpayer-provided funds, they employ more than 6 million people, offering pensions and lifetime health benefits that have helped build the obligation that has put state governments in fiscal peril. This book lifts the veil of obscurity from school boards and makes readers think about the issues.


democracy health school

About the authors

GENE I. MAEROFF Senior Fellow at the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA, where he was the founding director. He is also a former national education correspondent for the New York Times. He is the author of over a dozen books including The Guide to Suburban Public Schools, Team Building for School Change, School Smart Parent, Altered Destinies, and A Classroom of One.

Bibliographic information


"As the nation engages in the critical struggle to improve its schools, the local school board remains a neglected institution.Board members, however, remain critically important.This immensely readable volume by a school board member sheds much needed light on both the strengths and weaknesses of this uniquely American institution." - Jim Hunt, Governor of North Carolina (1977-1985, 1993-2001)

"Maeroff brings light and wisdom to understanding why school boards, a uniquely American institution, are both loved and hated; and what we can do to help them improve the education of our children." - Christopher T. Cross, former Assistant Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education and Chairman, Cross & Joftus, LLC

"A vitally important, cogently written analysis by an extremely knowledgeable author who is currently living his subject as a school board president (an all too rare reality among contemporary education policy experts )." - Michael D. Usdan, Senior Fellow, The Institute for Educational Leadership

"Gene Maeroff spins the reader through a whirlwind of education-reform debates, from accountability to teacher quality to funding - all through the eyes of the local school board. He provides case-study examples of successful school boards (like that of Denver Public Schools) and those that have been far less so (like that of Clayton County, GA) as well as scores of interesting data points. . . . In the end, though Maeroff acknowledges inherent and systemic flaws in school boards, he offers up reasonably mundane suggestions for righting them - including having appointed and not elected boards, and increasing professional development - leaving us still searching for the most viable governance arrangement for our schools." -Daniela Fairchild, Associate Editor and Policy Analyst, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, from The Education Gadfly