64 12.1 Governance of Illinois State Education

The State Board consists of nine members who are appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. Board members serve four-year terms, with State Board membership limited to two consecutive terms.

The board sets educational policies and guidelines for public and private schools, preschool through grade 12, and vocational education. It analyzes the aims, needs, and requirements of education and recommends legislation to the General Assembly and Governor to benefit the more than 2 million schoolchildren in Illinois.


Federal Influences on Governance

The 10th Amendment gives states control over education that limits the federal government’s role in education. The Secretary of Education is a cabinet position appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The secretary of education’s responsibility is to ensure all schools are abiding by the federal policies and laws pertaining to education. Both the House and Senate have education committees to review educational policies and proposed laws. Adoption of federal policies were influenced by funding in the past, but a new law has drastically limited this practice. An example was Race to the Top as an incentive for adopting the CCSS under the Obama administration.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recently replaced No Child Left Behind (2002) and represents a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally authorized in 1965 as the federal legislation that guides public education in the United States. In response to state feedback under NCLB, ESSA provides states the flexibility to develop programs that meet the needs of individual states. An important component to ESSA is the inclusion of a measure of equity and access to education for all students, including disadvantaged and high-needs students.

Local Influences on Governance

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to become familiar with your school’s organizational structure, policies, procedures, and culture. Understanding how your school is governed and establishing good communication with your superintendent, principal, and colleagues will ensure you are meeting the expectations of the district. We will discuss several layers of local governance including the Board of Education, Superintendent, and other district and building-level personnel that ensure a school is complying with the multitude of policies and laws of the state and Federal Government.

Figure: 10.2 General Organizational Structure of a School

Local Board of Education

As a teacher your work is primarily influenced by the local arm of school governance, the Board of Education. In Illinois State, all public schools have a Board of Education (BOE). The board’s powers and duties are derived from the state constitution, the laws of Illinois, and the regulations or rulings of the Illinois State Superintendent. The Board of Education is a group of locally elected officials who serve as volunteers and have several important responsibilities, most notably to establish district policies, develop an annual budget for public approval, approve or disapprove of the superintendent’s recommendations on personnel matters and contracts, and to evaluate the superintendent.  Board members typically serve in two, three, or four-year terms. The BOE size varies but must include an odd number of members for voting purposes (5, 7, 9).

Meetings of the BOE are held in public and the meeting minutes and proceedings are public information except for matters of personnel that are confidential. Anyone who is an adult may serve as a member of the BOE. There is no educational requirement to serve as a member of the BOE. Community members choose to run for this position for a variety of reasons. Some members are parents, grandparents, business owners, and concerned citizens. The local BOE often reflects many of the values, customs, and culture of a school district. As a new or veteran, teacher you should plan to attend some of the BOE meetings to better understand the community you work in and the people who determine educational policy in your district. Be sure to review policies and procedures.

Superintendent of Schools

The superintendent of schools is selected by the Board of Education and is the district’s chief executive officer. As such, the superintendent is responsible for the district’s day-to-day operation and administration of board policies, programs, and plans for board action.  Superintendents are hired and serve for a term period, usually four years. Superintendents are not eligible to earn tenure like teachers and principals. A superintendent works with a team of administrators to ensure students’ educational and safety needs are met. Typically, they will supervise school business officials, various principals and curriculum leaders, and other members of the school management team (buildings and grounds, transportation director, etc.). As the school leader, the superintendent should be an obvious and influential member of the school community. The superintendent’s vision, philosophy, and values all who contribute to decisions that create school climate and culture.

District Personnel

Many students come to teaching from various backgrounds and experiences in schools. School settings are as diverse as are people. Schools operate in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Schools range from multi-building districts to PK-12 one-building schools with 100 students. Considering this level of diversity, each school may or may not have the resources to support district and building-level personnel.  A familiar hierarchy in schools might be the Superintendent, Principal, Assistant Principal, Director of Curriculum, Business office, and teachers. See Figure 1.1.



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Introduction to Education by Shannon M. Delgado and Sarah Mark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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