Student Advisory Councils engage students as partners to foster youth leadership, community involvement, and democratic school and district governance.
School-Based Student Leadership
Schools can tap into many of the talents and skills of their students by offering robust youth leadership programs. In many schools, students can be elected to student government, take an elective leadership class, and help facilitate town-hall forums. Student government representatives are often leaders amongst their peers and are highly involved in activities at their schools. At the high school level, a minimum of two student leaders also serve on the School Leadership Team.
Borough Student Advisory Councils
High school students who are identified as student leaders in their schools are often elected to serve on the Borough Student Advisory Councils (BSACs). There are a total of six BSACs. Each of the five boroughs has its own Student Advisory Council. Brooklyn, the most populated borough, has two councils. BSAC high school student representatives meet monthly to discuss issues and concerns that affect their respective boroughs. The BSAC in each borough is facilitated by the Field Support Center School Climate Manager.
Chancellor’s Student Advisory Council
At the beginning of each school year, elections are held at the BSAC meetings to choose student representatives for the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Council (CSAC). Each borough elects five CSAC student representatives and two alternates. The CSAC representatives meet on a monthly basis from October through June at the DOE central headquarters. CSAC members represent student voices not only for their BSAC, but more importantly, for all NYC public school students. These meetings at the borough and central levels are student led, which helps to develop participants’ leadership skills. CSAC meetings feature Robert’s Rules, a code of conduct for participating in public forums.
At CSAC meetings, students have the opportunity to speak with the Chancellor and/or the DOE Senior Leadership Team. CSAC members have been influential in policy changes over the years. Areas of focus have included Respect for All, improving student and family engagement, school closures, the discipline code, school safety, pupil transportation, and career and technical education programs. For instance, CSAC representatives successfully advocated for much needed bake sale fundraisers in schools. They are particularly proud of their campaign, which led to the reversal of the “No Bake Sale Policy.”
Two CSAC representatives are elected each school year to be the student representatives on the NYC DOE Panel for Educational Policy. CSAC members are also involved in the selection criteria for the student representative to the Citywide Council for High Schools.
Student Advisory Councils have forged many partnerships. Last year, the Student Advisory Councils partnered with Educational Video Center to produce public service announcements Each BSAC created, directed, and produced two or more videos on social issues, including teen pregnancy and depression.Their film festival screening was held at AMC Loews theater at Penn Station. The Brooklyn South BSAC was fortunate to be the recipient of a pilot Youth Leadership Academy facilitated by Coro New York Leadership Center. Future editions of Counselor Connections will feature more of these exciting projects.