Public Involvement in School Governance

Adopted January 2003 – Reaffirmed April 2015 – Legislation Commission

The California State PTA believes in democratic principles of government and that, as part of the established democratic process, any governance system must include checks and balances between the executive, legislative and judicial systems. Citizens must maintain and exercise the right to vote for those who govern them. The officials they elect should be directly responsible and accountable to their constituents. Every citizen should be encouraged to give input to their elected officials, state agencies, and local governing boards for the improvement of services. The California State PTA believes these principles of governance are essential to a well functioning and effective public education system so vital to a thriving democracy.

The California State Constitution, Article IX, sets forth the framework for California’s public education system, including the election of a state superintendent of public instruction. Clear definition of responsibilities for each part of the school governance system is necessary for this structure to function smoothly.

The California State PTA believes that the roles and responsibilities of each component in the state’s education governance structure must be clearly defined, compatible, and not overlapping or contradictory.

  • The elected Governor is responsible for producing the total State Budget, including education.
  • The elected Superintendent must have authority for the fiscal and programmatic implementation of the education program. To assign this authority outside the Office of the Superintendent is to disenfranchise the public from the policy making process.
  • The State Board of Education is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The California State PTA believes the role of the Board of Education should be to advise the Superintendent of Public Instruction and to serve as a conduit for public input to education matters at the state level. PTA also believes the members of the State Board of Education must reflect the demographics of the State and include representation of stakeholders, including parents.

The California State PTA believes that input from members of the public is essential in education policy making at all levels of governance—state, county, and local school district.

The California State PTA believes in local control of educational decisions when it is in the best interests of students to make these decisions locally. Local school districts should have the flexibility to meet the needs of their student populations. Local governing boards should focus on policies and planning and should allow superintendents full authority to manage the schools in their districts.

The California State PTA further believes that County Offices of Education, as established in the California State Constitution, have an important role in providing services and oversight for local school districts, and in some instances direct control of local schools. The roles and responsibilities of members of County Boards of Education, whether elected or appointed, must also be clearly defined as programmatic and fiscal implementation, or advisory.

Appointed members of the State Board of Education must be qualified by either experience or training for their roles and be required to participate in ongoing professional development.

The California State PTA strongly believes it is the responsibility of parents and community members to provide necessary input for effective decision-making at the local and state levels. The public is responsible for electing local school board members, for monitoring actions of the State Board of Education, and for holding both elected and appointed officials accountable for the decisions they make while fulfilling their established roles and responsibilities.

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