Join a community of students who represent schools and communities across the U.S. to identify student-driven solutions that address the systemic inequity in the American education system.
About: Student Voice's work is driven by the belief that in order to achieve equity in schools, power must be meaningfully shifted towards young people most marginalized by the education system. Therefore, we model what we ask of institutions by actively elevating students to positions of decision making power across our work, starting with our entirely youth-led team. Composed of 15 high school and college students, our team brings together young people with deep experience in community action in distinct schools and contexts. We cultivate a growing base of student leaders, with 300+ engaged program participants from 36 states in our 2020-21 school year alone, and a network of 10,000+ students.
What is the problem we are trying to solve? Systemic educational inequities, caused by long unaddressed opportunity gaps, manifest across racial and class lines in terms of student outcomes and student experiences. While the education field focuses heavily on outcomes, disparities also exist in the quality of students' lived experiences in school. Student-defined measures, like perceived school climate, sense of community and safety, overall relevance in curriculum, and more, are critical to understanding the full picture of inequities that marginalized students face. Because we will know equity in schools has been reached when marginalized students tell us so, not simply when test scores do, meaningful partnership with impacted students is critical to understanding and addressing inequities.
Yet, educational institutions, from school districts to advocacy organizations, fail to embrace authentic intergenerational partnership as a pathway for change. When decision-makers do engage students, they often privilege students least impacted by educational inequities and those least likely to challenge existing systems. Public narratives also miss the mark, relying on data, research, and the dynamics of major policy actors without placing this information in the context of students' lived experiences. These issues uphold a discourse surrounding education that fails to forefront the experiences and needs of marginalized students. Impacted youth driving educational change face a lack of support and scaffolding and consistent underinvestment in the leadership of low-income youth and youth of color.
Our Solution: Through 1) storytelling and organizing programs for K-12 students, 2) authentic intergenerational partnership, 3) the convening of a youth education justice coalition, 4) a robust communications infrastructure, and 5) national strategic campaigns, we advance educational equity.