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ERIC Number: EJ767844
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Dec
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-1529-8957
Building Leadership Capacity in Students
Neigel, Keith
Principal Leadership, v7 n4 p20-24 Dec 2006
Recent high school reform efforts strongly recommend that schools model democratic principles and give students, teachers, parents, and community members a significant role in school governance and the decision-making process. Specific recommendations include the creation of site-based decision-making councils, student leadership forums, and student-initiated seminars on substantive issues that are directly related to school improvement. The message is clear: giving students a voice in determining the quality of their education is central to school reform. Unfortunately, over the years, many educators have given little more than lip service to the idea that students can be partners in their schools and the reform process. Student leaders, such as members of student government and class officers, have been relegated to planning dances and pep rallies, discussing the quality of cafeteria offerings, and organizing fundraising events. Although these activities have some intrinsic value, students need to be more fully involved in authentic aspects of school leadership. Educators must begin to invest in their students and empower them to be participants in a shared, collective endeavor: their education. Only then will educators be truly able to model participatory democracy in their schools and help prepare students for life as informed, engaged citizens. This article discusses how students at Millburn High School in New Jersey learn leadership skills by conducting year-long studies of issues that are important to them and to the school. Every year, student groups select a problem to research and study, conduct full investigations, recommend changes, and propose their ideas to the faculty. The process culminates with the students presenting all findings to the board of education and the public for approval. Action research procedures provide a structure for developing the study and conducting the research. The presentations to faculty, school board, and community membersteach important skills, validate and empower students, and sometimes even change policy.
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey