OLAC Blog: The Leading Edge - Helping School Leaders Put Research into Practice

Sorry Mark Twain, Rod Paige Was Right

In 1897 Mark Twain wrote “God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

Over 100 years late, in an article in the Atlantic entitled, “First Kill All the School Boards” policy analyst Matt Miller (2008) echoed that same sentiment when he argued that local control and local school boards are the basic cause of poor student performance.  He wrote, “What of school boards? In an ideal world, we would scrap them. Of course, the chances of eliminating school boards anytime soon are nil. But at least we can limit their role.” (p.95).

In contrast, former U.S Secretary of Education and former superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, Rod Paige, spoke these words in 2002, “The effectiveness of school board governance is the single most important determinant of school district success or failure.” In support of that notion, education reform author Don McAdams (2000) wrote, “If school systems improve, it will be because boards make them improve. No one else can.”

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