Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Boards of Education
Peter J. Cistone
Lay governance of public education through local boards of education is a distinctly American invention. It has evolved from its roots in colonial New England and the common school movement of the mid-nineteenth century to become the most characteristic feature of contemporary school governance. Today there are roughly 15,000 local boards of education in the United States. (The board of education may be variously designated as the school board, the board of trustees, the school committee, the school commissioners, the school directors, the school trustees, or the school inspectors.) The principle that education is a state function and a local responsibility was first enunciated in the Act of Massachusetts General Court in 1647 and ultimately spread throughout the nation. The act required all towns of a certain size to establish and maintain schools and placed the responsibility for compliance in the hands of local citizens. School matters were initially decided ...