BSAC actively engages students in decision-making in the Boston Public Schools.

BSAC is co-administered by Youth on Board and the Boston Public Schools Office of Engagement.  

POLICY CHANGES

1.      Climate Change – BSAC began examining climate change issues in the spring of 2014, recognizing that young people of color will be the ones most impacted by the effects of climate change. Accomplishments:

·         Mobilized 6 busses of youth and allies for the People's Climate March with ACE

·         Integrated youth voice into City’s Climate Action Plan

·         BPS building sustainability and efficiency improved through solar panels and retrofitting advocacy

·         Held City Council hearing and vote on resolution urging the state to divest from fossil fuels.

2.      Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition (YAC) – BSAC joined YAC in 2011 based on the belief that every young person deserves affordable access to transportation. Accomplishments:

·         Department of Transportation lobbied and influenced to increase fares by 23% instead of 100%

·         Pilot of a youth pass, allowing 1500 youth between the ages of 12 to 21 residing in Boston, Chelsea and Cambridge to purchase a monthly pass for $26 or a weekly pass for $7

3.      Code of Conduct (formerly Code of Discipline) – BSAC worked with BPS administration to update the  Code of Discipline (now Code of Conduct)  regarding student rights, disciplinary actions used for minor offenses, and the uses of suspension and expulsion. Accomplishments:

·         Founded and serves on the Code of Conduct Advisory Council (COCAC)

·         Passed Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012 and works on implementation with Chapter 222 Coalition

·         2000 young people participated in annual Listening Project through Dignity in Schools Campaign Week of Action

4.      Student Rights & Responsibilities (SR&R) Campaign and App– BSAC is working with schools to educate students about their rights; many of the policies included were created and passed by BSAC:

·         Designed and distributed 10,000 SR&R pocket-sized pamphlets

·         Student Rights Civics Curriculum implemented in 12th grade

·         15 schools participated in schools-based campaigns to raise awareness of SR&R.

·         Boston Student Rights application informs students of rights and changes to Code of Conduct

5.      Pepper Spray – BSAC, alongside youth, families, teachers, community organizing groups, and the YOUNG Coalition, effectively influenced BPS not to arm school police officers with pepper spray.

6.      Student Vote – BSAC is seeking to pass a home rule petition to change law in the City of Boston so that the student member on the Boston School Committee will become a voting member.

7.      Student Voice in Teacher Feedback and Evaluations – Based on the evidence that student feedback to improves classroom culture by promoting positive relationships, BSAC has accomplished:

·         Student to Teacher Constructive Feedback Policy passed, allows students to give teachers feedback on strengths and weaknesses through BSAC developed Constructive Feedback Form

·         BESE mandates student feedback as official component of teacher evaluations

·         Monitors survey tool and process used to collect feedback in evaluations as member of the Student Feedback Working Group with the BPS Office of Human Capital

·         Model survey tool and best practices in implementation developed with DESE

·         Created a video to promote student feedback

8.      Student Government mandated in high schools – BSAC worked with the Student Engagement Advisory Council (SEAC) in writing the Student Government Circular mandating that all BPS High Schools are required to have a functioning student leadership structure.

9.      Punctuality Policy (formerly known as the Tardiness/Lockout Policy) – BSAC lobbied the schools, Headmasters, School Committee, and the Superintendent to remove the lockout component from all tardiness policies in all BPS schools.

10.  Military Opt Out & Peace Rally – BSAC members had over 2000 conversations with BPS students on the issue of military recruitment and opting out and participated in a rally to deliver over 1300 opting out cards to the Superintendent.

11.  Cell Phone Policy – BSAC, in collaboration with the Superintendent, drafted a district policy on cell phone use in schools. The School Committee approved the policy, which states that students have the right to use their mobile devices before and after school hours but must remain off and not visible during school hours.

12.  School Start Time –BSAC presented recommendations for school start times based on community input to the School Committee and a later school start time was piloted at 10 high schools in the fall of 2007. The later school start time is now permanently in place at some schools.

 

ADVOCACY

13.  Superintendent Search – BSAC students ensured their involvement in the Superintendent search process by hosting forums, creating a video about what students want from a new Superintendent, and developing search criteria which was shared with the School Committee, the Search Committee, the search firm, and broadly with the public. BSAC members interviewed finalists and contributed to the interview questions.

14.  National Student Bill of Rights (NSBR) – NSBR is a national movement bringing together youth from across the country to define youth vision for education and social justice. BSAC provided feedback and recommendations for the document, co-hosted an NSBR workshop with the Baltimore Algebra Project to raise awareness around NSBR, and assisted in the implementation of the national youth voting week.

15.  Metal Detectors – BSAC developed and delivered a proposal that outlined students’ concerns about metal detectors in schools and ways to make metal detector searches more efficient, more effective, and more respectful of students to the Superintendent, who asked the security department to act on these resolutions.

16.  District Budget Cuts – BSAC worked with a budget coalition made up of eight youth organizations from around Boston to rally against budget cuts across the school district, facilitated meetings between students and the Mayor, and helped organize students for a march to a School Committee meeting. The coalition organized a forum with an estimated 350 students and many BPS officials in attendance.

 

RESEARCH/ADVISING

17.  Health and Wellness – BSAC has been a member of the BPS District Health and Wellness Council for several years and was instrumental in editing the Boston Public Schools’ new health curriculum, dubbed the “Health Frameworks,” which has since been used to train teachers in the district.

18.  Participatory Budgeting – As part of the Youth Lead the Change steering committee, BSAC has helped facilitate the process of getting input from young people across Boston on how to spend $1 million in capital funds for the past two years.

19.  Homework Task Force – Following the work around effective teaching, students hope to end “busy-work” assigned by teachers that is irrelevant to course material. Students were part of a formal Homework Task Force along with teachers and staff from the Academic Superintendent’s office to establish a policy to increase the quality of homework and access to school resources that will make for more effective learning.

20.  Drop-out Rate – BSAC surveyed over 300 BPS students about what makes students drop out of, and stay in, school and presented the results to the School Committee, school administrators, Boston Private Industry Council’s Boston Youth Transitions Planning Group, as well as on local cable television and other venues.

21.  School Climate Surveys – The Academic Superintendent conducted a focus group with BSAC on the topic of a district-wide student survey focused on School Climate. This survey is distributed to both students and parents. BSAC students provided input on the survey questions.

22.  Social Emotional Learning (SEL) BSAC hosted a National Conference for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, where teachers, students, parents and advocates discussed the importance of SEL in schools. With funding from the NoVo Foundation, BSAC helped hold another convening for groups across the country working on student feedback in teacher evaluation could gather to discuss their SEL-centered approaches to the work. Currently, BSAC is being studied by the Susan Crown Exchange along with several other organizations selected from around the country for their unique, SEL-centered program models.

BSAC has made me feel connected to my school, my teachers, and my community.
— Savina Tapia, BSAC Member and Student Representative on the School Committee

BSAC is co-administered by Youth on Board and the Boston Public Schools Office of Engagement.