State Education Boards: Who’s Got The Power?

When New York legislators vote on seven new Board of Regents members on March 10, they’ll act out a vision that dates back to 1784. That’s when the state formed its Board of Regents, which supervises almost every facet of school instruction. New York chose an unusual method for selecting new Regents: a vote by both houses of the legislature, with no input from the governor. “We have a whole history in this country of being afraid of executive power,” says SUNY Cortland political science professor Mary McGuire. She says when New York was setting up the process, “The concern here was that this was a policy area that was of great interest to the public.” A vote by the legislature, the thinking went, would make it more democratic.