Eight Terms Students on School Boards Should Know

The education system has its own language that students and adults should be aware of. There are certain terms you should be familiar with when looking at roles for students on school boards. Following is SoundOut’s vocabulary list specifically for this area.

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Eight Terms Students on School Boards Should Know

Student Voice Is THE Missing Piece in School Reform. Learn more at SoundOut.org.
Learn about the Basics of Student Voice.

1) Board of Education

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Board of Education is generally synonymous with school board. Both terms can be used interchangeably.

2) Meaningful Student Involvement

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Meaningful student involvement is a framework for engaging students as partners throughout schools and the education system.

3) Student Board Member

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Student board member, or a student trustee, is a fully voting, complete member of a school board who has the same rights and responsibilities of adult school board members.

4) Student Council

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Student council is a form of student government, just like student senate and associated student body (ASB).

5) Student Engagement

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Student engagement is the sustained connection a student has to schools and learning.

6) Student Representative

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Student representative is a partially participating student who is meant to represent students without having substantive authority.

7) Student Voice

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Student voice is any expression of any student about any part of education, anywhere at anytime. It is not just for high performing students, older students, or white students. ALL students have student voice; the question is whether or not educators and others can listen.

8) Closed Session

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Also known as an “Executive Session”, a closed session is a private session where school board members can consider issues outside the public view.

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  • The phrase “student board member” is sometimes used synonymously with “student representative”. Both terms are distinct though, and should be used with full awareness of their meaning.
  • In some locations, a board of education oversees the county schools (usually defined by political boundaries). The county (political boundaries) is typically divided into districts or regions. However, there are some locations where the geographical county is divided into public county schools and public city schools. It is still possible for city schools to have districts, but not always.
  • According to Canada’s Student Voice Initiative, unlike adult school board trustees or representatives who are elected to represent the voices of taxpayers, student trustees are students elected by their fellow peers to represent the voices of the student body on their local school board.The student trustee is not only responsible for voicing students’ concerns on the issues they care about, but also has the ability to propose policies on students’ behalf and exercise a vote.
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