Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What is a BOE member's job description?

A resident emailed to ask me what is the job description of a Board of Education member. I advised her to click here on the District website, where you will see descriptions of The Role of the Board, the Role of the Superintendent, some other FAQs, and also the Board Member Code of Ethics, which contains language about what Board members are and are not responsible for.

For a more formal description, you can read the BOE Policy Manual, Bylaws Section 0120. (I'm not going to put a link here because I'm not sure you want to download the 1,633-page document.)

When I sense that someone may have a misconception about what the BOE does, I try to get across two main (helpful) facts:

1) The Board of Education does not run the schools. The Board's job is to make sure the schools are well run.

2) Any single BOE member has absolutely no power or authority, except when acting, by vote, as a member of the five-member Board.

Both of those facts come from the New Jersey statute 18A, which also states that every Board member must all make decisions "based on the educational welfare of children."

Last year I ran across this quote regarding micromanaging by Boards of Ed. It's a helpful perspective:
Democracy does not mean that the people’s representatives — the school board—take over and operate the schools any more than it means that the board members of a symphony play the violins.
-- American School Board Journal, November 2010
An interesting way to put it, but makes sense.

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