In 2006, the North Carolina Youth Legislative Assembly sponsored by State Youth Council of the State of North Carolina Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office produced their annual report. Following is the text of a proposal for an education-related bill created by the Youth Legislative Assembly, proposed by Rebecca Putterman and Margaret Zhou.
It directly attributes many of it’s ideas to my work both with SoundOut and through Washington’s state education agency. I’m proud and excited these students proposed this bill, and its cool to find it again. A non-directive proposal, I don’t know what ever came of this, but its fun to share here for your interest.
WHEREAS, in North Carolina, the governor chooses students to sit in on the school board with no voting rights (http://www.soundout.org/WebbReport/Summary.html); and
WHEREAS; according to Adam Fletcher, “Meaningful student involvement is the process of engaging the knowledge, experience, and perspectives of students in every facet of the educational process for the purpose of strengthening their commitment to education, community, and democracy” (http://www.soundout.org/MSIResearch.pdf); and
WHEREAS, according to Adam Fletcher, many business theories have recognized the essential input of consumers, and some schools have adapted this perspective to improve parental involvement, declaring the parents as the “clients” of schools. However, despite their role as the “end consumer” in schools, students are routinely excluded from these ambitious plans (http://web.archive.org/web/20060601230249/http://www.newhorizons.org/voices/fletcher.htm); and
WHEREAS; according to the case study by Cook-Sather (2002), students have an inherent lack of authority in their words in that, when given the opportunities to speak out, their comments are given inadequate consideration; and
WHEREAS; according to a case study by Golombek in 2002, several programs recited similar reasons for deepening youth involvement in their programs. Reasons included youth developing leadership skills, adults earning young peoples’ trust, and increased engagement of young peoples’ capacity to make a difference in their communities (http://www.soundout.org/article.103.html); and
WHEREAS; according to a case study done by Onore in 1992, giving students a voice entails more than asking young people for periodic comments or feedback during an externally controlled process (http://www.soundout.org/article.103.html); and
WHEREAS; studies exploring schools as communities for learning through service to others report increased student cooperation, enjoyment of the learning environment (Sparapani, 2000), quality increases in student work and better grades (Follman, 1998), and heightened participation in classrooms (Loesch-Griffin, et al., 1995), and
WHEREAS, administrators in Washington state have found that engaging students in school decision-making leads to more applicable policy and better relationships with local schools (http://web.archive.org/web/20040203203716/http://www.k12.wa.us/TitleVpartA/YES/studentinvolvement.aspx); and
WHEREAS, in England, Australia, and Norway, there is a national requirement by law to involve students in education decision-making (http://www.soundout.org/MSIResearch.pdf); and
WHEREAS, in Vermont, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Maryland, student board members have the right to vote (http://www.soundout.org/WebbReport/Summary.html); now
THEREFORE, be it resolved by the 2006 Youth Legislative Assembly that students participate in all county boards of education.
Section 1: Two high school students shall sit on each county board of education.
A. The high school students will be selected through an application including a teacher recommendation, an interview, and an essay. The application will be reviewed by a five-person (5) panel of principles and assistant administrators of public schools that will be selected randomly, accepting at their discretion, and reselected each year.
B. The selected students shall serve for one (1) term of one (1) year with no possibility of reselection.
C. In the case of a planned absence, a selected alternate student will substitute for one of the students who normally sit on each county board of education. The alternate will be selected through the same process as the other students.
Section 2: The two high school students on the State Board of Education will have full rights, including the right to vote.