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A legacy in the making turns 5 today— the Student Voice Campaign. 

Five years ago, the Student Voice Campaign transformed the perception and role of students as “essential” stakeholders in local decision-making processes in California’s public schools giving a voice to 4.5 million students. Today Californians for Justice celebrates an incredible historic victory in the Student Voice Campaign. 

“I’ve been an observer of California Education for 50+ years, and of all the things that have come along, the Student Voice Campaign was the most incredible thing I witnessed. It gave legitimacy to our future leaders and there’s nothing more important than that.” — Dr. Carl Cohn, State Board of Education member during the 2014 Student Voice Campaign

When the historic new school funding law, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) passed in 2013, Californians for Justice stood ready to close the chapter on its decade-long campaign for a more equitable funding system. But there was a major flaw in the roll out of the LCFF at the local-level. LCFF law required school districts to consult parents, teachers, and administrators in decision-making about school funds, but at the time, did not provide students a clear role in deciding how millions of new funding should be spent in their school communities. CFJ organizers and student leaders knew that for LCFF to be a successful, students needed to be involved in every stage of the planning process. LCFF represented an opportunity to increase equity in school funding, and to increase student engagement in schools.


In the last 5 years young people have elevated the importance of student voices in decision-making spaces, emphasizing that young people of color are leaders, and ready to civically participate in processes that have the potential to shape their lives.

The legacy of the Student Voice Campaign continues to evolve even today. When we reflect on the role of student  voice today in our schools and other institutions like the media, we see signs of real progress.    

More and more educators, administrators, advocates, and electeds will scan a room and ask: “where are the student voices”, or “what do students think”? In many school communities young people have leveraged the power of their voices and experiences to shape local school plans— in turn winning meaningful and momentous practices & policies.  

For the Student Voice Coalition, the state’s recognition of Student Voice was much more about being heard. The voices of young people and families of color have been underrepresented — from our school priorities to the voting polls. In the last 40 years young people and families of color have endured underfunded schools. Winning Student Voice in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) regulations was about ensuring that the young people who are directly impacted by local school decisions have the power to shape how education can transform their lives. 

“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 Sanders, CFJ Long Beach Alumni

The Student Voice legacy was possible, and continues to build on itself because of the incredible youth organizations and leaders who formed the Student Voice Coalition, and champions who stood by California students and their demand to be heard, valued, and reflected in their schools. The coalition was made up of Californians for Justice, InnerCity Struggle (ICS), Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) and California Association Student Council (CASC). In just 7 months, the Student Voice Coalition would successfully win Student Voice for 1,001 school districts across California.

Student Voice Campaign Throughout the 7 month campaign

These wins were possible because of the youth leaders, youth organizations, champions, and endorsers who believe in the power and necessity of student voice. 

What we’ve won because of the Student Voice Campaign:

 Student Voice in Oakland Unified School District

  • Students included within teacher hiring committees
  • Students as trainers for new teacher orientations

Investing in Staff in East Side Union High School District

  • Professional development for teachers and training in implicit bias
  • Creating advisory periods for academic and social emotional support

Creating Space for Relationship Building in Long Beach Unified School District

  • Strengthening freshmen orientations
  • Creating care centers for re-engagement and relationship building

Leading Together in Fresno Unified School District

  • Creating listening circles for students and staff to connect
  • Engaging site teams of teachers and students to shape new policies

Celebrate with Us By:

  • Sharing this post! 
  • Sharing what students have won in their schools because of the Student Voice requirement in the local schools and district funding plans?
  • Sharing our Know Your Rights poster with any youth leaders and youth organizations in your network.





Shout Out to Our Partners & Friends Who Made Student Voice Possible:

Student Voice Coalition Core Members 

Californians for Justice

Inland Congregations United for Change

InnerCity Struggle

California Association of Student Councils



Francisco Lobaco, Legislative Director, ACLU of California

John Affeldt, Managing Attorney, Public Advocates, Inc.

Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director, Ed.D., The Education Trust—West

California Teachers Association

Parent Teachers Association of California


Organizational Endorsements

Marvin Andrade, Director of Leadership Development, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA

Jackie Byers , Executive Director, Black Organizing Project

Vincent Jones, Senior Program Officer, Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition

Coordinating Committee, Campaign for Quality Education

Samantha Tran, Senior Director, Education Policy, Children Now

Omar Cardenas, Youth Organizer, Children’s Defense Fund

Christina Canaveral, Director of Parent Organizing and Education Policy, Coleman Advocates

Sabina Gonzalez, Regional Director – Central Valley, Communities for a New California

Alejandra Gutierrez, Youth Organizer Coordinator, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin

Oscar Cruz, President & CEO, Families in Schools

Cesar Casamayor, Youth Organizer, Fresno Building Healthy Communities

Cyndee Loryang, Project Coordinator, Fresno Center for New Americans

Carolyn Laub, Executive Director, Gay Straight Alliance Network of California

Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center

Laneesha Senegal, Executive Director, Helping Others Pursue Excellence

Lian Cheun, Executive Director, Khmer Girls in Action

Aurora Lopez, Student Engagement Liason, Oakland Unified Meaningful Student Engagement

Amy Fitzgerald , Executive Director, Oakland Community Organizations

Kim Miyoshi, , Executive Director, Oakland Kids First

Melia Franklin , Executive Director, Parent Leadership Action Network

Jennifer Peck, Executive Director, Partnership For Children & Youth

Fhatima Paulino, Organizer, People Acting in Community Together

Roberta Furger, Director, Policy and Research, PICO California

Luis Santana, Executive Director, Reading and Beyond

Cecilia Terrazas, Education and Career Director, RYSE Center

Lisa Maria Castellanos, Policy & Organizing Director, Sacred Heart Community Services

Zelica Rodriguez, Director of Programs, SOMOS Mayfair

Alice , Community Resource Developer, Stone Soup

Marci Lopez, Program Manager, The kNOw Youth Media

Gina Rodriguez, Youth Organizer, Youth Leadership Institute

Akua Jackson , Executive Director, Youth Together


Individual Supporters

Darcie Green, Trustee, Santa Clara County Board of Education 

Chris Funk, Superintendent, East Side Union High School District

Vito Chiala, Principal, Overfelt High School

Jesse Zhang, Trustee of State Board of Education

Thank you to following educators who engaged in a dialogue with students to provide feedback on their proposal for meaningful student voice in the LCFF:

State Board of Education Members and Staff

Jesse Zhang, Trustee

Bruce Holaday, Trustee

Brooks Allen, Deputy Policy Director & Assistant Legal Counsel

Elisa Wynne, Project Manager, Local Control Funding Formula


District Board of Education Members

Frank Biehl, Trustee, East Side Union High School District

Magdalena Carrasco, Trustee, East Side Union High School District

Christopher De La Cerda, Trustee, Fresno Unified School District

Cal Johnson, Trustee, Fresno Unified School District

Carol Mills, J.D., Trustee, Fresno Unified School District

Janet Ryan, Trustee, Fresno Unified School District

Megan Kerr, Trustee, Long Beach Unified School District

James Harris, Trustee, Oakland Unified School District

David Kakishiba, Trustee, Oakland Unified School District


District Superintendents 

Chris Funk, Superintendent, East Side Union High School District

Michael Hanson, Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District

Chris Steinhauser, Superintendent, Long Beach Unified School District

Gary Yee, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District


District Staff

Ruth Quinto, Deputy Superintendent and CFO, Fresno Unified School District

Robert Tagorda, Director of Equity, Access, and College and Career Readiness, Long Beach Unified School District

Raquel Jimenez, Family and Community Engagement Specialist , Oakland Unified School District


Local Principals

Matin Abdel-Qawi, Principal, Oakland High School

Vito Chiala, Principal, Overfelt High School

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