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National Association of State Boards of Education


The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) was established in Denver, Colorado, in 1959. Prior to the establishment of NASBE, individuals who served on state boards of education had limited opportunities to meet to discuss issues related to the development of state education policy. State board members, like many individuals involved in public education in the early fifties, were actually members of the National Education Association (NEA).

At its inception, the National Education Association was an umbrella organization for education professionals and policymakers, including members of state boards of education. The expansion of collective bargaining was incompatible with the concept of a single organization for education interests and resulted in the creation of targeted associations that represented the various components of public education. State and local boards of education initially banded together to form one organization. Several of the members of state boards of education, however, felt their unique interests and needs could not be met in the combined group because of the disproportionate number of local board members in the organization. Consequently, NASBE was created and continues to address the distinct needs of state school boards and their members.

In the early years of the organization, it was the usual custom for individuals to serve on state boards of education for several years. The services and activities of the organization focused on bringing members together and reflected a culture of long-term, extended ministration. During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, however, the average term of state board service diminished to four years, hence transforming the work of the association to one of assisting boards and members with the rapid pace of policy development. The primary focus of the association turned from one of simply a convener of state board members, to an organization that concentrated on the professional development of board members, training in policy development, and information dissemination.

The length of time individuals serve on state boards of education was not the only change that confronted the organization. With the standards based reform movement, the nature and focus of policy development of state education changed dramatically. NASBE services in the early twenty-first century reflect the more complex work of state boards, the considerable diversity of views among the membership, and the external influence of legislatures and governors on the policymaking process. Recognizing the expansion of interest in state education policy development outside of the state boards of education, the association opened its doors to other educational leaders, still maintaining its core services to boards. Membership categories within the association have been developed for others who are interested in education policy development from a state perspective. Although the primary unit of membership is based on a state board of education, a person who does not currently sit on a state board of education may still join as an individual.

The association is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, which is governed by a board of directors that includes the offices of president, vice president, immediate past president, and eight area or regional directors. The officers are elected nationwide from four geographic regions, each of which has two representatives on the board of directors. A secretary-treasurer is elected from among the area directors, and there are ex-officio members representing the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Council of State Education Attorneys, and the National Council of State Board of Education Executives. The board meets quarterly and holds an annual business meeting each October at the Annual Conference of the association. The organization has a Resolutions Committee that annually reviews the standing positions of the organization and each member state may cast a vote to change, affirm, or add resolutions to the association's governing document.

To guide its work between annual business meetings, the board of directors relies on a set of adopted beliefs that assert the following:

  • Public education is essential.
  • Public education must address the needs of all students.
  • Public education is the most fundamental obligation of state government.
  • Citizen governance is essential in making public education an enterprise that fulfills its purpose.
  • Citizens who serve in position of governance over pubic education must do so without conflict of interest.
  • Every state board member has national level roles and responsibilities.
  • Differences among and between states should be recognized and considered when addressing education policy.

To promote those beliefs the association and its management relies on a mission statement that affirms the following:

ANASBE shall be the principal organization for policymakers involved in the field of education. It shall develop and provide information that anticipates critical issues formulated with active participation of state board members. NASBE shall promote policy frameworks that are clearly recognizable as scholarly, student-focused, nonpartisan and adaptable to state by state implementation.

NASBE is financed through a combination of state dues, associate memberships, publication sales, and grants and contracts for services and research projects. The range of issues addressed include, but are not limited to, the examination of policies that affect standards, assessments, accountability, certification, accreditation, special education, diversity, educational technology, and health education.

The organization provides a panoply of services to its members, including in-state technical assistance, annual and legislative conferences, an annual training institute for newly elected or appointed board members, chairs-leadership conference annual study groups, monthly policy and legislative up dates, issue-specific publications, and a quarterly journal, the State Education Standard. The organization maintains a website, and is involved in numerous collaborative initiatives that augment its influence beyond the confines of state boards of Education. The association has been known for its scholarly approach to issues and consequently commands attention and influence beyond its basic membership.

The association is managed by an executive director, who is hired and evaluated by the board of directors, and who oversees a staff of nineteen professionals.

See also: States and Education, subentry on State Boards of Education.

internet resource

National Association of State Boards of Education. 2002. <>.

Brenda Lilienthal Welburn

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