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Civic Action: The Role of School Boards to Advance Youth Engagement and the Civic Mission of Schools Bill Hughes, PhD, Superintendent of Schools, Greendale.

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Presentation on theme: "Civic Action: The Role of School Boards to Advance Youth Engagement and the Civic Mission of Schools Bill Hughes, PhD, Superintendent of Schools, Greendale."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civic Action: The Role of School Boards to Advance Youth Engagement and the Civic Mission of Schools Bill Hughes, PhD, Superintendent of Schools, Greendale School District, WI Elizabeth Partoyan, National School Boards Association 2005 NSBA Annual Conference

2 Vision Standards Collaboration Assessment Climate Alignment Accountability Continuous Improvement

3 The Public Purpose of Education Proponents of free public education from Thomas Jefferson to Horace Mann have argued that it is not enough simply to be born into a democracy; individuals must learn to engage in democratic action if they are to continue to govern themselves. Thus, as the primary state institution to reach each successive generation, public schools have a particular responsibility to provide opportunities for young people to become civically engaged. For more than 150 years, public schools have been viewed as a primary means to prepare young Americans for that task.

4 Citizenship Education The National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC) supports citizenship education that is: School-Wide; Community-Based; and Focused on: ›Knowledge, ›Skills, and ›Dispositions.

5 Critical Nature of Citizenship Education Teaching young people the specifics of civic engagement is, arguably, the crucial component of creating a democratic self and society. In creating a democratic self, young people need to learn how to: bring their fellow citizens together around common concerns; give a (loud but articulate) voice to their ideas, support, and objections; persevere when faced with disagreement or opposition; and not lose heart when they have lost a battle.

6 Characteristics of a Positive School Climate for Citizenship Education 1.Official recognition and community acceptance of the civic purpose of education that is communicated to all teachers, students and administrators. 2.Meaningful learning of civic-related knowledge that builds on and enhances academic and participation skills. 3.Cooperation and collaboration in approaching civic- related learning and problem-solving. Continued

7 Characteristics of a Positive School Climate, Continued 4.Mutual trust and positive interactions among diverse students, faculty and administrators. 5.Students’ input in planning and skills in participatory problem-solving that is valued. 6.Deliberation and dialogue about issues that are thoughtful and respectful. 7.Engagement within the school community and commitment to learn about and interact with the broader community.

8 Civic Development Through School Boards One formal opportunity for students to engage in civic actions leading to democratic citizenship competencies is through participation with local school boards. The more formal the interaction between student representatives and school board members, the more salient the learning and application of civic knowledge.

9 NCLC Survey Results (26 Districts Responding) Eighty-eight percent of surveyed districts report that their district’s mission includes expectations for graduates in leadership, engaged citizenship, active community membership, etc. Approximately 54 percent (14 districts) of responding districts formally include students on the local school board or on board committees Eleven districts allow student participation on the school board: Eight as non-voting board members Three as members with honorary, unofficial, or advisory votes Three allow participation on committees only No student members have “true vote” Continued

10 Would take too much time5 Lack of student interest5 Students shouldn’t be involved in policymaking 4 Never thought of it3 Tried it and it didn’t work2 Don’t believe they could do it effectively1 NCLC Survey Results, Continued Of those districts without student involvement on the school board, why not? (13 of 26 districts)

11 Capacities in Which Student School Board Representatives Serve n= Source: Maine State Department of Education

12 Hart’s Ladder of Youth Participation youth-adult shared decisions adult-initiated, shared decisions with youth consulted and informed assigned but informed tokenism decoration manipulation

13 Benefits for students include: Development of leadership and public-speaking skills, dependability, and responsibility. Better understanding of public policy and democratic processes. Exposure to diverse people, ideas, and situations. Availability of more resources, support, and role models. Increased self-esteem, sense of personal control, and identity. Continued Benefits of Student Involvement on School Boards

14 Benefits for adults include: More confidence working with and relating to youth. Better understanding of the needs and concerns of youth, and increased sensitivity to programming issues within the district. Increased energy and commitment to the organization. Stronger sense of connectedness to the community. Benefits of Student Involvement on School Boards, Continued

15 Recommendations Vision Articulate the multiple benefits of citizenship education and adopt policies to support students in district decision-making. Standards Honestly express expectations and responsibilities of School Board members—both students and adults. Alignment Ensure consistency of student civic engagement with district values and policies. Assessment Develop and implement a comprehensive system to collect and analyze data on the effectiveness and efficiency of student civic engagement on boards and within schools. Continued

16 Recommendations, Continued Accountability Develop mechanisms to ensure expectations of board members are fulfilled for adults and students. Continuous Improvement Implement professional development for the Board and students and use data to inform decisions. Climate Create and sustain systems and policies that are conducive to authentic youth engagement. Collaboration Develop and enhance opportunities to support youth civic engagement within the district and between the district and the community.

17 Questions for Discussion 1.What other kinds of information should NCLC ask school boards about in the survey? 2.What can NSBA do to support school board leaders in promoting citizenship among students? 3.What are you willing to do in your own district or at the state level to promote student civic engagement?

18 “When I hear about a school board that has a student representative, I smile, because the board will be richer and smarter for it. Student input only enriches the school board dialogue…There are mutual benefits to having students serve on local boards. They are experiencing real-life learning and contributing to their school and their community, and their advocacy is very powerful.” —Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director, NSBA

19 For More Information Bill Hughes, PhD Superintendent of Schools Greendale School District 414-423-2700 x2701 Elizabeth Partoyan Program Manager, Extended-Day Learning Opportunities National School Boards Association 703-838-6734

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