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States and Education


legal basis of state relations to nonpublic schools
kent m. weeks

state adminstrative services in education
stephen b. lawton

state boards of education
michael d. usdan

state governments in higher education
houston d. davis


In the United States' federal system, states carry out the function of providing for the education of their citizens. The U.S. Constitution does not specifically identify education as a federal obligation and the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution reserves to the states those areas not specifically delegated to the federal government. Historically, since the early nineteenth century, towns and villages provided education and this practice continues in the early twenty-first century with local governance by school boards and similar entities.

In the early twenty-first century, states provide for compulsory education of children, typically through age sixteen. State governing boards make policy and promulgate regulations for public and nonpublic schools within a framework established by state law and state and federal constitutional requirements.

State Regulation and Parental Choice

Although states gradually assumed more responsibility for providing public education, nonpublic schools also formed in order to carry out the particular areas of emphasis. In the twentieth century, as the country strove to assimilate diverse populations, states sought to impose restrictions upon nonpublic schools. A series of court decisions provided the legal framework for the right of parents to choose schools appropriate for their own children.

Robert Meyer, a teacher in a nonpublic parochial school challenged his conviction in 1920 under a Nebraska statute that prohibited the teaching of German to elementary school age children until they had passed the eighth grade. The purpose of the statute was to "Americanize" Nebraska's increasingly diverse population. In Meyer v. State of Nebraska (1923), the United States Supreme Court ruled the statute unconstitutional since it effectively deprived the parents of a liberty rightthe right to chose their children's schoolin violation of the U.S. Constitution Fourteenth Amendment due process clause. The Court affirmed the right of states to regulate education even to the point of requiring that the instruction be carried on in English: "The power of the state to compel attendance at some school and to make reasonable regulations for all schools, including a requirement that they shall give instructions in English, is not questioned." The Court also ruled, however, that there was no adequate foundation for the statute: "No emergency has arisen which renders knowledge by a child of some language other than English so clearly harmful as to justify its inhibition with the consequent infringement of rights long freely enjoyed. We are constrained to conclude that the statute as applied is arbitrary and without reasonable relation to any end within the competency of the state." The Court opinion was grounded on the constitutionally protected liberty interests of the parents and the teacher. "His right thus to teach and the right of parents to engage him so to instruct their children, we think, are within the liberty of the amendment."

When the state of Oregon enforced a statute compelling every child between the ages of eight to sixteen years of age to attend public schools, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of parents to chose nonpublic schools. In 1924 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the court upheld the right of the Society of Sisters and another private school challenger to operate their schools and affirmed the right of the state to regulate nonpublic schools. The court again reaffirmed the right of the state to regulate private schools.

No question is raised concerning the power of the State reasonably to regulate all schools, to inspect, supervise, and examine them, their teachers and pupils; to require that all children of proper age attend some school, that teachers shall be of good moral character and patriotic disposition, that certain studies plainly essential to good citizenship must be taught, and that nothing be taught which is manifestly inimical to the public welfare.

Parents, however, have rights.

The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

Several years later, parents challenged a Hawaiian statute that prohibited attendance at foreign language schools until after the second grade and limited attendance to such schools to six hours per week and specified the curriculum. The schools were regulated in order that the Americanism of the pupils may be promoted. In Farrington v. Tokushige, 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court held the law was unconstitutional because its enforcement according to the court "would deprive parents of fair opportunity to procure for their children instruction which they think important and we cannot say is harmful."

Types of Nonpublic Schools

Most states recognize three types of nonpublic schools: private schools without religious affiliation, religiously affiliated private schools, and home schools. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the total nonpublic school student population in 1999 was about 5.2 million and represented about 10 percent of the total U.S. elementary and secondary school population, a percentage that had not changed significantly in the preceding years. Religious schools represented about 80 percent of the total nonpublic schools. Home schools represented a new and rapidly growing option although they did not educate a significant percent of the total school population. Estimates suggest that the home school population is growing about 10 percent to 15 percent per year.

State Regulation

States can regulate nonpublic schools under their police powers relating to health and safety. Further, because education is compulsory, states possess the authority to promulgate requirements concerning areas such as teacher qualifications, time spent in class, and curriculum. A balance is involved. States may encounter legal challenges if their regulatory activities are determined to be so intrusive as to obliterate the mission of the nonpublic schools, if the regulation is found to be arbitrary, or if the regulation represents an unconstitutional intrusion into religion. Challenges to state regulation of nonpublic schools are typically based on the principles of parental choice, free speech, or religious freedom.

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) is a classic case in which Amish parents objected to a state requirement that their children must attend school until they were sixteen, a requirement in conflict with Amish parents' tradition of training their own children after the eighth grade. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that given the particular nature of the Amish religion and its documented record of beliefs, this regulation violated the free exercise rights of the Amish. The Court, however, again reaffirmed the right of the states to regulate education: "There is no doubt as to the power of a State, having a high responsibility for education of its citizens, to impose reasonable regulations for the control and duration of basic education."

In State v. Whisner (1976), Tabernacle Christian School, a school affiliated with a fundamentalist Christian church, objected to certain minimum standards required for Ohio schools that included, as the Ohio Supreme Court found, "the content of the curriculum, the manner in which it is taught, the persons who teach it, the physical layout of the buildings, the hours of instruction, and the educational policies intended to be achieved." The Court particularly examined the rule requiring that four-fifths of the total instructional time per week must be devoted to language arts, mathematics, social studies, health, citizenship, and optional foreign language, and one fifth to physical education, music, art, special activities and optional applied arts. The school argued that these requirements precluded the teaching of other subjects such as additional instruction in religion.

The court reasoned that First Amendment free exercise protections and that parental rights placed a burden on the state that only could be met if the state could demonstrate a compelling need for the regulation. The state must demonstrate that the regulation is the only way the state could achieve its objective of providing a "general education of high quality."

The court ruled Ohio failed to meet this burden when it concluded that the standards were "so pervasive and all-encompassing that total compliance with each and every standard by a non-public school would effectively eradicate the distinction between public and non-public education," and therefore would deprive the parents of their "traditional interest as parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children."

States have broad jurisdiction in regulating non-public schools, leading to a wide variation in regulation and therefore the regulations of these schools varies among the states. States may not prohibit teaching certain subjects but they may prescribe a core curriculum. States often require instruction in the U.S. Constitution and the history of the United States. Some states require that nonpublic schools teach "patriotism" or "good citizenship."

State regulation of nonpublic schools can cover the following areas: record keeping, length of school year and day, teacher certification, curriculum, health, evidence of immunization, and safety, including fire prevention, guns prohibition, and child abuse reporting.

During the early years of the country's history most schooling occurred in the home. Over time, many states adopted legislation prohibiting home schooling. Since there is not any federal constitutional basis for claiming a right to home school a child, parents' efforts focused on obtaining enabling legislation at the state level. Currently, states permit home schools and state regulation is minimal, generally covering such areas as training of parents, hours and days of attendance, and required tests. There have been legal challenges to state regulation such as requirements that home-school teachers be certified, requirements that home-schooled students take nationally standardized achievement tests, and regulations regarding fire and health codes. An area of continuing litigation relates to efforts by home-schooled children to select certain benefits from the public school system such as participating in extracurricular activities, like athletics and music programs. Few state courts have sustained claims by home-schooled children to a right to participate in extracurricular activities.

Public Funding of Nonpublic Schools

Although many nonpublic schools eschew state regulation, some seek federal or state financing of certain educational components of their schools. The controversies arise when the aid is available to a sectarian school, or students in that school, raising issues related to the First Amendment establishment clause prohibition against government aid of religion and similar state constitutional prohibitions.

The U.S. Supreme Court approved public support of school bus transportation for both public and nonpublic students as early as 1947. Subsequently, the Court developed a three-part test to measure the constitutionality of public funding. In Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), the court ruled that government action must satisfy the following requirements: (1) have a secular legislative purpose; (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor impedes religion; and (3) avoid excessive government entanglement with religion. The decision led to a series of conflicting decisions that prohibited use of public school teachers in parochial schools to teach remedial education, sustained tax deductions from the state income tax for school expenses paid to a public or a nonpublic school, and allowed regular textbooks to be loaned to students who attended a nonpublic school.

Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court moved away from the Lemon test and toward a "neutrality" principle that appears to sanction more government accommodation toward religion. The result is reflected in the overruling of some precedents and permitting a closer connection between public funds and religious schools and their activities. The court, in 1993, sanctioned public funds to employ a public school teacher to interpret for a hearing impaired student in a parochial school. In 1997, the court sustained use of public funds to pay for public school teachers to provide remedial education to disadvantaged children on the premises of parochial schools.

The constitutional battles will continue since the stakes are high for nonpublic schools and for the states as they try to steer through the constitutional maze of what is and what is not permissible under the religion clauses proscriptions.

The Public Nature of Nonpublic Schools

Although some nonpublic schools seek funding for various programs, others voluntarily submit to minimum state regulation in order to have their programs approved by the state. Benefits from such approval include the acceptance of courses and credits when students transfer to a public school, and teacher accrual of teaching experience for purposes of placement on the public school salary scale if they become employed by a public school. Such voluntary state regulation must not be intrusive or arbitrary and must be accomplished within constitutional proscriptions.

New challenges to state regulation may arise as states increase their accountability efforts by developing "high-stakes" end-of-course tests that students must pass in order to graduate. If states require nonpublic students to take these tests, challengers may argue that the state is effectively establishing curriculum and is intruding on the right of the non-public school to certify its graduates.

