How accessible are state boards of education to the parents, guardians, teachers and administrators they serve?
Bryan VanGronigen and his co-authors investigate this issue in "Do State Boards of Education Offer an Avenue for Public Voice?", published in the journal Urban Education.
Given the increasing role of digital technology in education, VanGronigen and his co-authors analyzed state board of education (SBOE) websites, asking whether they supported meaningful public engagement. They developed a unique “SBOE E-Accessibility Index'' to examine the websites of 47 state boards, which allowed them to score each website’s accessibility based on data points related to general information, board member information, board meeting information, and website design.
Most state boards satisfied basic conditions for public engagement and data transparency, but did not encourage public participation, active collaboration with the government agency, and seamless engagement with other related agencies. For example, only 17 websites explicitly described how the public could engage with their board and only 2 websites provided live streaming of their meetings.
SBOEs often serve as policy makers, advocates, liaisons, and consensus builders. While a state's education governance can be complex, SBOEs often set policies for state departments of education to implement. In some states, SBOEs considerably influence the day-to-day administration of schools in their state by setting curriculum standards, adopting textbooks, or creating educator evaluation programs. Yet, very little research has been published on SBOEs, and this study demonstrates that these powerful policy actors aren’t very accessible to their constituents.