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Student Bill of Rights

Right 1

Access and Affordability

All students have the right to an affordable and equitable education.

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Let's Discuss:

  • At your school, do you feel there is a correlation between your income and the quality of education you receive?
  • In your county/city/town, do you feel there is a differing quality of education between different students?
  • What factors impact the quality of education you receive?
  • Are there any additional educational experiences or opportunities that are most accessible to affluent students? 
  • Does your school make an effort to reach students at all income levels? If not, what can they do to change this?
  • Do you feel our education system as it stands provides equitable education to all? Why or why not?
  • How does this all play into opportunities for higher education?
  • How can you impact change on this topic in your community?
  • How do policies like Affirmative Action affect this? Do you feel they are successful?

Subtopic Ideas:

College Affordability, Spending on Public Education, Access to Physical School (Transportation), Affirmative Action, and Education Resources (includes online)

More about affirmative action policies

Here's What's Been Going On With Affirmative Action and School Admissions | NPR Ed
 “School may be out, but there has been no lack of news this summer on race and admissions: an announcement from Jeff Sessions, a Harvard lawsuit, changes in the Supreme Court and proposals for selective high schools in New York City. Here's a rundown of the facts in place, and the latest developments.”

More about school funding

Is School Funding Fair? | Reports from Rutger's School of Education
“Fair? A National Report Card” analyzes the condition of state school finance systems with a focus on the fair distribution of resources to the neediest students. The Report Card makes a number of assumptions about how school funding systems should be designed”

More about the education/income gap

Inequality For All | Robert Reich
“We need to approach the problem of widening income inequality from 6 different directions. The trick is to understand how they all fit together while choosing manageable actions that make sense to who you are. We may not be able to do everything at once but think of each action you take as an incremental step towards the structural change our economy needs. To get started, tell us who you are or select an issue that matters to you”
Leapfrogging Inequality: Remaking Education to Make Young People Thrive | Rebecca Winthrop
“In an age of rising inequality, getting a good education increasingly separates the haves and the have nots. In countries like the United States, getting a good education is one of  the most promising routes to upper-middle class status, even more so than family wealth… in Leapfrogging Inequality, researchers chart a new path for global education by examining the possibility of leapfrogging—harnessing innovation to rapidly accelerate educational progress”
Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say | New York Times
“Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.”

Organization Examples

#Powerball Promise 

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence of Kentucky created a Student Voice Team aiming to collect students’ perspectives on educational issues. The team’s current initiative is inspecting the state’s use of lottery-funded income, funds which were meant to be used for financial scholarships for higher education. The Kentucky Student Voice Team found that these need-based scholarship programs were dramatically and unlawfully underfunded. The team reported their findings and  demanded Kentucky Governor Bevin keep the “Powerball Promise.” The Student Voice members have worked with authorities and lobbied to the state government in order to fight for Kentucky’s low income students.

The Student Congress of the Houston Independent School District serves to represent the interests of Texas students on educational matters. The group made history in 2015 by submitting an entirely student-written amicus brief to the Supreme Court of Texas, in which they used their own experiences to suggest changes in educational programs. The Amicus Brief Writing Team called for decreased class sizes, improving the quality of teachers, expanding enrichment programs, and providing more college and preparatory resources for students.

Read the Story

The Providence Student Union is an organization which aims to build the power of Rhode Island’s students. In 2015 PSU sent delegates to attend the Providence Finance Committee meeting to speak about the lack of funding towards student bus passes. Bus passes were supposed to be provided for students who had to walk two to three miles to school, but failed to be funded. PSU explained the difficulty and danger involved in getting to school, especially for low income students whose families could not afford bus passes on their own. The students even invited officials to walk three miles with them to school to show that the right to an education is not granted unless students have reasonable ways to get to their schools.

Bus Passes Providence Student Union

Houston Student Congress