Publications and Press
In addition to supporting school board members via fellowships, coaching, events, and more, School Board Partners conducts ground-breaking school board research and regularly features in the news.
Report: Empty Seats at Powerful Tables
The State of School Boards in America
To help school boards evolve into institutions oriented toward justice, we must better understand who serves them, and get a grasp of their priorities, challenges, the support they require, and ideas about systemic racism in their district. To that end, we conducted a large-scale, first-of-its-kind survey of elected school board members from across the country. Our analysis focuses on education leaders of color.Read the Report
School Board Partners in the News
School Board Partners Announces 6th Cohort of Competitive Fellowship for Elected School Board Members
February 2, 2024
New Orleans, LA — Today, School Board Partners (SBP) announced its sixth and largest cohort of Fellows to join its School Board Partners National Fellowship. SBP has selected 99 individuals to participate in the competitive, one-year fellowship for diverse elected school board members. This year’s cohort is made up of 80% people of color, with participants hailing from 76 different school districts and 28 different states, representing a total 2.2 million students.
November 15, 2023
Today, School Board Partners released a first-of-its-kind Empowered Governance Framework and Policy Toolkit targeted to elected school board members. Thousands of new school board members were elected just last week and Empowered Governance will equip users with power, easily applied policies and tools for a more accountable, power-balanced, and equity-focused approach.
November 15, 2023
According to SBP, there has never been a more critical time to strengthen the leadership and governance of our nation’s public schools. This week, School Board Partners released a new school board governance framework and policy toolkit, Empowered Governance. Operating from the belief that school board members are often elected by their communities with a mandate for change, SBP believes governance frameworks must empower members to lead. However, existing governance models are few, antiquated, and do not empower members to step into their roles as policymakers. This is a problem because school board members who are not empowered, well-trained, and supported to govern can quickly become ineffective. Empowered Governance is a new, policy-centered governance model that offers a more accountable, power-balanced, and equity-focused approach to the work of school boards. By supporting sound policymaking and governance practices, this model empowers school boards to empower young people to reach their full potential, while also empowering historically marginalized communities.
November 13, 2023
Given the relatively low cost of school board races, the influx of even a few thousand dollars of outside funding can transform the nature of such elections at a time of high turnover: According to a 2022 survey from School Board Partners, a national organization focused on recruiting and training anti-racist school board members, nearly two-thirds of school board members nationwide said they planned not to seek reelection.
October 18, 2023
Today, Bend, Oregon School Board Member Carrie Douglass was selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials with about 200 members, with Honorary Co-Chairs U.S. Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.
October 18, 2023
Today, New Orleans School Board Member Ethan Ashley was selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials with about 200 members, with Honorary Co-Chairs U.S. Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.
October 10, 2023
A mistake many districts and superintendents make—after the votes are counted—is not putting newly-elected board members through an onboarding process, say Ethan Ashley and Carrie Douglass, the co-CEOs and founders of School Board Partners, which offers training in anti-racist leadership and diversity. “That power dynamic plays an important role in how relations should be built,” says Ashley, a member of the Orleans Parish School Board in Louisiana. “It allows for a level-setting, and it’s about knowing that disagreement in itself is not what your relationships are built on. They’re built on mutual understanding of why the board members are in the role, the impact they’re trying to make and the legacy they want to leave.” Onboarding should cover concepts like mission statements or social contracts in which superintendents and board members set goals that will be aligned with the superintendent’s evaluation. These documents can also establish a roadmap for dealing with disagreements, adds Douglass, a former teacher and charter administrator who is now board chair at Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon.
June 20, 2023
When I first ran for school board in 2017, I was concerned about climate change personally but honestly didn’t understand what role I could play as a school board member. Once elected, I realized that our school district — like most school districts — is one of the largest landowners, real estate developers, transportation providers and employers in our community. This gives me — and school board members across the country — tremendous influence to lead positive change for climate action and climate justice.
May 19, 2023
Ethan Ashley , Carrie Douglass
As a school board member representing the school where Ruby Bridges integrated, the 69th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education takes on special significance for our work. This anniversary is an ideal time to reflect on decisions school board members like us make every day — those that seem mundane but crucial like approving budgets and evaluating the superintendent, and those that are framed as controversial, like approving curriculum, book banning, critical race theory, gender neutral restrooms, and parental rights. It may seem like controversial culture war issues are a new phenomenon, but in reality they are simply a continuation of culture wars that have persisted for decades — a modern reawakening of oppressive ideology that ebbs and flows across the decades — sometimes more hidden and sometimes more explicit like the current moment. Instead of avoiding these culture wars, we have a golden opportunity right now to bring about positive, systemic change by facing these issues head on and doing away with policies that reinforce inequality, racism and unacceptable student outcomes.
January 9, 2023
A recent report from School Board Partners found that just 38% of surveyed elected board members said that they intended to run for reelection. In recent years, some 70% of incumbent board members ran again, making such a decline something more than noteworthy. School boards hold tremendous power in public education. Responsible for setting the lion’s share of policy, practice and budgets in public schools, board members are often volunteers or earn just a negligible stipend. One consequence is those who serve tend to be wealthier and whiter than the student bodies over which they hold authority.
December 23, 2022
Ethan Ashley , Carrie Douglass
Elected school boards need a complete transformation if we are going to provide our nation’s children with the education they deserve. That transformation must occur in three areas: people, power and professionalization. Our students need the right people on school boards who are representative of the community they serve. Those people need to use their power to dismantle systematic barriers for students. And that power will be enhanced by the professionalization of school boards, with rigorous training, tools, and support to effect change.
December 20, 2022
Carrie Douglass is the co-founder and co-CEO of School Board Partners, a nonprofit that supports and trains school board members across the country. She is a twice-elected school board member and past board chair. She has worked as a teacher, school leader, district administrator, and nonprofit leader.