School boards: The four keywords that keep coming up in the biggest districts

There's some evidence of political lines being drawn, particularly around SEL, mental health and related topics. 

Do school boards share the priorities of their district’s superintendents? Do they share the same priorities across the country?

A national keyword search conducted by K12 data tracker Burbio shows how often four big topics—including mental health and career and technical education—are covered at meetings nationally. Burbio has been providing regular updates on what school boards in the largest districts have been talking about.

Its most recent analysis looks at this year’s school board discussions in districts serving about half of the students in California, Florida, Texas, New England and parts of the Deep South. Not surprisingly, there’s some evidence of political lines being drawn, particularly around SEL and related topics.

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Student mental health has been an ongoing and major concern for administrators. Mental health and related terms such as “therapist” were mentioned at nearly half of the meetings in California and more than 40% of the sessions in New England, compared to just 13% in Texas.

The SEL divide is similar, though the term was mentioned less often in all parts of the country. Social-emotional learning was covered at nearly 40% of meetings in New England and more than 20% in California, compared to around 5% in Florida and Texas, both of which have laws restricting the teaching of sensitive topics such as race and LGBTQ issues.

CTE and security

Regional divides are narrower for career preparedness and safety. CTE was on the agenda at nearly 75% of Florida school boarding meetings, 63% in California and half of the meetings in the South.

Security was most common in Florida (78% of meetings), Texas (64%) and New England (54%).

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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