Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day

One of my favorite outcomes of Aspirations work is the following. The staff in this middle school had worked on student voice for a few years and wanted to put something systemic/structural in place. Moreover, they knew they needed to address "Old Guard" concerns about giving students too much say. In essence, they needed checks and balances in their system. Where better to look for a model than the U.S. Constitution.

They were able to create a “balance of power” in school leadership based on the idea of different branches of government. The administration was appropriately considered the “Executive Branch” and was responsible for enforcing all school rules, among other things. The “Legislative Branch,” responsible for overseeing and creating policies and procedures, was made up of a Faculty Senate and a Student House of Representatives. Faculty elected senators to a two-year term from among a list of student-nominated teachers and students elected representatives to a one-year term from a list of faculty-nominated students. The “Judicial Branch” was a group of five staff members and four students selected by the administration and approved by the legislative branch. Note that this gave the staff a majority bloc for handling discipline disputes, if it came to that, but students seemed to understand and accept this fact. All students learned about this system of government in their social studies classes. Students at this school believed that students had a genuine voice in decision making.

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