50-State Comparison: K-12 Governance Structures

State education governance is the practice of coordinating institutions, processes and norms to guide collective decision-making and action. Understanding how key governance roles are structured and relate to each other helps simplify complex systems for policymakers. Every state has the same or similar policymaking roles; however, each of the roles operate differently in the context of each state’s governance model. This resource provides a national overview of the key policymaking roles in K-12 education policy, a summary of each role’s general powers and duties and some information on how they relate to other policymaking roles.Education Commission of the States researched state level education governance roles to provide three comprehensive resources: 50-State Comparison.

Forty-one have statutory language giving the governor a formal role. Twenty-four states detail the governor’s authorities and duties in education policy in constitutional language and in statute. Every state has constitutional language detailing the authority and duties of state legislatures in education, and 43 states give the legislature some role in appointing or confirming the chief state school officer or state board of education members. Twenty-seven chief state school officers have a formal constitutional role in state government. Additionally, how they are selected for office varies: 20 are appointed by state boards of education, 17 are appointed by the governor, 13 are elected and one is appointed by the state executive-level secretary. State board of education authority and duties are also detailed in state constitutions and statute. Twenty-three states include state boards in the constitution and 49 have statutory powers and duties. Only Minnesota and Wisconsin do not have a state board and New Mexico’s public education commission is advisory only. Thirty states have some variation of an executive-level secretary. Such positions may mean additional formal duties for chief state school officers, or they may be individually appointed positions designated to serve the state board of education or work in some other capacity.

Source: 50-State Comparison: K-12 Governance Structures