Getting in the Weeds

If you’re interested in seeing what the local politics of school turnaround look like, you could do a lot worse than this BuffaloNews.com blog item by Mary Pasciak. It’s got a lot of great stuff about community engagement, school board tactics, union politics, and more.

This piece also provides a great opportunity to make a point about how the average American’s “political attention span” interfaces with education policy. While Americans are paying more attention to national politics these days, participation in local politics is still pretty dismal. But,the vast majority of education policy decisions are still made at the local level. My take is that the average citizen attends most closely to presidential politics, followed by other major state and federal political figures, then local officeholders, then school boards, then local union politics. You should probably invert that structure when thinking about relative importance for education policy. This is somewhat of a straw-man, because federal influence varies depending on concentrations of poverty and state funding systems, but it’s not far off.

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