Student membership on school boards provides benefits for all

Allison Shelley/ The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages

Student membership on school boards is fundamentally democratic because it elevates a traditionally underrepresented point of view in education governance. It can be a learning experience for every person involved, including the student, the adult board members, and community members, and provides a real-life lesson in civics.

  • Representation and Diversity: Data shows that, on a variety of measures, only about half of students nationwide feel they have a voice in their school. For example, only 48.3% agree that “adults at this school listen to students’ suggestions,” and 45.7% agree that “students have a voice in decision making at school,” according to the Quaglia Institute. Giving students explicit membership on the school board could improve this statistic. Having at least one student on a school board can also increase the diversity of the board. Additionally, it may open the door to even greater student involvement in decision-making.
  • Insight: A student member provides a unique perspective on what’s going on in schools, which can help inform board conversations.
  • Empowerment and Leadership Experience: Being a student board member is a valuable and empowering leadership experience for the student and increases motivation and engagement. It also offers a real-life civics lesson and proves young people’s capacity and competence, which can lead to additional student voice efforts district-wide.
  • Better Learning Outcomes: When students feel their voices are heard, they perform better in school.
  • Improved Efficiency: Student representation on school boards improves the functioning of schools.

    Read more:
  • Student representation on school boards can help empower all students. Here’s how
  • What you should know about the new law requiring student members on school boards
  • Prepare for a student school board member with our customizable guides
  • A student school board member is a great first step toward equity. Here are some ideas for taking student voice further

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