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Grants to Expand Student State Leadership Provided by State School Boards Association Awards


ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Maine and Pennsylvania State Boards of Education will receive grants of $15,000 each from the National Association of State Boards of Education to increase student representation. The funding is made possible through NASBE’s Student Leadership Initiative, which is funded by MetLife Foundation to encourage leadership development among young people.

“Student representation on a state board of education provides a unique perspective and critical say about the full-range of K-12 educational issues from the very people such policies are meant to benefit. Moreover, since civic education is a basic purpose of public schooling, we would be remiss as state educational leaders if we did not ‘practice what we preach’ by instituting real opportunities for students to participate in their education and government decision-making,” said Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director.

In 2005, NASBE undertook research, also with the support of MetLife Foundation, to examine the impact of student representation on state boards of education. The study found that states boards of education with a student representative valued that member highly and, based on these findings, NASBE published a call for enhancing the role of student governance in its report, Student Leadership in Education. These grants are part of NASBE’s ongoing efforts to promote student participation and civic education.

Currently, state boards of education in thirteen states and the District of Columbia have a formal process for student participation in board deliberations. In three states—California, Massachusetts, and Vermont—students are full voting state board members.

“Maine has a long tradition of student involvement in public policy debates. This grant gives us the opportunity to get direct student input on the complex educational issues we face and create a comprehensive infrastructure of student engagement to nurture and sustain this civic responsibility over time,” said James Carignan, chairman of the Maine State Board of Education.

In addition, four states—Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, and Tennessee—will receive smaller NASBE grants to enhance communication capabilities between student members and their constituency of fellow students.

“Student voice is important because youth are the future of this country,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. “We want to make certain young people acquire the skills necessary to be effective leaders.”

NASBE encourages skill-building and involvement in all aspects of youth development. In October, it recommended that schools re-emphasize citizenship as a fundamental mission of public education and that state boards of education promote civic learning to prepare students for their responsibilities as engaged citizens in its report, Citizens for the 21st Century: Revitalizing the Civic Mission of Schools.


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