Education: School for School Boards

As most public-school superintendents and other taxpayers well know, many school boards are composed of public-spirited, well-intentioned citizens who don't know the first thing about overseeing a school system. Such boards often meet in secret and in ignorance, raise hob with sound budgets, scare off competent instructors, fiddle while schoolhouses crumble and educators burn. Many a board keeps no minutes of what good or ill it does.

The deficiencies of some 400,000 U.S. school-board members are a familiar worry to Dr. Woodson W. Fishback, 43, an associate professor of education at Southern Illinois...