Here is a collection of presentations SoundOut has shared focused on engaging students on school boards. For more information about our presentations, contact us.
Intro to Student Voice on School Boards
Workshop Description: This interactive session examines the practice of engaging students on school boards. Using research, tools and examples from across the U.S., participants will explore why student voice should be engaged in formal district decisionmaking, best practices, and potential roadblocks. This session also highlights practical steps and important resources for school boards to move forward.
How to Engage Students on School Boards
Workshop Description: Participants in this session will be introduced to SoundOut’s frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement. It will feature several interactive opportunities. Participants will examine which students to engage on school boards, how to engage them, when it matters, and what difference students can make in board decision-making and throughout the entire education system.
The Student Voice Initiative, or SVI, is a national organization in Canada that works with school boards to strengthen student engagement in Canada.
From the perspective that students on school boards are the ultimate solution for effective student voice, SVI provides tailored expertise and action planning to help boards, districts and divisions build and improve robust student engagement models. They also share the stories of exceptional student engagement successes across the country to encourage change in education systems across the globe.
The California State Board of Education Student Member has been a fixture since 1969. They have been full-voting members since 1983.
Starting in 1969, the SBE appointed a student to serve as a board advisor. In 1983, the Legislature and Governor granted the student full participation and voting rights.
In order to become student members of the SBE, students must be:
Any student enrolled in a California public high school who will be a senior in good standing
Be available to attend a statewide conference in November
Serve a one-year term from August through July
Attend all SBE meetings held during that time, which includes a minimum of two days every other month for approximately six meetings per year
Vote on educational policies vital to California’s students and schools
According to the State School Board of Education, the position provides a wonderful opportunity to influence educational policy in areas such as curriculum, standards, assessments, accountability, and Local Control Funding Formula.
California law requires that school district governing board student members select six of the 12 semifinalists for further consideration by the SBE
In school districts across Canada, there is a growing movement promoting roles for student trustees on the board of trustees. There is no one set role for student trustees. If a board of trustees has student representation, it is often a single student who is charged with representing hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of their peers.
What It Is
The fundamental purpose of allowing a Student Trustee to sit on the school board is to ensure Meaningful Student Involvement throughout the education system. Actively engaging student trustees:
Increases student engagement in learning, teaching and leadership
Builds student ownership in education
Secures lifelong civic engagement among participants and their peers.
Ontario has a longstanding tradition of student trustees on their school boards. Every district in the province includes students on district boards to varying effects.
What They Do
Our research, along with practice across the nation, shows that keys to effective student trustees include:
Well-defined purpose and function of the student trustee
Proportionate student representation
Democratically elected by their peers
Ensured diversity and inclusion
Full participation in monthly board meetings and board committee meetings
Classroom credit for student members
Student trustees participation in board meetings should not simply consist of a report on their activity and progress on student initiatives. Instead, best practices show student trustees should:
Have a full, binding vote.
Be able to move a motion Engage with their peers by strategically and frequently visiting schools within their boards
Meet regularly with their Student Senate as well as other student groups representative of a schools’ diversity
Work with adults in their schools and across their districts to organize initiatives that enable them to meaningfully involve more students
What They Do Not Do
Roles for student trustees do not:
Mean all students are equally represented
Automatically ensure students know all about education and the education system
Ensure elementary and secondary students, students with special education needs, students in specific programs (e.g. extended French or Enrichment), and students in all curriculum streams are engaged
Instead, it means that a board of trustees has student representatives who are humans. Just like adult trustees cannot effectively represent every constituency in their district, students cannot and should not be expected to do that, either. Student trustees can strive to listen to their peers and engage other students in meaningful ways, but their roles cannot be the only roles for Meaningful Student Involvement in their districts.