Other new areas of government policy will contribute to a further blurring of the line between public and nonpublic schools. For example, public models similar to some nonpublic schools may be established through choice programs that permit the establishment of public charter schools with more latitude in decision-making and resource allocation. If state voucher programs expand, recipients of voucher funds may be required to comply with additional state requirements that could contribute to a blurring of the distinction between public and non-public schools.

Through the litigation and legislative initiatives, states seem to have developed accommodations in regulating nonpublic schools by balancing the need to ensure that children receive adequate educational opportunities with the need to recognize legitimate religious claims and parental rights.

See also: Constitutional Requirements Governing American Education; Home Schooling; Private Schooling.


Bjorklun, Eugene C. 1996. "Home Schooled Students: Access to Public School Extracurricular Activities," Education Law Reporter 109 (1), June 27.

National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. 2000. Education Statistics Quarterly 2:124.

Kent M. Weeks


Power to administer school and college programs is shared among state bodies and the governing boards of school districts, community colleges, public universities, and private entities. Since the U.S. Constitution does not refer to education, jurisdiction over education is left to the states and the people, although states may not, in their actions, violate the Constitution. Forty-nine of the fifty state constitutions call for "uniform," "thorough," or "efficient" educational systems that make schooling available to all. In accord of these constitutions and court rulings, states have enacted legislative statutes to establish school districts, colleges, universities, and separate schools for special purposes. To each has been given a significant degree of autonomy to make many of the crucial decisions by which education is shaped. Chief responsibility for operating education has been placed on their shoulders, while both external accrediting bodies and state agencies hold them accountable for their performance. In the mid-twentieth century, education could fairly have been termed a local matter, since state frameworks established early in the century made it so; that era has passed. Hawaii has been the exception as it entered the Union without local school districts for elementary and secondary education.

Elements of state governmentsincluding state boards of education, state superintendents, state departments and boards for higher educational institutionsperform a number of crucial roles in each state's education system. Constitutions and statutes assign them significant powers as overseers, as formulators, and as enforcement officers to propose, draft, and carry out legislation. They serve as auditors of local unit performance and as reporters on what is transpiring, or what should transpire, with respect to education in the state. In addition, each state has at least one state-level agency charged with providing servicesas distinguished form regulatory actionsto local units in order to assist them in developing the capacity to deliver effective educational services.

Thus, the people of the states have established and are continuously modifying a statutory division of power and accountability between local units and state government administrative agencies. In this system, a state administrative agency is not directly in charge of educational performance in the state (with the exception of Hawaii). It usually discharges its administrative function by influencing local units that use a variety financial and regulatory means. In many states, this influence has grown dramatically since the mid-1960s when the federal government took on as a goal the strengthening of state educational agencies. Reflecting this growth in the state role, by 2001 twenty-three states had adopted legislation allowing direct administrative control of local unit by the state in order to address unresolved fiscal and educational problems, including "academic bankruptcy," that is, chronically poor performance by students. Also, between 1991 and 1999 thirty-six states passed legislation allowing the creation of new local unitscharter schoolsto offer publicly funded competition to existing local school districts.

State Administrative Agencies

Most states have multiple administrative agencies for education. All have a state educational agency, typically titled the state department of education or state department of public instruction, that handles administrative concerns for early childhood, elementary, secondary, and vocational programs. In some states this same agency also is responsible for adult education, vocational rehabilitation, and higher education. The majority of states, however, have a separate agency that provides administrative coordination for state-supported colleges and universities.

It would be misleading to imply that state administrative services to local units are always so neatly packaged. These two types of agencies usually have duties and powers extending beyond the confines of their primary concerns. State education agencies may preside over the state's program for vocational rehabilitation or operate certain colleges, special schools, or custodial institutions. Most are involved in higher education through their power to approve college programs for the preparation of teachers. Similarly, coordinating state agencies for higher education may serve as administrators of student loan programs or may affect high school programs by establishing uniform entrance requirements for all state-supported colleges. As an added complication, voluntary accrediting associations of schools, colleges, and professional programs have concurrent jurisdiction over many of the same matters as the state agencies.

In addition, state government structure is typically pluralistic in designating agencies to perform state-level administration of education-related matters. For example, a separate state building authority may administer a large program of capital outlay for building construction; as well, the purchase and equipment of school buses may be under the jurisdiction of a state purchasing authority. Assessment of K12 students, required by forty-eight states in 2001, is often the responsibility of a distinctive unit or agency.

In nearly all states, the requests for legislative appropriations by public institutions of higher education are screened by at least one state budgeting agency in addition to the coordinating agency established for higher education. The power to audit and report publicly on expenditures, a significant administrative control, typically resides in a state auditor's office, which acts independently of the education agencies. Surplus agricultural commodities, crucial to school lunch programs, are often handled by a separate administrative agency, as are state building codes for school and college structures. The total list of such dispersed responsibilities has increased as units linked to federal categorical grants have developed their own identity and serve to link the federal government to the management of specific local programs. Although the dispersal of authority may not constitute a negative factor affecting the ability to provide good government, they do compound the complexity of state administrative services to local education units.

Also complicating administrative services is their commingling with leadership services. For example, the state education agency usually has the power to promulgate a set of curriculum standards for all schools of the state. This administrative service, however, is used as a vehicle to promote and develop local unit capacity and willingness to provide good instructiona leadership service. For example, if "authentic assessment" is used as a part of standards-based testing of students, the state will typically offer professional development programs to inform teachers how to instruct students to perform effectively. Although state education agency functions normally are classified either as regulatory (administrative) or leadership (developmental), the line between these functions is largely obscured in practice.

Revenue Services

Revenue available to local units is largely controlled by state law and legislative appropriations rather than by state administrative agencies (which often act more as lobbies than disinterested civil agencies). A common feature of state law is the requirement that local school districts make an effort to derive revenues from local taxes, usually the property tax, before they can become eligible for state transfer payments. In many states, a state administrative agency (usually not the state education agency) determines the valuation of property upon which a district's require effort should be based.

Distribution of state-collected taxes to local school districts is preponderantly by formula; the state agency applies the formula, verifying the base figures, and processes the distribution with few judgmental actions. Some state education agencies, however, are influential with legislatures in changing the amounts of revenue to be distributed from state-collected taxes and in establishing the statutory formulas for distributing state aid. All states distribute some state-level revenue among local districts on an approved-program or approved-need basis, with a state agency as the approving authority. For example, special aid for special needs students is frequently allotted only after a state agency has determined the need and has been satisfied that the agency's criteria for an adequate program has been met. This type of judgmental revenue distribution is typical for vocational education and new categorically funded programs that address particular issues. Reflecting concern that too much is spent "outside the classroom," restrictions on the proportion of funds that may be spent on non-instructional purposes have become common, as have expenditure and tax rate limitations, the latter dating back to California's Proposition 13 and the "property tax revolt" of the late 1970s.

Revenue for capital outlay purposes is preponderantly within the jurisdiction of local units. In a few states, however, a state building authority may issue bonds against the credit of the whole state and use the proceeds to finance construction within local units. This device, adopted for example in Arizona as the result of a court case that found local funding of school buildings to be unconstitutional, results in considerable state agency control of most facets of school housing even as it benefits those districts that could not afford adequate school accommodations on their own. In other states an annual distribution of current state revenue is made on a formula basis to local units, which are accorded the privilege of issuing debentures against future receipts for the construction of their physical plant. This approach is closely regulated by the state. State agencies in several states have a variety of approval functions with respect to local bond issues to ensure that excessive debt is not undertaken or that debt is incurred for spurious purposes. Also significant is the availability of advisory and consultative services in state education agencies for use by local unitschiefly small onesin handling bond issues and sales. In higher education state agencies are active in determining what revenue shall be available for construction at individual colleges and universities as the "echo" to the baby boom enters its postsecondary phase.

State-supported colleges and universities depend heavily upon legislative appropriations for operating revenue, although in the early twenty-first century tuition, federal, and private funding make up more than half the revenue of many nominally public institutions. In some states, state-collected taxes are a significant revenue source for the private sector of higher education as well. A state's coordinating board for higher education typically exercises considerable authority in determining the distribution of appropriations among eligible institutions. Usually that agency develops distribution formulas; sometimes it sits in judgment on each institution's request before the legislature acts. At least one other state agency conducts similar reviews in states with coordinating boards, and all states have at least one agency, such as the executive department budget office, empowered to advise the legislature on higher education appropriations.

In states that authorize state contracts with private institutions for educational services, an administrative agency usually has considerable ministerial power in awarding contracts. In the late 1990s, actual appropriations to individual state-supported institutions were largely determined in the majority of states by transactions between the legislature and the state's higher education governing board (twenty-two states), coordinating body (twenty-one states) or planning agency and individual institutional boards. Consolidated governing boards exercise the most authority, including that for personnel, programs and budgets; coordinating bodies typically control programs and/or budgets or are advisory; planning agencies are advisory only. During the 1990s, there was a decisive shift toward the provision of greater power to oversight bodies, with an increase in the number of governing boards and in coordinating bodies, which exercised authority over both program and budgets.

With the advent of large federal government supports for education in the 1960s, state administrative agencies assumed expanded roles in the allocation of revenues to local units. Grants to school districts, private institutions, and state-supported colleges and universities are usually made in response to applications filed by those units. Under several pieces of federal legislation, a state agency reviews those applications and, in practical effects, makes or withholds awards. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), an act originally adopted in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" initiative. The current act includes nine sections or "titles" that detail numerous programs for areas such as technology, improvement of teaching, English language learning, and dropout prevention that are administered by the states, generally require formal application for funds, and may entail competition among applicants. In some cases consortia including higher education institutions are required. Currently, most federal funds assisting higher educational institutions do so by aiding students or research. State higher education agencies may be involved in administration with these programs as with the 529 college savings plans created under Sec. 529Qualified State Tuition Programs of federal income tax legislation.

