Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Sarah Niebler




Public school board members are often our forgotten representatives. In the United States today, local governance in general has been ignored by many citizens. This is evidenced by the simplest, direct form of political participation-- voting. U.S. citizens turn out to vote, and engage in dialogue, far more often for federal elections like that of the president than for local elections. Yet realistically, citizens have significantly less influence or control over their state and federal representatives than the potential for representation that they have with local officials. The smaller the ratio of representative to constituent body, the greater the chance for citizens to have meaningful influence both in their vote choice for candidates as well as direct input once the members are in office. This is not to suggest that citizens should not participate in state and federal politics, but rather, to highlight the significant impact that they can have when staying active locally. School boards serve as the closest representative body that citizens have to the field of education. They not only directly impact students’ education, but they also have the authority to make decisions that affect every resident within their geographic discretion.