Anne Arundel County Public Schools, in Maryland, was committed to fostering Meaningful Student Involvement throughout district decision-making for many years.
The Anne Arundel Office of Student Leadership was the home to most of the projects encapsulating the district’s commitment. Throughout the years, these projects have included:
- Superintendent’s Teen Advisory Committee. Composed of two student representatives from each of the district’s high schools, the committee met with the superintendent and other district officials three or four times annually. Student members have helped foster changes such as providing dinner for students in the evening high school program and revising course curricula to better facilitate the service learning projects—from tutoring to running a Toys for Tots campaign—required of all Maryland high school students.
- Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC). The county student government association represents the district’s 32 middle and high schools. Monthly general assemblies, forums on issues from school discipline procedures to the district’s curriculum, and student-led leadership workshops at individual schools on topics such as group functioning, project planning, and running effective meetings are the keys to their activities.
- Students on Committees. Students have participated on many of the advisory, curriculum and study committees in Anne Arundel schools. Students sound out on grading policies, alternative education, and other areas as a matter of procedure. State mandated School Improvement Teams involve large percentages of students – as many as 5 students on a 10 person Team.
- Student Member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Participating in budget and policymaking for the district’s 100-plus schools, Anne Arundel may be the only district in the country to accord this student representative full voting rights on the board of education. In an article by Wendy Lesko of Youth Activism Project, several successes of the student member of the board are detailed. They include the McGill Plan, named after the student board member who proposed modifying the bus schedule during high school mid-term and final exams. This move saves the district $100,000 annually. There is a shared and common understanding of the student’s role on the school board. Students and educators understand that the student member is not the student representative; instead, they are someone who will provide the viewpoint of a student in school matters. Students are very deliberate about the student who is chosen to represent them. The student member is not meant to represent a submissive or dominating perspective to adults. Instead, they are to offer something different from what are already established viewpoints by adult board members.
There was support from multiple levels of decision-making for the work of the Student Leadership and Involvement Office, and the work was sustained in a meaningful way for years.
All of these actions made Anne Arundel County Public Schools a beacon for student involvement in school decision-making around the nation. Today, the district is home to the SSL Leadership Team, students who do service learning projects.
You Might Like…
- Students on School Boards in Maryland
- SoundOut Students on School Boards Toolbox
- SoundOut Guide to Students on School Boards 2nd Edition
- SSL Leadership Team, Anne Arundel County Public Schools official website
UNITED STATES STUDENT VOICE DIRECTORY — Updated for 2023
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RELATED: U.S. Office of Students and Youth | Students on District School Boards across the U.S. | Student Voice in U.S. Education Agencies | List of Education Agencies | “Typical Engagement? Students on School Boards in the U.S.”