Accompanying the allocation of funds may be state-provided advisory services to enhance the capacity of local units in developing and operating projects. Agencies may develop master plans for developing program areas targeted by the federal government. State agencies have been actively involved in the administration of federal programs for more than a century, dating from the first vocational education legislation. The federal government tries to balance its own role, which now emphasizes accountability, with support for state agencies and local units. The No Child Left Behind Act requires all states to conduct annual academic assessments for grades three through eight and produce annual report cards describing school and statewide progress. Statewide reports must disaggregate data according to race, gender, and other criteria to provide evidence of closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and other groups of students. At the same time, to reduce federal red tape and enhance local control, it cuts the overall number of ESEA programs from fifty-five to forty-five and for the first time offers most local school districts the freedom to transfer up to 50 percent of the federal dollars that they receive among several education programs without separate approval.

Permanent state administrative agencies influence operating revenues of local units in a number of ways. State agencies usually accredit elementary and secondary schools. To meet accreditation standards, local taxing units may have to increase the funds they make available. Or, by offering state funds to support part of a given program and thereby reducing the tax price of education, they may stimulate the local taxpayers to provide additional support. As of January 2002, of the twenty-three states that were implementing high school graduate exit exams, twelve provided state funds for remediation. The reports and recommendations of state-level administrative agencies affect the state's allocation of general revenue for education, as have numerous court decisions concerned with the equity and adequacy of funds for both operating and capital expenses. As with the federal government, states have adopted competitive bidding for grants requiring applications, sometime termed challenge grants, thereby extending the influence of the funds allocated. The permanent state administrative agencies for education, however, have been relatively unsuccessful in securing revenue to support their own activities, particularly those directed toward capacity building in local units. In 1992 to 1993, states averaged $46 per pupil in state-level K12 administration funding, with a ratio of 1,496 students per state staff member. Approximately 27 percent of the funding of $2 billion for came from the federal government and the number of staff ranged from 25 in Wyoming to 2,565 in New York and averaged about 575.

In the majority of states, the most dramatic influences upon educational revenue since the 1960s have come from outside the permanent administrative agency structure. Political influence has been brought to bear through both through all branches of governmentexecutive, legislative and judicial. One mechanism has been the use education commissions and committees: temporary quasi-agencies created to appraise current provisions for and effectiveness of K12 or higher education. The 1983 report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, titled A Nation at Risk, stimulated the creation of more than 300 commissions and committees across the United States. Usually chartered by legislatures and/or governors, composed of lay citizens as well as legislators and educators and financed by government funds, these committees marshaled public opinion and legislative action to support large-scale school reform initiatives affecting programs (e.g., state curriculum and assessment), administrative arrangements (e.g., charter schools and mayoralty appointment of school boards in large cities), and state revenue structures (e.g., new standards of adequacy and a shift from the local property tax to earmarked state funds). Free to use resources of talent and publicity typically denied to administrative agencies, these committees often effectively supplement established government structures for supervising education. During the 1980s and 1990s, governors came to play an unprecedented role in educational policy as did the courts, which overturned dozens of state funding mechanisms as being inconsistent with state constitutions.

Expenditure Services

State control of the monies expended by local units for education is provided chiefly by two devices: legislative earmarking of funds to restrict the purposes for which they shall be spent and the requirement that local agencies submit annual operating budget. Increasingly, the latter task is accomplished over the Internet, with forms downloaded and uploaded using state-agency-designed forms or spreadsheets that conform to state-mandated codes of account.

Legislative Earmarking

State administrative agencies are usually charged with presiding over the sanctity of statutory or appropriation directives regarding the purposes for which state funds shall be spent. This responsibility involves educating local officials on the intricacies of the law and establishing guidelines and interpretations regarding legal stipulations. It also entails auditing local unit performance and may require withholding funds or other sanctions, including state takeover, to secure compliance. A large number of states have statutory stipulations that a certain portion of state funds shall be expended only for teaching salaries and that a state-adopted minimum teaching salary schedules shall be met. A state administrative agency administers this requirement, defining who is a teacher, checking on salaries actually paid, and preventing application of teaching-salary money to other objects of expenditure. Some states, concerned about the deterioration of buildings, increasing class sizes, or other shortcomings, have put restrictions of the amount of funds that may be used for functions such as administration.

When stipulations are programmatic (e.g., that state funds that should be used to improve literacy) the state administrative agency may function in advisory and developmental capacities more than in a regulatory capacity. Few state education agencies are staffed sufficiently to provide such services statewide, however. As a result, they tend to concentrate their efforts on smaller, weaker local units or those that have been identified as failing to meet state standards. Some state agencies actively collaborate with urban school districts to improve results from activities funded through earmarked state and federal funds. Greater federal accountability threatens the removal or reallocation of funds if improvements cannot be demonstrated.


The Progressive movement of the early part of the twentieth century helped to establish a formal state role in funding education more equitably. At the same time, the state assumed a key role in establishing annual budgets for local units, a practice that has become universally taken for granted. As a result of the property tax revolt of the 1970s and 80s, commencing with California's Proposition 13, and court cases calling for more equitable funding, a number of states have moved to effectively fund education at the state level, implying that local budgets are set by these states. State education agencies advise local school districts on budget planning and may disseminate comparative data on budgeted items as a service to local school officials. In the typical state, state agencies lack the authority to modify local budgets when regulations are followed, but some states with strong agencies influence budgets through advice, persuasion, comparative reports, accrediting regulations, and public promotion. Sanctions adopted in the 1990s, such as state takeovers of fiscally and academically troubled districts, help to ensure that the agency's voice is heard.

The expenditure-control power of the state agency is also considerable in federally financed programs administered by the state. Reports on expenditures submitted to the state by local units are generally made public, sometimes on the Internet as a part of school and school district "report cards," ensuring that local units and the public at large has access to norms and averages. Records of expenditures also provide information that is useful for planning and for undertaking cost-effectiveness studies, although a tradition of local control has often undermined their use for systematic planning. "Every-student" databases that are being developed in a number of states, in part to ensure that students are not counted multiple times for state aid purposes, along with state and federal assessment data, are beginning to change this situation. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), a federal agency that is part of the Department of Education, plays a central role in developing uniform methods of collecting and reporting fiscal, enrollment, program, and other data. It also helps to build the capacity of state agencies to mount more sophisticated information systems.

Local Unit Reorganization

Local unit reorganization affects both higher education and local school districts.

Higher education. The exponential postwar expansion in postsecondary education, much of it in state-supported state colleges and universities, slowed in the early 1970s as the "baby bust" replaced the "baby boom." Still, with higher rates of participation in higher education, especially for women, enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions (including two-year colleges) increased by 16 percent between 1978 and 1988. From 1988 to 1998, enrollment increased another 11 percent from 13.1 million to 14.5 million, about three-quarters of which was in public institutions. In 1998 to 1999 there were 613 public degree-granting institutions with four-year programs and 1,730 degree-granting private institutions with four-year programs; total enrollment in these institutions with four-year programs was 9,034,062 of which one-third was private. Of those students in private institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 10 percent were enrolled in for-profit institutions (Table 171). Each state legislature has the final authority for establishing new four-year colleges, universities, and professional schools. In a majority of states, governing or coordinating bodies have key responsibilities and powers, including making public recommendations as to the establishment of new institutions or campuses. Indeed, legislatures often will not act without such a recommendation, although such a recommendation does not guarantee action. Governing and coordinating bodies also define the role and scope of each institution, provide the legislature with a master plan for higher education, and sometimes establish enrollment limits for existing institutions.

Community colleges, formerly referred to as junior colleges, absorbed much of the growth in higher education during the boom years and experienced an expansion of their mission when the decline in the age-cohort for transfer programs made the provision of career and vocationally oriented programs advantageous. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1998 to 1999 there were 1075 two-year public institutions and 652 two-year private colleges (Table 246). Total enrollment was 5,687,742, of which only 5 percent was private. More than 70 percent of the students in private institutions were enrolled in for-profit colleges. Local initiative is still the dominant force in the creation and expansion of community colleges and technical institutes; although in most cases state administrative agencies or coordinating bodies approve new plans and serve to link the institutions into a statewide network. Increasingly, at the behest of legislatures, governing boards and coordinating bodies for state colleges and universities have worked closely with their peer group for community colleges to improve the articulation between the two levels of high education. In some states, community college courses used for transfer purposes are specified explicitly and must be accepted by state universities so that students can plan their academic careers.

Local school districts. Reorganization of local school district structures, long a preoccupation of states, shifted direction in the 1990s from a focus on consolidation to the creation of a new a new form of local unit, the charter school. Looking back, between 1946 and 1966, thirty-eight states carried out major consolidation of school districts, a number made more impressive by noting that most Southern states have always operated on a county or parish basis. Between 1961 and 1968 alone, the number of districts declined from 37,000 to 22,860, the latter figure including 15,824 districts that enrolled fewer than 1800 pupils. The rate of decline has slowed: between 1989 to 1990 and 1997 to 1998, the number of districts declined from 15,367 to 14,805 including 10,508 with fewer than 2,500 enrollees. Although the number of districts with fewer than 2,500 decreased during the decade, the number of districts with more than 2500 students increased. Those having more than 25,000 students climbed in number from 179 to 230, according to National Center for Education Statistics (Table 88). Rapid urbanization brought structural problems at both ends of the scale: metropolitan areas outgrew the traditional districting principlea sophisticated urban center surrounded by more traditional rural areasas suburban district enrollment grew and both rural and urban centers declined, with the latter districts often inheriting the responsibility for a minority population that has never enjoyed adequate educational opportunities.

