I think its important for any framework to deliberately state the goals for what is trying to be achieved. There are many aims in my work to Meaningful Student Involvement. In my forthcoming book, The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook, I expand on them to provide more information. Following is a draft of the section about the first aim.
Aim 1: Engage students at all grade levels and in all subjects as contributing stakeholders in teaching, learning, and leading in schools.
There are no “across-the-board” limitations, such as race, gender, socio-economic status, school size, or subject matter, or developmental roadblocks, like age, academic performance or physical disabilities that prohibit Meaningful Student Involvement. Educators in all grade levels are equally charged with the responsibility of infusing hope into learning. Meaningful Student Involvement also extends across and integrates within all curricula, challenging the social studies teacher equally with the physical education teacher.
Unfortunately, in many student leadership activities and traditional student involvement opportunities throughout schools today, there is an unspoken belief that only some students can be involved. Requirements around academic participation, behavior and teacher permission often coincide with racial and socio-economic gaps between students who participate and those who do not. The adult educators who sponsor these opportunities also frequently mirror those gaps, all of which combine to demonstrate a “student involvement gap” that is much like the academic achievement gap present throughout many schools today.
Even in schools where there is are largely homogenous student bodies, there are still disparities among students who are involved and those who are not. These can shake out along the lines of parent involvement, historical family cultural attitudes towards education, and teacher support for student engagement.
When considering his aim, it might help schools to think about the following key questions:
- Who is allowed to become meaningfully involved?
- Whom are they allowed to become involved with?
- What are they allowed to focus on through their involvement?
- What student voice is encouraged and/or allowed?
- Who decides the answers to these questions?
- How are those decisions made?
- How, when, where, to whom and how often are those decisions communicated?