A national study of public school board member demographics, management concerns and opinions on critical issues in education

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to examine demographic characteristics, management concerns and opinions on critical issues in education of public school board members throughout the nation. An historical review of social composition, concerns and issues was conducted from studies of school board members and school boards. Recommendations as to suggested future directions in school board research were made based upon the review of studies over a 65-year period and findings from the 1977 National Survey of Local School Boards.

Participants in the 1977 survey were all subscribers to the American School Board Journal, and distribution of a questionnaire to these participants was sponsored by the National School Boards Association. Respondents numbered 1,268, and the survey response rate was 39.5%. All states were represented in the survey as were all types and all sizes of school districts.

Demographic profiles were determined; the rank priority of school board member management concerns was established; and level of agreement or disagreement to 3 statements in each of 5 critical education issue areas; discipline, curriculum, Federal involvement, quality of instruction and financial support of public education; was analyzed. Study findings suggested that region, district type and district size were the most influential board characteristics in relation to other characteristics, management concerns and opinions on educational issues. The personal characteristics of educational attainment, occupation and age were the most influential with respect to other characteristics, concerns and issues.

With a critical eye toward supplementing the foundation for the further study of school boards, recommendations included: the suggested study of boards as collectives; the initiation of a focal center for the study of school boards on a concentrated and comparative basis; the need to assure representativeness, generalizability and utility in school board research; and several criticisms and suggestions posed to help focus future research more clearly, and aid the researcher and practitioner in making the study of school boards more utilitarian.