At Least 14 State Boards Elevate Teachers’ Voices in State Education Policymaking
Alexandria, VA – Policy decisions affect teachers deeply, yet the conversations that shape those policies lack adequate teacher representation. According to a new NASBE analysis, a growing number of state boards of education are involving teachers in policymaking decisions. Fourteen states now require a teacher member to serve on their state board of education. Other states engage teachers in policymaking through advisory committees and specialized focus groups.
The policy update outlines the advantages to having a current teacher at the state board table, not the least of which is that it allows for varying perspectives from those directly impacted by enacted policies, creates more buy-in, and leads to valid, inclusive, and holistic decision-making.
Teachers serve on state boards of education in various ways. Arizona, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming require a teacher to serve as a voting member. Eight states require a non-voting teacher member or a teacher who attends and reports at every board meeting. In line with state statute, teachers come to the board either by appointment from the governor, by virtue of being named state teacher of the year, or through statewide election. Three states do not allow a current teacher member on the board.
“As the coronavirus pandemic rages into a new school year, the need persists for teacher voice at all levels, specifically in state governance,” writes author and sixth-grade teacher Jordan Koch. “Whether it is through a voting member, nonvoting member, or teacher advisory committee, direct educators voice is critical in state board decision making, both now and after the pandemic subsides.”
“Having an actively serving teacher as an ex-officio member of the state board has been invaluable to us as a team,” says Kentucky State Board of Education Chair Lu Young. “When we consider decisions that impact the lives and working conditions of our public educators, Allison [Slone], is there to remind us that those decisions have very real consequences. Her single voice amplifies the voices of tens of thousands of teachers in the field and her perspective makes us better.”
Read and share “Involving Teachers in State Education Governance.”
NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.