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Students Call for Inclusion in Biden Department of Education Transition

Student Voice is calling for student voice in President-elect Biden's Department of Education, including in the selection of the next Secretary of Education.

Press Release
November 9, 2020

November 9, 2020

Media Contact:
Jenna Yuan | Director of Communications | (425) 260-8146

Student Voice is calling on President-elect Biden and his transition team to start with students in shaping the new administration’s federal Department of Education, including in the selection of the next Secretary and Undersecretaries of Education.

Specifically, Student Voice calls on President-elect Biden and his transition team to:

  • Involve students directly in the selection of the new Secretary and Undersecretaries of Education and listen to students’ demands for leaders who have a deep understanding of our public education system and are accountable to students, teachers and communities, not private interests.
  • Explicitly prioritize racial and social justice in all decisions and policies made regarding education in the Biden administration.
  • Institutionalize student voice in the Biden administration’s Department of Education by giving students a seat at the table at all commissions, working groups or convenings which make decisions regarding our educations.
  • Remain accountable to student and youth feedback on all issues that affect our educations and lives.

On current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ tenure and what students want to see in Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, Claire Gelillo, a high school senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland and a team member at Student Voice said, “For the past four years, we have had a secretary of education who actively worked against students’ demands. On top of that, she was nowhere to be found as students grappled with school and life during a global pandemic. As the youth of this country, we cannot let another secretary of education be selected without us. The secretary of education works for us.”

About the importance of student voice at all levels of the educational system, including in the Department of Education, Taylor Kahn-Perry, a student at Georgetown University and the Strategic Director at Student Voice said, “Through the hundreds of conversations with I’ve had with K-12 students across the country since COVID-19 disrupted our education system in early March, I’ve been consistently amazed by the power of student voice. Students are not only able to acutely diagnose problems of inequity within our schools—in terms of resources, curriculum and relationships—but also to envision and implement solutions that achieve equity in public schools. Education leaders explicitly undermine their ability to make change when they neglect student partnership. To make a real impact on the lives of young people, those in power must build rigorous, consistent and authentic partnership with representative groups of students across racial lines, academic performance, socioeconomic status, ability status, community involvement, and more.”

Regarding the importance of explicitly prioritizing racial and social justice in the new Department of Education, Maya Green, a first-year student at Stanford University and the Organizing Director at Student Voice said, “It is important to understand that students do not go to school in a vacuum, and the systemic racial and social injustices that affect American society at large also follow students into the classroom. For real and genuine education equity, the new Department of Education must view all of their work through a racial and social justice lens — and that starts with including marginalized students as partners, so they are represented in every decision made about their educations.”

In the coming days, Student Voice plans to release a completely student-written First 100 Days Agenda for K-12 education under the new Biden administration. Updates on our coming post-election work can be found on our website at

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Our Call to #StartWithStudents: The 2020 elections may be over, but our work is just getting started. Student Voice is organizing at the federal, state and local levels to ensure all decisionmakers start with students when making decisions about our educations. Across the country, students are building transformative power to hold leaders accountable to advancing education justice. Working at all levels of government, students are ready to make the Student Bill of Rights and Move School Forward Principles a reality in every school.

About Student Voice

Student Voice is a by-students, for-students 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in all 50 states to equip students as storytellers, organizers and institutional partners who advocate for student-driven solutions to educational inequity. Through direct civic action, Student Voice helps students hold their schools and surrounding communities accountable to the Student Bill of Rights and prepares them to become lifelong agents of social and political change. For more information about Student Voice, visit our website at and follow @Stu_Voice and #StuVoice on social media.

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