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JLeslie's avatar

How does your school system work?

Asked by JLeslie (56610points) February 2nd, 2011

What I am specifically curious about is if the board is elected or appointed? Who makes the decisions about how the schools are run? What city you live in (feel free to answer about other systems if you know about them).

Here in the Memphis area the city of Memphis will be voting to surrender their charter to the county. People are freaking out. Part of the problem is Memphis will then have a large say/vote on who will be on the board of Shelby county, which no one has confidence in. Even people in Memphis admit too many clueless people are voted in for the wrong reasons.

But, it seems to me some cities appoint board members? And, I have seen Mayor Bloomberg of NYC talk about education in the city, and it appears he has a lot of control over the school system there.

So, I am just trying to understand the varying ways schools are run, and which way you feel is most effective.

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6 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

We elect ours but the province has final say, really. If a board is misbehaving then the province will (and has) fired people.

That being said: anyone who runs for the school board is a pretty good shoe-in as hardly anyone researches the candidates.

I haven’t voted for the lady who is our representative as she completely stonewalled me when my son was being pounded into oblivion every day at school and I had a principal who used to yell at me when I insisted he deal with the bullying problem. I came to the conclusion that the schools are like mini-dictatorships. Hopefully you get a good dictator and heaven help you if you get a bad one.

wundayatta's avatar

There’s the School Reform Commission that was set up more than a decade ago when the State took over city schools. The School Reform Commission oversees the budget to make sure the district doesn’t go bankrupt. They also approve the appointment of the Superintendent of Schools, who is responsible for the day to day operations of the district.

Before the SRC, I believe the mayor could appoint the Superintendent of his own volition, without being subject to anyone’s approval. Don’t quote me on that. I don’t know if the SRC has done any good, except that it allows the district to borrow more money.

bkcunningham's avatar

@JLeslie would you mind asking responders to list their location.I know the question is in social, but I think it is important. At least the state if they are in the US. I liked your question and am curious to see what people say. I’m familiar with the Memphis case and I’m following your question. Thanks, bk

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I did at the top. First paragraph. I assume @tranquilsea is in Canada since he used province, and @wundayatta is in NY.

Ron_C's avatar

Ours is a relatively small school district. The whole area has only about 1000 high school, middle school, and elementary students. We elect out school board and call them when things go wrong of if we just want information. Our state also has “sunshine laws” that demand that all meetings, except for personnel issues, are public. The best you can do is watch over the school board and make sure that they don’t get carried away by their power and duty. We do much better that the district in Columbia Maryland where my grandchildren go to school. The do have my daughter watching them and she is capable of raising an army to give them holy hell when the board goes off the deep end,

The point is that any board must be watched, especially by the parents of the students.

By the way, the reason that the mayor of New York has so much say is that the previous system deteriorated into a crony system that abused and wasted taxpayer money.

perspicacious's avatar

Our board members are appointed by the city council. I live in Mountain Brook, AL. Our schools are blue ribbon schools and receive lots of awards. 98% of our kids go on to college and 1% goes into the military. Of course we pay huge property taxes to support the schools. Our schools do not accept any Federal money either. The thing that usually sets schools systems apart from each other is parental involvement. That’s paramount and ii present in a big way here where I live. Money is a factor, but not the most important one. In systems that serve a large range of socioeconomic families, there are always more problems.

As to your question about appointment/elected—the city council has a real interest in the school system being successful. It’s about who is capable, not who is popular. I’m very satisfied with that system. The council members are elected so that is where the public has input.

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