SOURCE: National Association of State Boards of Education

March 25, 2008 14:40 ET

Study Highlighting Student Leadership Issued by National Association of State Boards of Education

ALEXANDRIA, VA--(Marketwire - March 25, 2008) - A report by the National Association of State Boards of Education highlights state efforts to expand opportunities for students to participate in the policymaking process. The report is part of NASBE's Student Leadership Initiative, which over the past two years has focused on the role and challenges of students serving on, or advising, state boards of education. The report and Student Leadership Initiative were supported by MetLife Foundation to help strengthen education and to encourage leadership development among young people.

The analysis reviews the activities of five state boards of education -- Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee -- that received grants to promote student involvement. Maine and Pennsylvania explored adding a student member to their state boards of education. Massachusetts, Montana, and Tennessee all have existing student representation on their state boards and worked to improve the communication between the student member and the student population across their respective states.

"The efforts of these state boards of education to directly engage students was only matched by the commitment and passion of the students themselves. It is our hope that this guide will serve as a useful tool for those interested in expanding opportunities for students to be involved in state board of education deliberations and decision-making. At the very least, raising awareness about student involvement is a powerful reminder of the ultimate constituency for whom state school policies are intended. And any review of student outreach and engagement strategies will serve to benefit a board's larger functions to interact with other interested parties and the general public about their work," said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

Each of the states' experiences illustrates ways that other state boards can expand or enhance student participation in state education policymaking. While a student representative to the board is the goal for many states, other states may be in the early stages of thinking about student involvement. Regardless, these strategies can be adapted to various situations, such as a statewide student advisory panel, a local system of student board members, or even a statewide conference of student council representatives.

Nearly half of the state boards of education in the country currently include students in board deliberations and decision-making. In fifteen states, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, students serve in an official capacity on the state board of education as members of the board. Another three states are piloting programs, and two more -- Maine and Pennsylvania -- have undertaken efforts to add student members within the next year. Other states, such as Illinois, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia allow for students to be involved in board committees or advisory panels, reporting to the full board periodically. Some states have both a student advisory council and student representation on the board.

NASBE represents America's state and territorial boards of education. Our principal objectives are to strengthen state leadership in education policymaking; advocate equality of access to educational opportunity; promote excellence in the education of all students; and assure responsible lay governance of education.

MetLife Foundation supports programs that increase opportunities for young people to succeed, give students and teachers a voice in improving education, create connections between schools and communities and develop leadership. The Foundation works with national nonprofit organizations to develop a variety of initiatives, many of which address issues raised each year in The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. For more information about MetLife Foundation, please visit

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