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Working With Your School Committee:
A Student Guide

Section Four: Working With Students

SAC to SC members are liaisons between the students and the school committee. To be successful, it is important to be seen by students and adults alike as spokespeople for the student body. This means your committee needs to make a strong public relations and organizational effort. By talking to other students frequently, members know what they think. In addition, this will build credibility with students and with the school committee, too.

Your school's student government should be your primary contact. If they are informed about school committee business, the student council, or whatever form student government takes in your school, can help you develop student positions on that business. As a link with the entire student body, council members can talk in homerooms or collate questionnaires. The student council can be your best "friends" and in turn you can help the council become stronger by presenting important issues for the council to debate.

Here are some strategies for giving and getting information from students.

  1. Student Council Vote. Arrange for a time to address your student council. It is helpful if SAC to SC members are also members of the council. If you are not a member, try to attend meetings as an observer. Request time on the agenda and present information about the issue in an objective manner. Discuss the history of the issue and how it affects students. Then, tell the council the opinions of the SAC to SC members. After answering questions, ask the council president to have the council take a vote on the issue.

  2. Survey. If the SAC to SC is preparing a major report, it is a good idea to have all students in the school fill out written surveys. Make sure the questions are clear and simple. Ten to fifteen multiple choice, yes or no, or rank order questions work best. It is also important to tell students how the answers will be used. Print your names at the bottom of the sheet and ask for additional comments. (It is important to know and follow your school's policy on the timing and method of distribution of any questionnaire.)

  3. Clipboard Poll. By touring the sports fields, library, cafeteria and corridors and asking people their opinions, you can obtain a fair sense of the student view. Ask one or two questions orally, and record students' responses.

  4. Word of Mouth. There is still nothing better for gathering information than listening to your friends to gather information. Find out their views on a particular issue. Asking them how they think others feel will give you additional information.

  5. SAC to SC Booth/Box. Identify or establish a procedure to set up a table at a prominent location in the school where students can stop by and find out what SAC to SC does. While they are visiting, ask them to fill out a form listing what issues concern them. A message box may also do the trick.

  6. School/Town Newspaper. Write an article for your local and/or school paper about the SAC to SC. In it, describe what the committee does and what are the current issues. By asking people to contact you with their views, you will both provide information and seek advice.

  7. Special Meeting. Plan ahead and have an open meeting after school. Publicize it as an opportunity for students to find out what the issues are and to be heard. By inviting student leaders personally, you will assure better attendance.

  8. Visiting Classes. The SAC to SC may be able to arrange with several teachers to visit classes. When you talk to students in a serious structured environment, their answers maybe more thoughtful, and your comments may be better heard.

  9. Announcements. The school loudspeaker is one of the most effective ways to reach a captive audience. Let students know what issues are important and why you are asking for their opinion. This medium should be used in combination with another strategy, such as distribution of materials prior to the announcement.

  10. Homeroom Representatives. Through the student council or other student groups, you can send people to each homeroom. These representatives can explain the background of an oral vote, administer surveys and answer questions. Positive contacts with students in their homerooms can make everything click.

  11. Newsletter/Memo. Writing a letter to the student body and using homeroom representatives or members of other organizations to distribute copies is an excellent way to disseminate information (Regulations are explained in the Hazelwood case in Appendix 3).

  12. Other Student Groups. Get on mailing lists of other student organizations. If this is not possible, identify the members and ask if you can share their information when it becomes available. Also, offer to contribute to their newsletter.

In a situation where you are trying to obtain representative information, putting together the data is the next crucial step. Prepare results in a simple, concise form. Distribute to all who participated as well as to the principal, student council, and superintendent. Use some of the same strategies listed to send the information back.

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Last Updated: January 1, 2000
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