Which school do you want to support?
California’s system for governing its schools is complicated and often ambiguous. Many different people and groups set policies and rules for public schools, and they don’t always see things the same way.
What is the right balance between state, federal, and local authority over our public schools?
Decisions about how schools operate are made everywhere from Washington D.C. and the governor’s office to the faculty meeting at the local elementary school. For example, the state Legislature and governor make laws governing education and they control the budget. State and federal courts have mandated some policies. Voters have too, by passing ballot initiatives. Local school boards, along with the district superintendents they hire, run the schools. They see that state and federal requirements are carried out. School principals, teachers, and employee unions all play a role. In charter schools, the lines of authority are a bit different but many of the same rules apply.
These decision makers often have the strongest voices in how the schools operate. Yet all of them serve—and are ultimately accountable to—the parents and other community members who pay the taxes that support public schools.
This chapter describes these players and their roles. As you read, keep this question in mind: What is the right balance between state, federal, and local authority over our public schools? That’s a constant tension in our education system.
We convinced Jeff to narrate a short video preview of each lesson. We hope you get a kick out of the awkward expressions we captured him in...
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