Students discuss creating statewide policy-advising council
Friday, January 15, 2021
Students want more of a voice in state policy, and education groups are helping them organize.
More than 220 people from around the state, mostly students, gathered virtually Thursday evening for the first Oregon Students United Leadership Summit. The meeting’s primary goal was to discuss draft legislation to create a statewide Racial Equity and Justice Student Council.
The council, with an emphasis on engaging students of color and students from underserved groups, would give young people a voice in the state’s decisions. The council would advise the governor’s office, the Legislature, and various state education bodies. It would also offer resources and mentorship for developing young leaders.
The council would be led by students and staffed by the Oregon Department of Education. Much of the meeting was devoted to gathering student input on how to place youths on the council.
The summit was co-hosted by the Oregon Association of Student Councils, REAP Inc., the Oregon Association of Secondary School Administrators, the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators and ODE.
Many of the students were new to the legislative process, but they were eager to get involved. The young people spoke passionately about addressing the problems they see in their schools and their communities.
“Students are not the problem; they are the solution,” REAP Executive Director Mark Jackson told the group.