New NASBE Resource Explains U.S. Education System, and How the Community, Business, and Health Sectors Can Work More Effectively With Schools

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For Immediate Release: May 21, 2014

Contact: Renee Rybak Lang,, 703.740.4841

Arlington, Va. – Across the country, millions of children attend public school every year. Their parents likely went to public school too, as do the vast majority of Americans. But attending public school, or even working in education, isn’t the same as knowing how public schools—and our nation’s education system—actually work. The U.S. education system is widely variable and causes confusion at many levels. It has different goals and desired outcomes than many other sectors. And, it has its own language, practices, and unique funding streams that all add layers of complexity.

A new resource from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), How Schools Work and How to Work with Schools, demystifies public education for policymakers, government officials, community members, business leaders, and others interested in partnering with schools to improve the health, safety, and well-being of all students and ensure they are successful in their academic pursuits. How Schools Work includes:

  • Explanation of public education governance at the federal, state, local, and school levels and how national organizations influence education policymaking.
  • Ways to meaningfully and positively engage with the education sector, including examples of successful school-community partnerships and best practices.
  • Guiding principles for working with schools and practical steps for more successful collaboration with them.
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions about public education. For example: What is Title I and how does it support low-income students? And, how are public schools funded?
  • Reliable data sources and resources for additional information on crossover issues in education, from school crime and safety, to school nutrition and health policies and practices.
  • A glossary of common education terms, acronyms, and important federal education programs.

A familiar resource for many, How Schools Work was first introduced in 1990 and has been completely revised to reflect current conditions in schools and dramatic education reforms in recent years, such as the Obama administration’s No Child Left Behind state waivers and growing concerns over student data privacy.

“…Everyone involved in education has the same goal of creating a generation of well-educated, healthy, productive, and engaged citizens,” the report concludes. “With the lessons learned in this guide, partners can work collaboratively and meaningfully to optimally meet the needs of the education sector—and ultimately support the growth and development of future generations of students.”

Read and share How Schools Work and How to Work with Schools.

Are you an education pro? Test your education knowledge with our How Schools Work quiz.

How Schools Work and How to Work with Schools is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NASBE thanks the CDC for its support and acknowledges that views expressed in the report are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. Our principal objectives are to strengthen state leadership in education policymaking; advocate equality of access to educational opportunity; promote excellence in the education of all students; and assure responsible lay governance of education. Learn more at

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