Becoming Involved with Your State Board of Education

Dr. Jeff Keeling
Dr. Jeff Keeling
High school principal; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
A school board word map concept with related words such as “administration, public school, education, policies” etc.

Benefits of Being Involved with Your State Board of Education

State Boards of Education are responsible for approving initiatives proposed by their relevant Departments of Education and ensuring that legislative acts approved by their State’s General Assembly are implemented in accordance with the law. Becoming involved with your State Board of Education either by serving as a member or by attending meetings and sharing comments as a non-member provides a venue for members of the public and professional educators to influence the policy-making process.

Additionally, becoming familiar with your state board and its members creates opportunities for networking with individuals involved at the highest levels of educational policymaking within your state. For example, State Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries of Education are present at State Board meetings and numerous other department officers. As a result, being present at meetings allows an individual to develop important relationships with those in leadership positions as well as other colleagues and representatives from a variety of institutions.

How I Became a Voting Member of Pennsylvania State Board of Education 

I became a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education in 2018 after being contacted by PA State Senator Michele Brooks who asked if I would be interested in serving on the board. Following Senator Brooks’ nomination, I was required to submit documentation of my eligibility including my professional resume and a variety of other qualifying articles.

The PA General Assembly then approved my candidacy and nomination, and I subsequently received my Commission as member of the State Board of Education from Governor Tom Wolf. I did not seek the nomination to serve as a board member but was offered the nomination based on my experience in public school administration. Individuals who are interested in serving on their state board should contact their local representative or senator to express interest in serving on their board as vacancies become available.

What I Do as a Voting Member 

As a member of the Pennsylvania Board of Education, I serve as a member of the board at large and the board’s Councils of Basic Education and Career/Technical Education. I also serve on several sub-committees of the board. Motions for state board approval originate at the committee level and then proceed to the council level. Once a council has approved an actionable motion, said motion is then presented to the entire board for approval.

A significant portion of my responsibility is to read relevant documents related to proposed board actions to remain current and informed about matters concerning public education. As a member of the Council of Basic Education, I analyze prospective board actions in light of their potential impact upon the Pre-K-12 education sector. Often, proposed action items may appear to be highly productive in theory, but part of my role is to determine how they would function in actuality when applied at the local district and school levels. When presented with information that will impact students both in public and private educational settings, I must carefully weigh the pros and cons of the matter and vote according to what I believe will be best for all school-aged children across Pennsylvania.

How to Get Involved

To become more involved with your State’s Board of Education, the best place to begin is the board’s website. Most state board websites include lists of board members, upcoming meeting dates, minutes from previous meetings, and information about ongoing action items being considered by the board. In Pennsylvania, the state board’s operations are overseen procedurally by a chairperson and managerially by an executive director who is not a member of the board.

Questions about how to become more involved should be directed to the executive director or their office staff. Another way to become involved is to contact state board members representing your local region. In this manner, your opinions can be heard and then subsequently shared by your local board member. Many state boards now livestream their meetings via Zoom or other online conferencing platforms.

This enables educators and members of the general public to watch meetings remotely, while still having the opportunity to provide comments during the public comment section of the meetings. All educators and school leaders should maintain a degree of familiarity with the issues considered by their State Boards of Education to be able to make their voices heard concerning matters that will affect their schools and students.

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