The creation of charter schools as an alternative to traditional local educational units began in Minnesota in 1991. California followed suit in 1992. By 1999 thirty-six states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia had passed charter legislation. Since 1994 the federal Department of Education has provided grants to support states' charter school efforts, from $6 million in fiscal year 1995, to $100 million in fiscal year 1999, when more than 1,700 charter schools were in operation. Of these, 58 percent were elementary schools, 20 percent secondary schools, and 22 percent included grades at both levels. Arizona, with more than 300, has the largest number of charters, followed by California (234), Michigan (more than 175), Texas (more than 150), and Florida (112).

Charter schools vary from state to state and are significantly influenced by legislation.

The laws cover seven areas: charter developmentwho may propose a charter, how charters are granted, the number of charter schools allowed, and related issues; school statushow the school is legally defined and related governance, operations, and liability issues; fiscalthe level and types of funding provided and the amount of fiscal independence and autonomy; studentshow schools are to address admissions, non-discrimination, special education, etc.; staffing and labor relationswhether the school may act as an employer, which labor relations laws apply, and other staff rights and privileges; instructionthe degree of control a school has over the development of its instructional goals and practices; accountabilitywhether the charter serves as a performance-based contract, how assessment methods are selected, and charter revocation and renewal issues (

In spite of quite radical actions by the states in the 1990s embodied in charter schools and district takeover legislation, state education agencies are not executive agents for reforming local district structures. The United States has held strongly to a tradition of local determination. When mandates are issued, they flow chiefly from legislative enactments. Laws fostering consolidation usually offer incentives to districts. On occasion, independent state commissions have been created to propose redistricting in a given territory but then accept locally originated counterproposals. Charter school laws typically require local initiatives to launch a school, thus reflecting the American tradition of local determination.

Redistricting is, in short, a political process and state education agencies move within limitations imposed by this fact, particularly because they represent the state while existing districts represent local control. Nevertheless, state education agencies exert influence over district structure, the amount of such influence varying between states. In many states, the agencies are supported by statutory discretionary power in applying those criteria. On occasion, they must enforce (that is, work out) new legislative mandates or are instructed, in effect, to promote the inducements to consolidate. State agencies may take the initiative and foster local action by using consultation and public advocacy or turn to de facto sanctions by strict application of state accreditation standards that are difficult for very small units to satisfy. A few state education agencies may undertake, usually upon request, surveys of district structure in a given territory and make recommendations based on these surveys to local authorities or interested citizens' groups. The greatest source of state agency influence lies in the reports and recommendations provided to state legislatures, study commissions, and other groups.

Curriculum and Instruction

State administrative agency influence on curriculum and instruction, including vocational education, is substantial at the elementary and secondary level and notable in some program areas in higher education.

Elementary, secondary, and vocational. In elementary and secondary education, including vocational education, state education agencies have statutory power to significantly influence what is taught in local school districts. Typically, the agencies are empowered to prescribe minimal course offerings and outline course content. They also establish standards for accrediting schools; many of these standards deal with the quality of curriculum and the results of teaching as measured by state-administered criterion-referenced tests. In 2000 to 2001, all but three states (Iowa, Montana, and Wisconsin) used such assessments aligned to state standards in English/language arts and mathematics; about half of the states also examined science and social studies/history. Although no state limits the offerings of local schools to those approved by the state education agency, prevailing practice is to await state outlines for new high school courses before they are introduced widely. Experiments with online education by private and public suppliers to public school student, charter school students, and those being home schooled are challenging agencies to develop new guidelines about what constitutes instruction for both academic and financial purposes.

In vocational education, state practices usually require state agency approval of the details of each offering before it becomes eligible for reimbursement from state and federal funds. In some cases, the state education agency may prescribe or approve uniform tests linked to certification, which can have an important influence on curricula. Through its administration of federal programs, the state agency becomes involved in program control. State education agencies also may have statutory authority over the adoption of textbooks, content of instructional broadcasts, and the selection of audiovisual and technological resources, including software, purchased with state funds. Upgrading school and school district communication and computing capacity both for administrative and instructional purposes is a focal point in most states.

The milieu in which state education agencies operate exerts pressure to reduce regulatory implementation of statutes to a minimal level. Constructive influence arises chiefly from their advisory, leadership, and developmental services for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The extent and quality of these services distinguish strong from weak education agencies. In the 1960s, before the Great Society initiative, state education agencies were primarily concerned with assisting small and high-need districts. Between 1965 and the Nation at Risk report in 1983, state agencies created developmental services to build local capacity across their states. Since 1983, pushed by governors, state legislatures, and the federal government, they have assumed a central role in translating national aspirations into effective programs at the local level.

Capacity building services include in-service education for teachers, statewide curriculum improvement studies and implementation, demonstration projects, and the compilation and provision of curriculum and methodological guides. Some agencies undertake vigorous promotion of certain curriculum reforms, enlisting the services of colleges, universities, and private providers. The power of the agency to specify curriculum may be used to create committees of expert teachers to formulate course guides. Several states have initiated Internet-based curriculum guides with linked resources and are experimenting with online testing in the classroom using central databanks of test items. Major information system and textbook companies play an active role in both testing programs and development of online capabilities.

These examples illustrate an important generalization: the role of the state education agency in the instructional realm is primarily that of persuader. The local school district, in most cases, is the final arbiter of the quality of instruction. In only exceptional cases will the state agency turn from persuading its way into the local district toward dictating to a district that which will be done. For assessments, however, they have been given the authority by both state and federal law to insist that districts measure and report on the progress of students.

Higher education. For institutions of higher education, no state administrative agencies carry out curriculum and instruction functions comparable to those that state education agencies perform for K12 schooling. Some coordinating agencies have the authority to approve or disapprove specializations offered for degrees and have veto powers over new courses. These powers are aimed primarily at diminishing the proliferation of courses and the overlap of programs among institutions rather than developing course content, although in attempts to increase articulation between community colleges and universities some states have become quite directive. Statutes in coordinating-board (vs. governing board) states normally allow persuasive approaches including setting criteria and insisting on accountability. Indeed, state legislatures during the 1990s bolstered their power to do so.

Local Unit Personnel

Selection, retention, advancement, and dismissal of personnel are jealously guarded prerogatives of the local units. Yet these crucial decisions are constrained by statutory prescriptions and by ministerial actions of state administrative agencies. Statutes and legislative appropriations have much to do with the salaries that local units can offer and hence with these units' ability to attract recruits. Statutes frequently govern the contract provisions regarding teachers: conditions of tenure, fringe benefits including pensions, and the status of collective bargaining between employee organizations and governing boards particularly as they relate to working conditions (i.e., class size, hours of instruction, etc.). Statutes and court rulings limit the pupil-disciplinary actions of school officials, sometimes leading to employee dissatisfaction. Inadequate district revenue, sometimes caused by state funding regulations, and difficult social environments can result in school conditions that make it almost impossible to staff particular schools with certificated professionals. All states require state-issued licenses for teachers and other professional workers in the school systems. To implement and enforce these statutes, all states delegate some authority to state education agencies; some states delegate this authority to commissions that maintain records and adjudicate problems related to licensure.

State licensure is rare in higher education, applicable in a few instances to community college personnel. Tenure is seldom a subject of specific state statutes, although administrative law and court rulings sustain the necessity for due process in dismissals. A state-coordinating agency for higher education may suggest uniform guarantees of academic freedom and tenure. In some cases, state labor legislation may facilitate collective bargaining by faculty in public postsecondary institutions. Coordinating agencies may also specify average salary levels in state-supported institutions and earned-degree status expected of faculty members. Most personnel matters, however, are within the jurisdiction of institutional (or multiunit system) governing boards.

Licensure Requirements

State education agencies exercise the greatest influence over local school district personnel through licensure of professional workers. States vary widely in the amount of discretionary leeway that is accorded to state education agencies. Some are very specific and others merely authorize the state education agency to design and implement a suitable certification framework. Most states fall between these two extremes although the trend during the 1990s was toward greater specification and concern about quality. The NASDTEC Manual on the Preparation and Certification of Educational Personnel for the Year 2000, published by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, classifies state requirements in seven areas: broad academic study; assessment; ancillary and special education; general education; professional preparation; student teaching; and subject matter endorsement. All states mandate a bachelor's degree, subject matter study, and pedagogical study for entry-level teachers. Most states require examinations of basic skills, subject matter knowledge, and teaching knowledge examination for initial licensure. About one-third also require and assessment of teaching performance. All states have emergency routes through which districts can employ persons not qualified for standard certification and alternative preparation programs to expedite the entry of new teachers to the profession. State officials have considerable autonomy in establishing standard patterns for educational qualifications, but they also interpret whether standards are actually met. To local unit officials, some state agencies appear bound to the letter of the regulations while others are quite liberal in their interpretations, focusing on the broad intent of the regulations. In most cases, what is being licensed is a college transcript, not an individual; licensure is a mass-production enterprise. An alternative approach, developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, certifies individual teachers; the board reports that forty-seven states offer inducements for individual teachers who already hold state licensure to gain National Board Certification.

