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Introducing Statewide Student Advisory Board on Community Schools


California is shifting its sights from doing its work for to working with students. Investments in students are being prioritized. Youth are being recognized as equal partners and natural contributors to the education system, one school site/region at a time. Nonetheless, there’s still much to discover about how we as a State continue to honor our young people through the sustainability of the Community Schools Framework and beyond.

I’d like to introduce readers to the State Transformational Assistance Center’s (S-TAC) approach to modeling and integrating youth voice and decision-making in partnership with Californians For Justice. With a high regard for establishing a long-lasting collaboration, the S-TAC launched the Statewide Student Advisory Board on Community Schools on November 29th, 2023. The Statewide Student Advisory Board (SSA) is an extension of the transformational assistance and leadership services/resources provided by S-TAC. SSA offers a year-long platform to empower, strategize, and steer California’s Community Schools initiative. Part of our commitment as a state resource partnering with CDE is to model the pillars and conditions of learning in the Community Schools framework with representation and inclusion of all the Regional Technical Assistance Centers(RTACs) across California.

Participating in the SSA Board enhances students’ leadership skills, deepens their political analysis, and engages their leadership the 2024 Community Schools Summit. The board comprises 18 youth, of which 16 are at the high school level, and 2 at the middle school level. CFJ’s Capacity Building Associate, Janice Mendez, and Community Schools Intern, Jamaka Walton, support with the development and empowerment of students on the board.

The vision in birthing of SSA was to de-silo and address the lack of genuine partnerships between adults and students, and provide a space for students to practice their agency, autonomy, and project-based learning.To be a real model and lead the fight of advancing equity and putting power directly in the hands of Black and Brown youth, we need structures like SSA.

The Statewide Student Advisory Board is merely one way to honor our commitment to school transformation and community schools is another, but coupled together is the product of possibility thinking and intentional trails of sustainability.

The best part of my job is knowing I’m making a difference in the lives of students who, believe it or not, embrace care and presence above all else. I never thought I would be here, in a space with such an incredible opportunity to develop youth and motivate them to recognize their greatest asset to this world. The cards for me were far worse but standing in support of students and working in education is the lifeline I didn’t know I needed. As I write to you today, know that I am proud to share what happens when you believe more in the people you’re creating systems for.

Don’t just take my word for it, see it for yourselves at this year’s Community Schools Summit on June 13-14. See if you aren’t convinced of the magic that happens when you offer students a platform.

Director of Educational Renewal and Innovation

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