Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.
There are a lot of responsibilities in education, but who is in charge of what? In this lesson, we'll examine the role of the local government in public education in America, including the duties that are common to local boards of education.
Government & Education
Buddy is very excited. He's just been promoted to superintendent of his local school district, and he is looking forward to helping students learn through his work.
But he's a little confused, too. He's not sure exactly what his role is. He knows that the state government has some say in how the schools are run, and he's just not too sure where the state's power ends and the local government's power begins.
In America, the idea that every child deserves a free and quality education is a fundamental one, and it is the government's responsibility to make sure that public education, or schooling that is free, is available for all children. But, as Buddy has found out, there are a lot of different government entities that play a role in public schools.
Let's look closer at the roles that local and state governments play in public education, including the common duties of local school districts, like the one Buddy works for.
Local vs. State
Buddy is in charge of his local schools, but he's not sure what he's supposed to do and what the state is supposed to do. He's confused about the roles of local and state government in public education.
Though states and municipalities vary, in general, the state government sets policies to guide the educational direction of schools and districts within the state. For example, the state might set standards for what should be achieved at each grade level. The state government also might say that all teachers have to pass a certain test in order to be certified.
The local government, then, is in charge of carrying out the state requirements. This involves making on-the-ground decisions about how best to do what the state requires of districts. For example, Buddy will need to decide how to get the schools in his district to achieve the standards set by the state. He'll also have to make sure that all of the teachers in the district pass the test to become certified.
So, essentially, the state sets the rules of education, and the local government carries out those rules.
Buddy is starting to be a little clearer on what he's supposed to do as the local superintendent and what the state will do. For example, he now knows that he can't just say that anyone can be a teacher; they have to be certified, and the state has outlined the requirements for teacher certification, like passing the test.
But he's still a little fuzzy on the specific duties that he has to perform. What exactly will he have to do?
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As we mentioned before, local and state governments vary, so the duties of the local government in terms of education are different depending on where you live. But there are some common things that the local government does for public schools. These include:
1. Establishing specific priorities for student learning and achievement.
Buddy will need to outline how the students in his district will be meeting standards. This might include things like choosing textbooks, figuring out what classes should be taught, and other things like that.
2. Setting goals and action plans for school performance.
In addition to making sure that students are meeting standards, Buddy will need to make sure that the schools in the district are doing well. If there are schools that are not doing well and have many students failing, Buddy will need to figure out how to make them better.
3. Ensuring staff and resource allocations align with district goals.
Buddy has to figure out how to make his district run on a day-to-day basis. This means things like making sure that there's enough money to pay the electricity bill at the schools, keeping an eye on staff performance, and things like that. For example, remember how the state requires that all teachers pass a test to become certified? Buddy will have to make sure that every teacher in the district has passed that test and is certified.
Public education, or schooling that is free and open to the public, is overseen by different levels of government. The state government sets policies for education in the state, while the local government is in charge of carrying out the state policies through specific action steps. Among the duties common to local governments are establishing specific priorities for student learning and achievement, setting goals and action plans for school performance, and ensuring staff and resource allocations align with district goals.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to describe a local government's role in public education, including its common duties.
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