State and Local Control

Boy at deskBecause public education is primarily a state and local responsibility, there is significant variation in curriculum, assessment, teacher quality, school funding, and other aspects of education. Students moving from one district to another may experience curriculum that they were already taught or that is more advanced, and may have to adapt to new ways of assessing their progress.

States generally have authority over state curriculum and graduation standards, testing programs, teacher-certification rules, and accreditation standards for school districts and teacher-preparation institutions.

Local school boards generally have authority over curriculum, teacher hiring and salary structures, and principal selection. There are more than 95,000 local school board members nationwide. Local school board members are generally elected and, as a result, tend to be accessible to parents, military leaders, and school leaders. Families can directly contact their local school board member with questions, they can testify before the board, and they can run for election to the board, among other things. Additionally, each school has a principal and, depending on the size, a range of other staff, which might include assistant principals, counselors, mental health providers, a nurse, curriculum specialists, and security and administrative staff.