Local school boards have guided American public education for well over a century. Electing school board members to govern local schools embodies U.S commitment to democracy and the nation's desire to have some influence over the education of children who reside here. While these values still resonate with the American public, changes in society and the way schools are governed have stripped these institutions of much of their power. Instead of deciding fundamental policy issues, these institutions are now left to implement the priorities and polices of the state and the federal government.

The reasons for the diminished role school boards now play reveal much about the legitimacy of the institution as a means of democratic participation and about its ability to address issues of concern ...

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