State education agencies' licensure of teachers requires effective working relationships with the state colleges and universities that provide teacher education programs. The universal approach taken is the approval of institutions by a state agency based on one or more sets of standards. The state education agency establishes criteria for the approval of institutions offering programs for educators and for the approval of each program designed to qualify students for a given type of certificate or license. Advisory groups of nonagency personnel often formulate criteria. More than two-thirds of the states have formally or informally adopted one or more of regional accrediting standards or standards promulgated by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or by NASDTEC. Standards have become increasingly performance based. NCATE standards emphasize six areas: candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions; assessment system and unit evaluation; field experiences and clinical practice; diversity; faculty qualifications, performance, and development; and unit governance and resources. Once an institution and its curricula are approvedtypically for a five-year periodthe institution merely certifies to the state agency that a given individual has satisfactorily completed an approved program and is recommended by the institution for licensure. The legal credential is then issued by the state education agency, usually for a given term subject to recertification requirements such as the completion of additional approved professional development courses.

The institutional approval process places the state education agency in at least a semi-accreditation role with respect to colleges and universities, private as well as public, and make for a degree of uniformity among teacher preparation programs. In the past, critics contended this approach placed too much faith in the integrity of individual colleges to prepare teachers properly, by making higher education institutionsnot school systems and professional practitionersthe arbiters of personnel qualifications for teachers. Over-reliance on course work was also faulted. The emergence of performance testing as part of the qualification process and more formal standards managed by national bodies, often with the support of federal funds, reflect credence given to these critics. Although there is growing accountability for teaching certification to and the direction to agencies outside of state education agencies, state agencies nevertheless maintain a legal monopoly on the function.

Administration in Local Units

Decisions and executive actions made within local units form the administrative core of American education, despite the steady trend toward nationalization of the educational endeavor. States direct local units to make many decisions through statutory law and traditions and yet influence those decisions and actions through the behavior of their state administrative agencies. Federal funding regulations, court decisions, and collective agreements similarly affect local choices by proscribing and prescribing available options. Although waivers may be available to promote or permit local experimentation and charter schools allow an alternative to traditional public schools, these initiatives operate at the margin.

Within institutions of higher education, state administrative agencies offer minimal levels of consultation and personal advice to influence decisions or executive actions of administrators. Nevertheless, recommendations made by such agencies may have considerable influence, as in the case of the prescribed form and content for fiscal appropriation requests that can affect policies on teaching loads or the emphasis accorded research activities. Reports, especially comparative ones, also influence local polices and procedures. Comparative analyses of institutions across a state or of comparable institutions in other states are standard instruments to argue for the need of additional resources, new programs, and the like. Concern about a potential shortage of qualified teachers between 2000 and 2010 as teachers from the baby boom generation retire and as enrollments increase has encouraged states to advise their colleges and universities to respond accordingly.

State agency regulations also influence administrative decisions by local school districts. As well, the agencies operate an array of consultative and instructional services in such areas as school transportation, fiscal accounting, school law, purchasing procedures, schoolplant planning and construction, and information system development and operation. When new issues arise or new programs are introduced, agencies will often initiate systematic dissemination projects, often in partnership with professional associations or postsecondary institutions, to assist local units in responding appropriately. Management services and policy advice, however, are in most cases minimal.

Appeals of administrative decisions within local school districts may be made to the commissioner of education in most states. Quasi-judicial hearings are conducted on such matters as the dismissal of an employee, boundaries of school attendance areas, and allegations of impropriety in the award of contracts. Aggrieved parties also have access to the courts, although until established routes of appeal within the educational system have been exhausted, courts generally will not accept pleas. They may also turn to the state attorney general on debatable points of law, although they must first seek resolution through the office of the commissioner of education. In a number of states, issues related to collective bargaining legislation for teachers are the responsibility of a special agency that may invoke various means of dispute resolution.

Informing and Planning

State education agencies and coordinating bodies for higher education can be treated together as far as informing and planning is concerned. Statutes typically empower these agencies to collect and interpret data to monitor the operations of the total state educational system. Data are used to inform the public, school officials, and governmental authorities about a variety of inputs, processes and outputs. According to statutes, information collected should be used to appraise the results of education, the effectiveness of present arrangements, and the effects of legislative and educational strategies. Simultaneously, research conducted or commissioned by the agencies is used to suggest alternative educational means and to identify emerging demands upon and new challenges to the state's system. Ultimately, agencies propose recommendations for immediate and long-term plans to improved educational arrangements throughout the state.

Measured against such expectations, few state agencies perform adequately, in part because of scarce resources and political complexity. Data collection and statistical reporting, rather than elaborate master plans substantiated by sound research, are their forte. More often, a government commission or task force operating with adequate funds and substantial political capital will fill the breach, although federal planning grants also stimulate development of strategic initiatives.

Private Institutions

Some state administrative agencies charter privately incorporated institutions for education although the requirements to receive a charter vary widely in prescriptiveness. Private institutions need not seek accreditation, but most secondary and postsecondary institutions do so, thereby subjecting themselves to the same state agency influences as public institutions. The same situation pertains to approvals for teacher education and certification. State agencies also subject private institutions to enforcement of fire and other safety statutes. To benefit from many federal programs, private institutions accept the influence of those agencies with respect to fiscal accountability and program performance.

As private elementary and secondary institutions enter into agreements for cooperative instruction with public schools, state education agencies become more important in their affairs. The provision of vouchers that allow students in low-performing public schools to transfer to private schools may also bring involvement of a state agency. A number of states have statutes and appropriations permitting the state to purchase educational services from private colleges and universities; the state agency administering such provisions quite naturally exerts considerable influence upon the recipients. State-provided scholarships to students attending private institutions can also result in a state monitoring, if not supervising. Thus, private institutions are rarely as independent of the state as popularly believed.

Intermediate Units

Between the state and the individual school district are administrative units, which incorporate a number of school districts. Although county boards of education have provided this function in some states, in others regional services agencies have been created. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, Texas created Educational Service Centers for each of twenty regions, Pennsylvania created Intermediate Units, and New York formed Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). These entities have as their primary purpose the support of local school districts and the reduction of service redundancy to take advantage of economies of scale. Intermediate unit employees are simultaneously vendors, service providers, grant writers, financial and management specialists, researchers, advisers, advocates, and facilitators. Typical programs and service offered include adult education, cooperative projects, curriculum services, educational technology and media, psychological services, and the operation of regional special education and vocational schools.

These units are not, strictly speaking, branches of the state education agencies, but neither are they agents of local districts. Typically, they stand as district-controlled but state-allied agencies for connecting local districts with changing approaches to education. As an alternative to school district consolidation, they appear to have become established as a permanent fixture in many states. Although some speculated that they might evolve into the major planning units for educational services and gain strong financial support and ministerial authority, this has not been the case.

Context of State Agency Actions

To understand state administrative agency influence upon educational practice, at least four features of the context in which they operate should be noted.

First, in most states, state education agencies do not establish policy or develop procedures to be followed. Both of these critical functions come about through extensive participation of non-agency personslocal district employees, college and university personnel, citizen panels, outside consultants, and political staff in the executive and legislative branches. Non-agency committees frequently possess almost autonomous jurisdiction over certain mattersselection of state-approved textbooks or approval of new school construction, for example. Committees, sometimes including several hundred individuals, write state curriculum guides. Until the 1980s and 1990s, with the push to align state standards with assessment and teacher preparation, there were few administrative regulations that did not bear the imprint of local unit administrators serving as advisers.

Moreover, vast networks of influential groups and individuals surround state administrative agencies, just as they do state legislatures. Professional organizations, parent associations, special-interest groups, combinations of local units seeking fair treatment, legislators speaking on behalf of constituents, and private enterprises with a stake in decisions and regulations all lobby to obtain their goals. To conclude that the involvement of so many viewpoints and competing influences weakens the quality of state administrative agency decisions would be erroneous, however. Simply put, state agencies are not clusters of individuals concocting directives and plans in Olympian fashion to be imposed on the state educational system.

Second, state statutes reflect, to a marked degree, the principle of plaguing power with power. In very few domains is there a clear distinction between the authority of state agencies and the authority of local units. Statutory delegations are typically broad and vague; often, both parties can justly claims primary jurisdiction. For example, the question might arise as to whether the state agency has the right to determine who can serve as a counselor in a high school. The local unit can cite jurisdiction over student affairs; the state agency can say its power to accredit implies the power to specify who does what in a school. Or, the power of the governing board of a postsecondary institution to adopt an operating budget and the power of a state agency for higher education to approve budgets can conflict over an attempt to expand a local department of engineering to include optical engineering if the state agency does not think this content should be offered by that institution. It is a truism of administrative science that any agency tends to increase its field of jurisdiction and, in so doing, comes into conflict with the jurisdictions claimed by other agencies. Evaluating the work of state administrative agencies for education must take this constant tension into account.

Third, state administrative agencies develop reputations over long periods of time. Prevailing images of them vary tremendously from state to state. One agency may be viewed as competent, judicious, flexible, and the source of constructive influence; another may be seen as a regulatory body interested only in bureaucratic formalities; and a third as a minor bureau concerned with minutiae and processing paper. Deserved or not, these images persist and largely determine whether the state's political actions will be favorable toward the education agency, thereby affecting the roles of state agencies in relation to local units. Although history indicates that image transformations tend to occur very slowly, on occasion some states have dramatically transformed state education agencies almost overnight, reorganizing them and changing mandates in order to pursue state goals more effectively.

Fourth, the size and quality of staff in state administrative agencies have more to do with the agencies' influence than perhaps any other factor. Highly qualified staff with significant professional attainment, if placed in strategic positions to formulate policy, plan, and help to build local capacity, succeed where others would fail. With few exceptions, states do not provide attractive positions with the appropriate remuneration required to attract the best educational talent. Local units provide higher salaries, better fringe benefits, and the like, making it possible for them to lure promising individuals away from state agencies. State civil service classification systems often thwart efforts to obtain specialists and limit opportunities for advancement. Although federal funds and the increased attention paid to education by governors and legislatures have infused new talent into state education agencies, this talent often is clustered in special units dedicated to a particular programmatic activity, fragmenting rather than unifying the agency. Nevertheless, because of their role in assessment and quality improvement initiatives, most state education agencies are far more central to the unfolding drama of public education in 2002 than they were in 1965, in large part due to national aspirations fostered by federal initiatives.

