Who governs? Blank spots and blind spots in state boards of education in the United States





state boards of education, educational policy, state governance, critical policy analysis


State boards of education (SBOEs) are one of many governmental entities that reside within the larger educational policymaking sphere. With recent U.S. federal legislation devolving more authority over education to states, state-level governmental entities like SBOEs are in the spotlight perhaps now more than ever. Yet not much has been published about SBOE structures and functions, much less about their members and how they might influence educational policies and education broadly. Using critical policy analysis methods, this descriptive study focused on two areas: (a) the criteria and processes that states use to select SBOE members, and (b) the characteristics of today’s SBOE members (e.g., demographics) and the extent to which SBOEs are representative portraits of the states they serve. Findings report similarities and differences among members within and between the 47 U.S. states with SBOEs. We close by critically assessing our findings, especially whether SBOE member selection criteria and processes and SBOE members themselves are well-positioned to best represent their constituents.



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Author Biographies

Bryan A. VanGronigen, University of Delaware

Bryan A. VanGronigen is an assistant professor of education specializing in educational leadership in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. His overarching research focus is on organizational resilience and change management in K-12 schools with specific interest areas in school improvement efforts, the preparation of educational leaders, and educational policy analyses.

Michelle D. Young, Loyola Marymount University

Michelle D. Young is dean of the School of Education and a professor of educational leadership and policy at Loyola Marymount University and executive director emeritus of the University Council for Educational Administration. Her research focuses on the development of educational leaders along with educational politics and policy.

Kevin Rodriguez, University of Virginia

Kevin Rodriguez is an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political philosophy, policy, and law. Following graduation, Kevin plans to attend law school in preparation for a career as a lawyer or in politics.




How to Cite

VanGronigen, B. A., Young, M. D., & Rodriguez, K. (2022). Who governs? Blank spots and blind spots in state boards of education in the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (11). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.7006



Special Issue: Critical Policy Analysis in Education