The beginning of a new school year gives you the opportunity to promote ways to amplify student voice and to ensure the youth in your school feel empowered to shape a future that they will eventually lead.

As you know, NASSP has a long tradition of supporting and advocating for school leaders and raising student voice through National Student Council and the National Honor Societies. We pursue our vision of great leaders in every school committed to empowering each student passionately, because our nation’s progress and our collective prosperity depend on our students’ ability to lead us through a complicated future rife with challenges we cannot yet even define.

In order to do that, we must put their safety first—because the death of a child means the death of all of the potential in that child. Despite the efforts of school leaders to create safe, inclusive environments for all students, as of this writing, in 2018 there have been 28 school shootings resulting in 40 deaths.

“We’re not just talking about losing a person,” said Randall Woodfin, mayor of Birmingham, AL, just hours after 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington was shot and killed at school this past March. “We’re talking about losing a part of our future.”

Every day, we are losing far more of our future than we can afford. Students across the country continue to mobilize and are realizing how powerful their own voices are on topics that matter to them—not just regarding school safety and gun violence, but also sustainability, the health of the economy, the future of the American workforce, and other issues that they will have to contend with in the future.

Students are reaching out, wanting to become part of the solution. It is our job as educators to foster this civic engagement and ensure that we are creating a culture that supports the empowerment of the youth in our schools and under our care.

JoAnn Bartoletti
Executive Director, NASSP