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Charter Board Partners

In NYC, Like Everywhere, School Boards are Key

July 20, 2017 | by Carrie C. Irvin

A recent New York Times article, Does It Matter Who Runs New York City’s Schools?, lays out the case for mayoral control of schools and explains the argument against district school boards. But there is another important school dimension of governance: the school-level, non-elected, nonprofit boards that govern the 200+ public charter schools in New York City and thousands more schools across the country.

Charter school boards offer thousands of citizens the chance to participate in governing public schools. They are beholden to the students and parents of the school(s) they oversee, not to narrow constituencies or influential lobbyists.

The power of public charter schools lies in the marriage of autonomy and accountability; charters have flexibility and freedom to innovate, and in return are – theoretically – held accountable for results.  School-level boards bring this accountability to the school level. If the board doesn’t do its job, the charter can be revoked.

School-level boards, when well composed, functioning effectively, and supported with training and resources about governance best practice, offer a powerful balance of representation and accountability for quality.