CHAPTER

Overview

One of the most basic forms of local government is the school board. There is over 13,500[1] school districts in America, with roughly 90,000 school board members. These members oversee the K-12 education of about 50 million students.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2018 (before the massive pandemic spending in 2020 and 2021, the United States was  spending $720.9  billion on public elementary and secondary education per fiscal year.[2]  That breaks down to an average of $12,612, with some districts like New York and the District of Columbia spending $24,040 and $22,759 per student respectively.  National test scores should reflect these expenditures, but they don’t appear to.

We are struggling to keep ground as a nation. American students face formidable competition from their international peers, particularly in math and the sciences. In the latest round of tests from the Program for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, U.S. students were ranked behind 12 nations including China, who ranked highest; below average in mathematics ranking behind 31 nations including China, who ranked highest, and better than average but a full 88 points behind China, who again ranked highest among nations in science literacy in comparison with students in other countries. [3]

Despite these lackluster results, we have continued to pour taxpayer funds into the public education system without adequately addressing ways to improve that system. And since money doesn’t directly translate into achievement, we must change our approach. We have allowed our education system to become a monopoly, and yet we know that in the real world, competition produces better results. We must bring competition to American education to enact change: reforming the education system must be a priority for all people, regardless of party affiliation. It’s time to spend our education dollars more effectively and use viable alternative education solutions to help our children succeed.

Protecting the status quo will not produce a quality education for America’s students. Our goal must be to improve the system with real solutions and strategic reforms. Our future largely depends on the bold choices we make today in how we educate the coming generation. And the local school board (and their biases) will play a crucial role in that process.


 

[1] https://ballotpedia.org/List_of_school_districts_in_the_United_States

[2] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/school-system-finances.html

[3] https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/pisa2018/#/science/intlcompare