See also: Financial Support of Schools, subentry on State Support; School Boards; State Departments of Education; State Educational Systems; Testing, subentry on Statewide Testing Programs.


Education Commission of the States. 1999. Governing America's Schools: Changing the Rules. Report of the National Commission on Governing America's Schools. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. 2002. Backgrounder. Arlington, VA: National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

National Center for Education Statistics. 2002. The Digest of Education Statistics: 2000. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

National Commission on Excellence in Education. 1983. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. Washington, DC: National Commission on Excellence in Education.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. 2002. Professional Standards for the Accreditation of Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education. Washington, DC: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Timar, Thomas, and Tyack, David. 1999. The Invisible Hand of Ideology: Perspectives from the History of School Governance. Denver, CO: Education Commission of the States.

internet resources

Education Commission of the States. 2002. "ECS Tools and Resources: K12 Governance Structures Database." <>.

Internal Revenue Service. 2002. "Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Sub-chapter F, Part VIII, Sec. 529: Qualified State Tuition Programs." <>.

Knott, Jack H., and Payne, A. Abigail. 2001. "The Impact of State Governance Structures on Higher Education Resources and Research Activity." <>.

National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.2001. "The NASDTEC Manual on the Preparation and Certification of Educational Personnel for the Year 2000," 5th edition. <>. 2002. "Overview of Charter Schools." <>.

Stephen B. Lawton


Education is legally a responsibility of state government in the United States. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states respectively or to the people." Because the Constitution does not specifically mention education, this amendment serves as the legal basis for the historical evolution of education as a state function.

The New Context

For most of the nation's history, the states have exercised these responsibilities gingerly and have been a weak link in the federal system. It was not until the late twentieth century that the states have begun to proactively exercise their powerful legal responsibilities and great reservoir of unused power in the field of education. Most states, in congruence with the historical norms of local control of education, have traditionally delegated much of the operational responsibility for schools to local boards of education.

This pattern of unaggressive state leadership changed dramatically in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Public education without question has become the nation's most salient domestic public policy issue. The country's influential business and political leadership (on a bipartisan basis) have become engaged in unprecedented ways in implementing their commitment to improved public education. Presidents, governors, corporate CEOs, and state and federal legislators all proclaim the need for high standards and academic achievement for all children. This laser-like concern for and focus upon education has elicited escalating public demands and political pressure for the states to focus and discharge their legal responsibilities to improve the quality of education.

The Role of State Boards

State boards of education along with governors, legislatures, and state education agencies are integral components of the state policy system. State boards, which exist in all but two states (Minnesota and Wisconsin are the exceptions), are agencies with major general responsibilities for the development and management of public education within each state. Typically, the state board of education governs the state education department or agency. Although state boards have only recently become influential entities in a number of states, the aforementioned pressures to improve education will inevitably make them more visible and significant players in all jurisdictions.


There is enormous variety among the forty-eight states that have approximately 500 citizens serving on state boards of education. As Table 1 indicates, the states have numerous and wide variations in the manner in which members are selected, the size of their boards, and the length of terms of office.

Thirty state boards are appointed by governors subject to legislative approval in six states. Ten states elect their state boards: six on partisan and four on nonpartisan ballots. State boards are appointed by the legislature in three states (New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina). In four states (Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Ohio) the state boards comprise both elected and appointed members. In Washington State, the state board consists of nine members elected by local school board members and one member elected by private schools.

The number of voting state board members also varies from a low of seven (in nine states) to twenty-one in Pennsylvania. There are thirty-eight states with seven to eleven members serving. Twelve states have a nine-member board, ten states have an eleven-member board, and nine states have seven member boards. These seven-, nine-, and eleven-member boards are the most prevalent in the nation.

The length of term of office for state board members likewise varies across the country. The term of office ranges from three years to nine years, the most common term by far being four years (in twenty-two states) and six years (in eleven states). The overwhelming number of states have statutes that require overlapping terms. Special provisions or unique features of state boards abound from state to state with infinite variety. For example, in Alabama the governor presides as president of the board. In Delaware, two of the seven state board members must have experience as local board members. In Indiana, four of the eleven members must be professional educators. In New Jersey, three of the thirteen members must be women. In Washington State, the chief state school officer can vote only to break ties. More generic or common provisions mandate residency requirements for board members and the exclusion of educators from board service in a number of states.

In the late twentieth century there was a trend toward more student participation on state boards. As Table 1 reflects, five states have students as voting members of the board and an additional five states have students as nonvoting members. This reflects the growing voice of students as testing and related policy issues come to the forefront. Table 1 also reinforces the wide structural and operational diversity that characterizes state boards with forty-eight boards having "unique features" and thirty-eight earning "special notes" to distinguish them from their counterparts.






Basic Responsibilities

Although state legislatures have the ultimate legal authority for determining educational policy, a number of specific legal responsibilities have been delegated to state boards and are commonly shared. State boards generally serve as representatives of the larger public in conceptualizing and formulating the mission of the schools, and exercising overall leadership responsibility in the following areas:

  • Standards setting
  • Accreditation of state education programs
  • Teacher and administrator certification
  • Review of state education department budgets
  • Promulgation of graduation requirements
  • Development and implementation of state testing and assessment programs

The historical role of most state boards had been the articulation of rules and regulations that mandated only minimum standards with regard to matters such as subjects to be included in the curriculum, school construction, and school bus safety. This relatively passive role of state boards has changed with the advent of the standards movement.

The power state boards have to appoint the chief state school officers in twenty-five states (gubernatorial approval is required in two jurisdictions) may represent their most important responsibility. It is the state education agency that customarily staffs state boards. The chief thus is in a pivotal position to control the staff, agenda setting, and information flow through his or her authority as the line leader of the state education agency. As a full-time educator with the requisite professional standing and expertise, the chief is in the best position to determine whether state board policies are successfully designed and implemented.

State Boards and the New Politics of Education

As the nation's influential business and political leaders have asserted leadership in the education reform movement, the former, relatively closed, system of decision-making dominated by education groups has been opened to new players at all governmental levels. At the state level, governors, corporate leaders, legislators and governors' education aides, for example, frequently have become the drivers of policy changes preempting the traditional prerogatives of chief state school officers, and state education agencies as well as state boards.

This "new politics of education" and its attendant focus upon education reform have made state boards somewhat more visible or (at least) less invisible. As education has become a more significant policy concern at the state level, more attention is being paid to the caliber and influence of state board members. A governor appointing a state board member in the current environment is less likely to view the selection process as a midlevel patronage matter. The trend is toward designating influential higher status appointees who can move the governor's substantive agenda on increasingly visible and politically important education issues such as testing and accountability. In the past, governors would rarely interfere with the deliberations of their appointees and commonly took a "hands-off" posture on the relatively mundane issues that were on the agendas of the state board. This has changed dramatically at the start of the twenty-first century as the political stakes have escalated on education issues and growing numbers of state board members have moved into the mainstream of state politics.

These developments have been a mixed blessing for appointed state board members. The visibility and increased status of board members has certainly been a very positive development; on the other hand, board members are often less politically independent and not infrequently are viewed as being not civic leaders promoting education improvement but political agents of the governor.

As the standards movement has emerged as the often-controversial cornerstone of education reform, state board members have become much more publicly visible and engaged in highly volatile and complex issues such as testing and accountability. They have been far less insulated from state politics and in many cases have become influential participants in the ongoing policy debates about standards, assessments, and accountability. Many state board members likewise have become less parochial and currently are involved in national discussions as well as issues in their own states. There is, for example, keen interest among state board members in the possible fiscal and political implications of President George W. Bush's federal educational program on state powers and responsibilities.

In jurisdictions that elect their state board members the political dynamics are, of course, quite different. Elected officials understandably depend upon various special interest groups whose political power and financial resources can swing elections. State board elections, like their counterparts at the local level, do not customarily attract large voter turnouts. Indeed, candidates for state boards commonly are little known to the public. This provides organized interest groups with inordinate influence in state board elections. In other words, small core groups readily can control the composition of boards in elective states that provide very fertile ground for organized special interest groups to dominate the election process.

Changing Dynamics

The changing state politics of education has caused new sets of relationships among the several components of the state policy system. The new transcendency of education and the opening up of the once relatively closed policymaking system to business and political leaders has changed the relationship of state board members to other participants in the state policysetting process in significant ways. As school issues have become more embroiled in the political mainstream, chief state school officers, for example, have become more pleased to have influential state board members serve as buffers. In essence, many politically well-connected board members currently are positioned to provide valuable political cover for pressured appointed chiefs. On the other hand, in states in which chiefs are elected and have their own independent political base they can be more dismissive of their boards and in some cases even totally ignore them.

The recent visibility and political involvement of state board members have created new forms of pressure upon these formerly relatively obscure state officials. Early-twenty-first-century appointees are more likely to be very busy high-powered successful business and civic leaders who do not have the time to serve extended terms on state boards. As a result of growing turnover, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) estimates that the average tenure of its members has decreased from twelve to six years. Highly volatile struggles over the testing issue in states like Virginia and Massachusetts and the bitter struggle over evolution in Kansas reflect only a few examples of the conflicts that have engulfed board members in states where members are both appointed and elected. These highly controversial issues, not surprisingly, have attracted escalating media interest. The saliency of school issues at the state level has triggered the growth of coverage of state boards by a much more sophisticated and knowledgeable media corps.

