A board of education, school committee or school board is the board of directors or board of trustees of a school, local school district or higher administrative level.
The elected council helps determine educational policy in a small regional area, such as a city, county, state or province. It usually shares power with a larger institution, such as the government's department of education. The name of the board is also often used to refer to the school system under the board's control.
The American board of education traces its origins back to 1647 with the formation of the American public school system, the Massachusetts Bay Colony mandated that every town within its jurisdiction establish a public school. Committees sprang up to run the institutions, and in the 1820s the state of Massachusetts made the committees independent of local governments, establishing the model for the autonomous school districts that exist throughout the country today. The U.S. Constitution left authority over education in the hands of the states under the Tenth Amendment, which reserved to them all powers not explicitly given to the federal government, and the states passed that authority on to local school boards. For more than a century, local boards were solely responsible for public educations funding, standards, instruction, and results. At their height in the 1930s there were as many as 127,500 boards. Some sparsely populated states had more school board members than teachers. For much of their history, the boards presided over school systems serving agrarian and industrial economies.