Critical Questions about Students on School Boards

This is the SoundOut Students On School Boards Toolkit by Adam Fletcher. It includes research, examples and more. SoundOut offers professional development and training! For more information contact us.

It’s important to ask critical questions in any activity claiming to infuse Meaningful Student Involvement. There are many questions to ask before engaging students on school boards. Following are some of them.

Critical Questions for Students on School Boards

  • Does the state or district mission include the preparation of democratic citizens? Do policymakers believe it is their role to support this mission?
  • Do policymakers understand the connect between student engagement and Meaningful Student Involvement? Are they committed to them both?
  • Are policy makers willing to adjust their culture and procedures to make students feel welcome and supported? Are adults willing for students to engage on the merits, even when it conflicts with their own views?
  • What are the legal restrictions on student involvement in policymaking? If students may not vote, are there other ways policymakers can include student voice in decision-making?
  • Is creating two student positions on the board of education the only approach? Could combining approaches successfully involve more students, such as an advisory group or having an equal number of student and adults positions on the school board, provide students more valuable an experience in genuine decision-making?
  • What kind of training will student decision-makers need to serve effectively? What kind of training will adult decision-makers need to support student decision-makers and get the most out of student involvement?
  • Will meetings be scheduled at times and locations that will allow student representatives to participate?
  • Does the policy provide students with the support they need to be successful, including training, staff support, mentor(s) and formal and informal opportunities to ask questions and communicate with their adult colleagues?
  • Does the policy ensure student members accurately reflect the interests and concerns of the student body, and effectively communicate policymakers’ decisions to the student body?

What questions would YOU add to this list? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!

Students on School Boards Toolkit

Students on School Boards in Canada

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Elsewhere Online

School Boards of the Future by Adam Fletcher

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