Pivotal Role of Governors

The nation's governors see education as a "hot" issue, and as a result, all want to be viewed as "Education Governors." Whether they are Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative, all governors are cognizant of the political rewards of being viewed as a proponent or supporter of education reform and improvement. These chief executives, of course, are the pivotal players in determining education policy in the states. State boards have not only been profoundly affected by the quality of gubernatorial appointments but they also have been influenced in states (where board members are elected as well as appointed) by more vigorous efforts of their governors to consolidate their power to determine and shape educational policy.

In their efforts to build a more diverse base of support for their policies, governors in many states have appointed broadly based influential commissions, roundtables, and/or advisory bodies to make recommendations about complex, controversial state-policy issues such as finance, teacher quality, standards, governance, and accountability. Issues such as these logically should be within the purview of the policysetting responsibilities of state boards. In essence, these gubernatorial or, on occasion, legislatively appointed entities are making recommendations that legally should be promulgated under the aegis of state boards. This not uncommon utilization of commissions and analogous groups certainly clouds and dilutes the authority of state boards. Governors, of course, view such entities as a means through which they can not only broaden support for desired policies but also buffer themselves from state boards that because of overlapping terms or turnover may not be politically responsive to their programs and not as controllable as time-limited commissions.

The recent increase in gubernatorial authority has been paralleled quite logically by the escalating influence of governors' aides in the state education policymaking process. These aides, while often young and not particularly experienced in education issues, usually are politically savvy and well connected. Many have served as campaign aides to their governors and "have their ear" in special or unique ways. Their influence, while often unacknowledged, can hardly be underestimated as loyal and trusted confidants to the chief executives.

The Future

In the early twenty-first century, one can predict with much confidence that state boards will continue their climb out of obscurity in the years ahead. State board members will be increasingly visible and more influential public figures. Governors and the electorate will seek to have more business or private sector types serve on these bodies because they bring different and needed knowledge and understanding of budgets, management, and the changing demographics that are so profoundly reshaping U.S. society. The demographic revolution increasingly will reconfigure the composition of state boards with the inevitable designation of many more Hispanic Americans and citizens of color to serve.

State boards will continue to be under pressure to assume a more aggressive leadership role. They will be expected to provide guidance and advocacy in this enlarged leadership role. They must be more effective and "out front" mobilizers of public and community support for the school enterprise. They also must reach out as lay leaders in the mobilization of the coalitions that will be essential in the more participatory and complicated state educational politics of the future.

See also: School Boards; States and Education, subentry on State Governments in Higher Education; State Departments of Education; State Educational Systems.

Michael D. Usdan


As Paul E. Peterson states, studying higher education as an organization is challenging because the locus of control has changed. Higher education institutions have for most of their histories been governed by a sense of internal control with authority largely falling to the faculty and administration of the single institution. These institutions represent professional bureaucracies in which faculty seek control of their work and also solicit a voice in the decisions affecting their lives. In comparison to the more common machine bureaucracy form of business and industry, these professional networks are based upon mutual respect and dedication to the community. This rare form of organizational structure and control causes particular stress to elected officials accustomed to looking to profits for measures of success.

History of Local Control

Defining autonomy as "the power to govern without outside controls" and accountability as "the requirement to demonstrate responsible actions," Robert Berdahl posits that each side should realize that a balance is ideal (p. 38). Paula Sabloff characterizes the struggle between autonomy and accountability as inevitable and as a future force in higher education concerns. She argues that the relationship between state government and the institutions has always been involved in a debate between autonomy versus accountability. Throughout the last half of the twentieth century, regulations increased that inevitably stripped away institutional rights to govern themselves. Legislative members have increased their staff numbers and devoted themselves to much more of a year-round schedule of activities. The establishment of legislative standing committees has combined with governing and coordinating boards to create a constant regulatory environment for the individual campuses. Though higher education may not get caught up in partisan politics to the extent that other areas of government have, it is constantly part of a political process.

Higher Education and the Economy

In the 1980s economic development strategies shifted from the issues of labor, land, and taxes to a focus on investments in human resources and research. Economic and social viability is increasingly linked to "what you know" as much as they are to "what you do." In a 1998 report released by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the national job market was predicted to grow by 18.6 million positions between 1996 and 2006. Service industries were predicted to outpace the growth of goods-producing industries as a more knowledge-based economy replaces a skill dependent system. For the early twenty-first century, the report forecasts that jobs in professional specialties, such as business and health care, will supplant manufacturing and production in driving economic growth. Because of this new focus on human capital, public and private spending on education and training must be viewed as investments rather than consumptive costs, and a premium must be placed on lifelong learning.

Social scientists, such as Manuel Justiz in 1994, have pointed out that the radical demographic shifts being faced in America are prompting change more dramatically than government policy has ever done. The importance of access to and diversity of participation in higher education is acknowledged because of the rapid developments in technology and changing workforce needs. In a report developed by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the public and private benefits of going to college were distilled into four categories: (1) individual economic benefits; (2) public economic benefits; (3) individual social benefits; and (4) public social benefits.

State legislatures are much more specialized and informed at the beginning of the twenty-first century than they have been in the past and they continue to increase their involvement in higher education planning. Because of the myriad of benefits to be gained through a high quality higher education system, the stakes have been raised regarding cooperation between business interests, state government, and campus expertise. The public and private benefits associated with an increase in educational participation and attainment support the argument that a greater emphasis must be placed on an educated citizenry. As the global economy has put a premium on knowledge capital rather than manufacturing skills, employers and government officials are demanding a higher education of the work force than ever before.

Shift in Control

The postwar baby boom and explosion of higher education the 1960s led to the increased desire of state leaders to acquire more control of higher education matters. During that time of growth, states created many of the coordinating and governing boards that exist in the early twenty-first century. Although originally created to bring order and accountability to higher education, in some instances the boards have been allowed by the states to "become the centerpiece of top-level patronage politics and public score settling" (Graham, p. 93). Modeled primarily after the boards of trustees that have traditionally led private institutions, governing and coordinating boards have become permanent fixtures on the higher education map. Approximately 65 percent of students attend postsecondary schools that are a part of a multicampus system. As of 2000, state higher education structures basically fell into three categories: consolidated governing board systems, coordinating board systems, and planning agency systems. Under consolidated governing board systems, governance is centralized in one or two governing boards. Twenty-four states operate under this model. Coordinating board systems are also found in twenty-four states and provide for a liaison board between state government and the governing boards of individual institutions. Planning agency structures are only found in Delaware and Michigan. These agencies coordinate communication and planning with little direct authority over the institutions or their governing boards.

According to Peterson, around the mid-1970s institutions became much more aware of the growing external forces that were less controlled and much less understood by the general campus community. It was at this time that governing boards and publicly elected officials began exercising greater authority in the name of accountability. In the 1980s governors and legislators began seeking even more control over institutions through quality initiatives. Governors and legislators began expecting these higher education boards to exercise firm control of the institutions rather than working as advocates for them. As a result of giving new responsibilities and authority to the governing and coordinating boards, more opportunities for friction with the campus were created. Until this shift, faculty had a much more successful role in academic governance because local leadership largely shaped the control and mission of campuses. In order for shared governance to exist on a campus, it must be based on some level of commitment to coordination between faculty desires, campus interests and state-level concerns.

Higher education is one of many sectors of state government vying for increased funding during a time when more is expected of many areas of government. As far back as the early 1970s, higher education was predicted to fall in line with other divisions of state government in having to fight for their piece of dwindling state resources. Governing and coordinating boards grew out of state government's desire for a rational system of postsecondary education delivery. Set up to deal with the interests of the day, those interests have shifted over time, and the struggle between centralization and decentralization has grown.

Increases in demand for public services fueled the growth in state expenditures in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Charles Bonser, Eugene McGregor, and Clinton Oster stated in 1996 that some of the reasons for the increase in demands on state coffers are demographic changes, growing populations, income growth, income redistribution, and risk aversion. Michael Mills pointed to rapid pace of change faced by higher education in such areas as information technology, restricted funding, expansions in the economy, and multiple stakeholders as the driving forces behind challenges facing higher education and other public sectors.

State Finance

State governments currently fund higher education through combinations of three principal budget toolsincremental funding, formula funding, and performance funding. Incremental funding assumes that services in one year will continue to the next year and as a result a previous year's budget will be used for the following year. Currently, forty of the fifty states and the District of Columbia use incremental funding as their primary method of funding. Formula funding uses quantitative factors to determine the needs of each institution. Currently ten states use formula funding as their principle model. Incidentally, sixteen of the forty states using incremental models rely upon some version of formula funding to inform their budget decisions. Performance funding relies upon incentives to tie accountability and performance to state allocations.

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a shift nationwide in the sources of support for higher education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the public higher education revenue attributed to state government funds increased by 125 percent from 1980 to 1996. During this time period tuition and fees increased by 318 percent. Increasing at three times the rate of state appropriations, tuition and fees have become the primary mechanism for meeting higher education's need for improvement dollars. Between 1980 and 1996, institutions looked to private sources and endowment returns for budget balancing mechanisms. Revenue attributed to private sources increased 363 percent from 1980 to 1996, and endowment income increased by 236 percent.

The Illinois State University's Grapevine Database of state higher educational funding data stated that higher education was given nearly $61 billion by state governments in fiscal year 2000 through 2001. The state with the largest appropriation was California at just over $9 billion; the lowest was Vermont at just under $68 million. Of course adjustments must be made for population in comparing the effort of each state toward higher education expenses. On a per capita basis, Mississippi ranked first in appropriations of tax funds to higher education ($313 per capita) and New Hampshire ranked fiftieth ($81 per capita).

