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Student Voice Matters, and the Time is Now!

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by Kenyon Davis

We are directly in the middle of our 7 month campaign to ensure that the voices of the student are heard, valued, and reflected in District accountability & funding plans. CFJ and the Student Voice Coalition have called on the State Board of Education to define student consultation by creating a formal process, giving districts a menu of options, and update the guiding questions.

During the month of May, youth across the State held delegation meetings with local and state Board Members to tell their stories and express how critical Student Voice is to their success.

May 8th 2014 Over 50 students and allies across California came together to show that Student Voice Matters through moving public testimonies and a “faceless students” demonstration inside of the State Board of Education meeting. Students wore numbered masks to show that they are not just a number or statistic, they are students with meaningful voices!Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.58.21 AM

Immediately after the action, State Board of Education President Michael Kirst issued a response saying that “The Board is encouraged by the students’ participation and engagement in the state Board’s discussions and in decisions about how local school spend money and prioritize programs.”

Reenergized, we went on to hold local actions in 4 districts across the state, even winning the implementation of a Student Advisory Council in Oakland. Check out some of the local and statewide coverage of youth efforts:

  • EdSource – Students Want More Say in District Accountability Plan
  • Long Beach Voice Waves – Students Stage Silent Protest Over Funding Concerns
  • Fresno Bee – Students and Teachers Rally at Fresno

Jalisa Sanders, a Long Beach youth leader who testified at her local School Board Meeting said “Teachers have the Teachers Union, parents have parent advisory councils, but we students have a limited to almost non-existent voice in money that impacts our future. Us students want more meaningful student engagement in LCFF and we want to continue working with the State School Board to provide best practices to ensure students have a meaningful role in giving input on the LCAPs”.

Jalisa and her peers should not have to fight to be heard! Stay tuned for updates around our upcoming action. We are mobilizing youth and parents from around the state for the July 10th State Board of Education meeting in Sacramento. This will be a critical moment in the Student Voice Campaign to show State Board Members that students need a formal process to engage in local budget decisions.

Student voice matters, and the time is now!

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