School Board Leadership and Policymaking in Changing Political Environments

Erica Frankenberg, Sarah Diem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


As the demographic make-up of public schools (and neighborhoods) shift and schools become increasingly segregated, the role of school boards becomes critically important in maintaining policies designed to remedy segregation and promote equal opportunity, policies which may challenge the status quo. Specifically, in school districts and communities where politics are fluctuating, longstanding diversity policies that have assisted in creating integrated learning environments can be overturned by a single school board election. Further, as suburbanization within countywide school districts creates distinct enclaves-where student populations are significantly whiter and more affluent than the district as a whole and political fragmentation is perpetuated-school board members representing elite enclaves may be less supportive of policies that would lessen the privilege of these residents. This paper explores school board leadership and policymaking in two Southern school districts where politics are currently in flux: Jefferson County (Louisville), Kentucky and Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina. Specifically, we seek to: (1) understand how demographic change-particularly the creation of suburban enclaves-influences public support for and implementation of integration policies; (2) examine the politics of diversity in a larger environment skeptical of race-conscious policies; and (3) analyze local policymaking and leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-142
Number of pages26
JournalUrban Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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