As mentioned earlier, states increasingly relied upon tuition and fees to provide necessary improvement dollars to universities and colleges in the 1990s. Nationally, states increased resident under-graduate tuition and required fees by 19 percent between the years of 1997 and 2001 alone, according to the Washington State Higher Education Board. States vary in terms of total required fees per resident participating in higher education. For flagship universities, New Hampshire charged the highest of any state in 2000 ($7,395) and Nevada charged the lowest ($2,220). For comprehensive colleges and universities, New Jersey led the nation ($5,328) and California charged the least ($1,859). Community colleges also vary in terms of fees as New Hampshire charged almost double that of any other state ($4,114) while California charged the least ($330).

The large increases in tuition and fees during the 1990s have been tempered with sizable commitments to state-level grant and aid programs. Annual need-and merit-based aid increased from a national average of $45 million in 1992 though 1993 to $67 million in 1998 through 1999, according to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. Nationally, aid dollars per resident aged 18 to 24 stood at $118 and aid per undergraduate full-time equivalency (FTE) stood at $397.

Governance Issues

As noted earlier, higher education governance has undergone a dynamic shift in its locus of control since the mid-twentieth century. Once governed locally by faculty and ceremonially by governing boards, many campuses now find themselves subject to heightened scrutiny at the state-level and in many cases under direct control by state government bodies. Governing and coordinating boards are now found in all fifty states, as governments have found it necessary to establish professional bodies to direct and shape the growing systems of higher education. The relationships between these boards and the institutions have been further strained by the increasing involvement of elected officials in daily activities of the campuses. Elected officials have looked to the boards as a vehicle for delegated powers with intervention always an option if lawmakers deem it necessary. The pressure has then fallen to the campuses as presidents feel torn between the business perspective of board members and the established faculty culture, and the educational planning process is continually influenced by partisan politics.

An Association of Governing Boards study revealed in 1999 that most political leaders wanted strong and effective boards, but felt that intervention was needed. Most governing board members take their responsibilities seriously, but too many political obstacles stand in their way. Among legislative leaders there is strong support for governance by lay board members, but concerns abound for the current performance of these groups. Key findings noted by the Association of Governing Boards were placed into three categories: serving public interest, negotiation of the political environment, and increasing board responsiveness. In another study of governance developments, Frank Bowen and colleagues found that state boards that are both part of higher education and part of state government are more successful at balancing public interests and institutional concerns than solely institutional governing boards.

Aims McGuinness spoke further in 1997 of this critical role between postsecondary structures and overall governmental and economic system demands. He cited instability of state leadership, ambiguous missions, and growing political controls as the factors hindering optimum effectiveness. With massive turnover in federal and state government elections in 1994, the instability of leadership in state government had a great impact on the turnover of commission members and trustees in the late 1990s. Sabloff also discussed the political transformation that state governments have gone through since the 1980s. She pointed to year-round activities, increased staff, career politicians, increasing education levels of officials, and standing committees as evidence of a changing system of governance over all state programs and services. State government is experiencing what has been called at the federal level a professionalization of the legislative body. Higher education officials and scholars have been forced to adjust to the increasing activities and involvement. As noted in Lawrence Marcus's 1997 study of higher education governance restructuring, when relationships between government and higher education systems become more strained, the likelihood of government becoming more involved increases.

A proliferation of state-level advisory commissions established to study the issue of higher education governance and policy reform has occurred in the last decade. Since 1990 an estimated twenty-one states have established state-level governmental advisory groups with similar charges of improving higher education. Whether as a sensible policy development tool or as the latest fad in government, these commissionsdrawn primarily from elected leaders, top higher education officials, and politically-connected citizensshaped much of the public policy debate surrounding higher education in the 1990s.

Though executive advisory councils or "blue-ribbon commissions" are nothing new to state higher education policymaking, the 1990s saw an unusually high number of such bodies. In his descriptive study of the activities of twenty-one states, Mills defines these higher education policy entities as "specially constituted groups with a majority of its members from outside the higher education system and a broad charge allowing them to take a comprehensive look at the structure and operation of all public higher education in the state" (p. 3). Though these entities are not the only planning mechanisms in higher education, they do "claim an atmosphere where independent citizens can work along with higher education and government representatives to deal with problems and policy issues"(p. 3).

Mills found concerns about higher education's role in the state economy and desires for more accountability to be the dominant problems addressed in the reports of twenty-one states' executive advisory commissions. It is no surprise to find that the concerns revolve around structural and economic recommendations, since competitiveness, efficiency, and specialization are dominant themes of the corporate and rational models of planning used by most elected officials and business leaders. In nearly every report Mills found recommendations concerning overhaul or strengthening of coordination and governance of higher education systems.

McGuinness charged that the most perplexing issue facing lawmakers is how to position the higher education system to take on the changes brought by a more market-driven economy. Wrestling with concerns for issues such as mission clarity, technology infrastructure, and increasing political control is becoming commonplace in state-level higher education planning across the country. In their seminal piece on the campus and state policy environment, Malcolm Moos and Francis Rourke stated in 1959 that properly positioning the public higher education system within the overall system of government has always been a problem. Roger Benjamin and Stephen Carroll conducted a survey in 1996 that found that governance structures commonly were not able to tie resource allocation to the mission. Instead of being able to focus scarce resources to areas of weakness or strengths, funding was spread uniformly to all disciplines, programs, and institutions within a system.

In the last quarter of the twentieth century, nearly every state reevaluated its higher education system in terms of quality, accountability, and efficiency. Conflicting desires surface as elected officials expect governing boards to meet public interests and set direction for higher education while the institutions desire the governing boards to be advocates for funding and keep the politics at a minimum.

See also: American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Finance, Higher Education; Governance and Decision-Making in Colleges and Universities; States and Education, subentry on State Boards of Education.


American Association of State Colleges and Universities. 1998. Higher Education and the Labor Market. Washington, DC: American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Association of Governing Boards. 1999. Bridging the Gap Between State Government and Higher Education. Washington, DC: Association of Governing Boards.

Benjamin, Roger, and Carroll, Stephen J. 1996. "Impediments and Imperatives in Restructuring Higher Education." Education Administration Quarterly 32:705720.

Berdahl, Robert O. 1990. "Public Universities and State Governments: Is the Tension Benign?" Educational Record 71 (1):3842.

Bonser, Charles F.; McGregor, Eugene B., Jr.; and Oster, Clinton V., Jr. 1996. Policy Choicesand Public Action. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bowen, Frank M., et al. 1997. State Structures for the Governance of Higher Education: A Comparative Study. Sacramento: California Higher Education Policy Center.

Gove, Samuel K. 1971. "The Politics of Higher Education." In New Perspectives in State and Local Politics, ed. James A. Reidel. Waltham, MA: Xerox College Publishing.

Graham, Hugh Davis. 1989. "Structure and Governance in American Higher Education: Historical and Comparative Analysis in State Policy." Journal of Policy History 1 (1):80107

Greer, Darryl G. 1986. "Politics and Higher Education: The Strategy of State-Level Coordination and Policy Implementation." In Policy Controversies in Higher Education, ed. Samuel K. Gove and Thomas M. Stauffer. Westbrook, CT: Greenwood.

Institute for Higher Education Policy. 1998. The New Millenium Project on Higher Education Costs, Pricing, and Productivity: Reaping the Benefits. Washington DC: Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Jones, Dennis; Ewell, Peter; and McGuinness, Aims. 1998. The Challenges and Opportunities Facing Higher Education: An Agenda for Policy Research. San Jose, CA: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Justiz, Manuel. 1994. "Demographic Trends and the Challenges to American Higher Education." In Minorities in Higher Education, ed. Manuel Justiz, Reginald Wilson, and Lars G. Bjork. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Maryland Higher Education Commission. 1996. Higher Education Funding Study, Part 1: Methods for Funding Higher Education in Other States. Annapolis: Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Marcus, Laurence R. 1997. "Restructuring State Higher Education Governance Patterns." The Review of Higher Education 20, 4:399418.

Melville, J. G., and Chmura, Thomas J. 1991. "Strategic Alignment of Community Colleges and State Economic Policy." In New Directions for Community Colleges: Economic and Workforce Development, ed. Geneva W. Waddell. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mills, Michael. 1999. "Stories of Excellence and Enterprise in Higher Education Policy Making: A Narrative Analysis of the Reports of the Blue Ribbon Commissions on Higher Education." Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), San Antonio, TX, November 2123.

Moos, Malcolm, and Rourke, Francis E. 1959. The Campus and the State. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.

National Center for Education Statistics. 1999. The Condition of Education. Washington DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research. 2000. Governance and Coordination of Public Higher Education in All Fifty States. Raleigh: North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

Peterson, Paul E. 1985. "Did the Education Commissions Say Anything?" Education and Urban Society 17 (2):126144.

Sabloff, Paula L. 1997. "Another Reason Why State Legislatures Will Continue to Restrict Public University Autonomy." The Review of Higher Education 20 (2):141162.

Washington State Higher Education Board. 2001. Tuition and Fee Rates: A National Comparison. Olympia: Washington State Higher Education Board.

internet resources

Baliles, Gerald L. 1997. "Partisan Political Battles: Governing Boards and University Presidents are Plagued by Divided Loyalties." National Cross-Talk 5 (3). <>.

Illinois State University. 2001. "Grapevine: A National Database of Tax Support for Higher Education." <>.

McGuinness, Aims C., Jr. 1997. "A Complex Relationship: State Coordination and Governance of Higher Education." National Cross Talk 5 (3). <>.

National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. 2002. 19981999 Financial Aid Survey. National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. <>.

Houston D. Davis

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