New NSBA guide helps school officials discuss bullying, climate issues

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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has launched board-student conversations to help school board members better address bullying and harassment issues in their schools and facilitate conversations with students.

Dubbed Students on Board: A Conversation Between School Board Members and Students, the project focuses on practical, straightforward guidance to help engage students. A brochure created by the Center for Public Education outlines ways to set up a meeting with students, school board members, and other school staff and what questions to ask to encourage a conversation about school climate. Click here Brochure.

In addition, a new website compiles existing resources from NSBA and other groups here Bullying.

“To address school climate, local school boards must listen to students and create an environment to analyze root causes and generate solutions that work for their community,” said Mary Broderick, president of NSBA and a member of Connecticut’s East Lyme Board of Education.

Research has continuously shown that schools where students are safe, academically engaged, and supported by the adults in the building are more likely to have fewer dropouts and higher student performance. One-third of students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school, with the most common form of bullying being verbal, either through insults, ridicule, or being the subject of rumors.

Unfortunately, a survey by NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) found that most teachers and administrators believe students are being bullied at least once a month in schools and classrooms. Bullying appears to be the most prevalent in middle schools, based on CUBE’s surveys and data from the National Center for Education Statistics. However, about three-quarters of teachers and administrators say they are able to discourage bullying.

“Students on Board helps school board members incorporate practices that ensure they hear directly from the young people their schools serve,” said Mark Nieker, president and CEO of the Pearson Foundation, which funded the project. “Research-based surveys can provide an immediate, detailed snapshot of their own school climate. With this baseline, schools can take concrete steps to improve their students’ experience—and they can provide similarly focused and informed support for their classroom teachers.”

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