Puget Sound Educational Service District 2023 Regional Teacher of the Year Shane Monroe on Elevating Student Voice Within Classroom Communities

Shane Monroe

As the Puget Sound Educational Service District 121 Regional Teacher of the Year, serving as a spokesperson and representative for teachers and students, my message is a call to action to elevate student voice. Stuvoice.org, the by-students, for-students nonprofit advocating for student-driven solutions to educational inequity, defines student voice as: “recognizing and acting upon the fact that students are the primary stakeholders of our education and should be partners in shaping it.” Student Voice’s work is guided by the belief that “equity and justice within our schools will only be achieved when power is meaningfully shifted towards young people, particularly toward students with identities who are most marginalized by our nation’s education system.”

When reflecting on stuvoice.org’s mission statement as an elementary educator, the initial thought of giving our youngest students the power to make decisions within our classroom communities is… startling at best. However, it is important to pause and recognize the word power should not directly translate to full and total control, in any capacity of its context. Within the classroom, power should be thought of as emphasizing continued elevation of ideas and feedback from our students. Read More

K-12 Students Need More Excused Mental Health Days and More Comprehensive Support

By Ruby Coulson, Guest Blogger

 

Destigmatizing mental health is more than just saying the words, and it’s going to take significant steps.

Ruby Coulson is a Junior at Sequim High School, Sequim School District, National Leader through 4-H, and Committee Member on Legislative Affairs for the Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC)

The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) worked with Representative Jesse Johnson (D-30), Representative Lisa Callan (D-5), and Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37) to implement a new mental health bill, House Bill 1834. 1834’s goal is to implement more excused mental health days for K-12 education and set up more comprehensive support for students requesting these days. LYAC has always been a leading advocate for youth mental health priorities, working with legislators in the 2020-21 year to pass House Bill 1373, a bill that requires that every public school website publish contact information for suicide prevention, crisis intervention, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It passed with resounding support, with only six nays in the House out of 98.  LYAC is a group of economically, politically, geographically, and socially diverse young people lobbying for causes ranging from K-12 Education to Climate and Conservation. The reach of LYAC expands from Western Washington in the 24th district to Spokane in the 4th district, and we actively work to include as much youth voice as possible in our legislative actions. Read More

Podcast – The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council

Priyanka Mukhara (L) and Kellen Hoard (R)

In our Putting Students First podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman connects with two students from the Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) about LYAC’s history, how LYAC operates, LYAC’s impact on education policy, and what they would change if they were in charge of the state’s education system. Priyanka Mukhara is a First-Year Councilmember and Kellen Hoard is a Second-Year Councilmember and the Chair of LYAC.

The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) is codified in law as the official youth advisory body to the state legislature, and its activities are wide-ranging. Throughout the year, 14-to-18-year-old student members of the council actively lobby legislators, testify in committee, advise various government agencies, host events around the state, collaborate with nearly 200 community organizations, and much more.  LYAC also spends much time conversing with young people in every corner of Washington about their priorities in order to be a more effective advocate to the legislature.

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Mental Health from the Perspective of BIPOC Student Activists

By The Root of Our Youth Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Phia Endicott, Marlo Duong, Malavika Santhosh, Zana Stewart, and Molly Reagan
Guest Bloggers

 

Clockwise from top left: Tara Duong, Diya Kumar, Diya Anoop, Molly Reagan, Zana Stewart, Malavika Santhosh, Marlo Duong, and Phia Endicott

Without tangible mental health support, students—especially BIPOC—have been left to fend for ourselves throughout remote learning. In an attempt to remedy the emotional damage caused by the abrupt closing of schools, the recent switch to hybrid learning has ironically been handled in the same haphazard manner, with the causes of these mental complications remaining unaddressed.

Our education system teaches students that academic success holds greater value than our health. We’re in a position where we must suppress our mental and emotional needs to survive. When the pandemic hit, we suddenly had the time and space to express ourselves freely, leading us to recognize the severity of our struggles and the damages imposed by the education system.

While the school environment has its faults, isolation has made the management of mental health and academic success increasingly difficult. Numerous elements of in-person school cannot be recreated online, such as connecting and collaborating with peers, and effective communication with teachers. There is little to no opportunity for teamwork, a skill we’ve been conditioned to depend on since primary school. We were taken out of an environment rich in support and dropped into seclusion. Read More

Recap: The Role of K-12 Schools in Addressing Racially Motivated Violence

By Lizzeth Mancilla
Engagement and Policy Intern

 

From police violence around the country to the marked increase in attacks on members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community, we are continuing to see disturbing examples of racially motivated violence in the news. Over the past year, social movements have been thrust into the national spotlight, with youth at the forefront of the conversation. Recent incidents are impacting them in multiple ways, but how should K-12 schools respond? 

In this webinar, we assembled a statewide panel of students, educators, and a community organizer to discuss the impacts of racially motivated violence and how schools can best support students on a daily basis. They also answered your questions. 

Our panelists included: 

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Students Need Mental Health Resources on Every Public School Website

By Kellen Hoard, Chair, Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council
Guest Blogger

 

Kellen Hoard, LYAC

The Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC) is codified in law as the official youth advisory body to the state legislature, and its activities are wide-ranging.  Throughout the year, 14-to-18-year-old student members of the council actively lobby legislators, testify in committee, advise various government agencies, host events around the state, collaborate with nearly 200 community organizations, and much more.  LYAC also spends much time conversing with young people in every corner of Washington about their priorities in order to be a more effective advocate to the legislature, and this year the council has heard consistently that one of the top concerns for students is mental health. Read More

Watch our LEVinar on What Students Need Now

These are unprecedented times in Washington state. Most school districts are still doing remote learning and some are transitioning to hybrid learning models. But how are students navigating this historic school year, and how can we best support them now?

In this webinar, we partnered with The Root of Our Youth to assemble a panel of students from across Washington to share how they are doing and how we can help. They also answer your questions.

Moderated by League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman.

Watch Now

 

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Podcast – Fernell Miller of The Root of Us on What Students Need Now

In our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Fernell Miller, Founder and CEO of The Root of Us and a physical education teacher in the public school system, what she is hearing from students during this historic time, what it was like for her to navigate school as a Black student, and what she would like to see schools prioritize as the 2020-21 school year begins.

 

  • Take The Root of Us survey here.
  • Watch the student “I Can Return to School When…” video here.
  • Read our recap of the July 21, 2020 Virtual Rally for Students and Families.

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Podcast – Highline College student Chalisa Thompson on the Umoja Black Scholars Program

Highline College student Chalisa Thompson - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman asks Highline College student Chalisa Thompson how Highline’s Umoja Black Scholars Program has helped her, what went right and what went wrong in her educational journey, how she would change Washington’s education system, and how she envisions her future after she graduates.

 

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Visit our podcast page for more interviews

Read our 2019 Legislative Priority Issue Brief: Access to Postsecondary Opportunities Read More

Podcast – Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau - League of Education VotersIn our podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau to discuss her listening tour around the district, her Student Advisory Board, her strategy for closing achievement gaps, and her personal education journey.

 

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