Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


School Boards in America  

A Flawed Exercise in Democracy   


by Gene I. Maeroff, Palgrave MacMillan, New York, N.Y., 2010, 240 pp., $89 hardcover, $28 softcover

When reading Gene I. Maeroff’s School Boards in America: A Flawed Exercise in Democracy, the seasoned superintendent or board president will find the book evokes personal recollections of service experience. The newbie administrator is more likely to gain a “101” sense — an incredibly broad but shallow overview. Reading the book will serve as an incisive cognitive overview to the newcomer, but the emotional experience that creates the depth of understanding will be missed.

The book highlights important issues related to textbook selection, hiring, tax bases, unions, special education and the options for governing in ways other than a democratic election — most especially appointments to the board.

The author’s experience as an education reporter for The New York Times comes through in what is a mostly conversational writing tone interrupted by an occasional scholarly reference that begs for a citation. Any one chapter could serve as a subject for a book. Alternatively, each chapter subject could make a comprehensive feature article in The New York Times and a valuable resource for a graduate seminar or a board member training session.

Reviewed by Joseph W. Rudnicki, retired superintendent, Aptos, Calif.



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