What Are Stakeholders?

Stakeholders have interest and concerns in businesses, but who are the stakeholder's in education?

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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parents as stakeholders

When one considers the term “stakeholder,” the first thought that comes to mind is big business and the money that can make or break companies. Typically, a stakeholder in a company are investors, employees, customers, and even suppliers. But what if we are talking about education? Are there stakeholders as it pertains to the education system? If so, what do they have to do with children in school?

When it comes to education, the term “stakeholder” carries significant meaning, though you may not be aware of it. While we’ve explained stakeholders in the business sense, in education a stakeholder can be considered in various ways. They could be anyone who has an interest, an investment, or the idea of implementing advanced ideas in the successful development of education.

A stakeholder, educationally speaking, can affect decisions that need to be made. They can also improve the learning environment, doing both of these things for the greater good of the education system. Stakeholders can have different titles, but their goal always remains the same – to develop a better educational system.

The Types Of Stakeholders

So, what types of stakeholders are we talking about? Along the home front, there is the family. You can have moms, dads, stepparents, grandparents, siblings, guardians, aunts and uncles, and even cousins who can be considered a stakeholder. Family stakeholders are the ultimate heart and soul of every student. Not only are they the heart and soul, but if you think about it, they are also the very first teachers. Their stakeholder role is crucial, and it starts early.

Of course, the family eventually gives way to school, though that doesn’t make the family less important as the student grows. In school, students have a number of stakeholders that play an important part. There are teachers, principals, counselors, paraprofessionals, cooks, bus drivers, custodians, volunteers, heck, even security officers play a part in things. When it comes to school stakeholders, it isn’t just the specific people who see students face-to-face, but it includes the entire school, the entire district, and beyond.

The key to all this is the strong developmental relationships the student forms. Research has shown that students who receive this kind of stakeholder school support often thrive as they grow. Students have been seen to show more motivation academically, an increase in their social-emotional learning and growth, an increase in their sense of personal responsibility while also showing a much-reduced engagement of bad behaviors.

Being a stakeholder isn’t reserved for family or school. The community can also have a huge impact on a student’s success. There are neighbors, coaches, pastors, police and firefighters, doctors and nurses, librarians, and even friends. There are local organizations and businesses that can also play a huge role in the well-being of a student.

Why They Matter

It should go without saying just how important a stakeholder can be in a student’s life. From showing love and respect to offering resources and opportunities, they play significant parts. Although they are or can be a source of hope and inspiration, these things don’t come easy. As educators, they many times feel like they are the ones whose burden it is to be the prime “stakeholder.”

Looking at things through an educator lens, not only must they figure out the day-to-day in school, but many times they also need to help a student with home life as well. Some educators work out of fear. By that, educators fear getting “it” wrong. They fear they will anger others; they fear dire consequences of not getting “it” right.

If not on the same page, educators can find being a stakeholder a challenge. They have school boards, parents, and sometimes the community they feel they need to answer to, all the while championing for their students. In many cases, it can be a thankless position to be in, which is why a coming together of the stakeholder minds is key.

Although at times (especially in today’s landscape) it may appear that stakeholder engagement is non-existent, there is still much of it going on. Typically, there are four steps in making for good stakeholder engagement – planning, participation, analysis, and sharing. If these are done at a high level, it makes for a good student experience.

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Not one stakeholder has a more crucial role than the other. It starts early with family, continues on when the student reaches school age, and furthermore as the student grows and expands their interests from sports to music to whatever topic of choice. Crucial they remain, though. And when all are on the same page, the benefits for students are endless.