June 12, 2013
Students Say Youth Voice Could Improve Education
Student Voice Team presents to the Prichard Committee
CARROLLTON, KY — The opinions and observations of Kentucky students can be a powerful resource in improving schools and addressing education issues, according to a panel of central Kentucky high school students who asked the Prichard Committee to more fully integrate students into its education policy work.
Fourteen high school students from central Kentucky participated on the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team which met starting in October to discuss education topics and strategize on how students could help shape policy decisions.
“We want to improve the situations in our own classrooms,” said Tia The, a junior at Lexington Catholic High School, the lone private school student on the team. “We are the ones being taught. When it comes to education policy, it only makes sense to have students involved.”
Andrew Brennen, a senior at Dunbar High School in Fayette County, added: “As students, we spend over 35 hours a week in Kentucky schools. We have knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Use us.”
The Prichard Committee has sponsored student groups focused on education issues in the past. A team of Education Ambassadors worked to provide a student’s-eye view of the wake of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act. More recently, a Youth News Team reported on key education issues from an in-school perspective.
The current student team recommended a more permanent presence for student voices. The group recommended adding four high school or college students to the membership of the Prichard Committee; backing for regional student advisory committees to discuss education issues that would begin with continuation of the central Kentucky team and a team in Jefferson County during the coming school year and in additional regions in later years; and creating a network of informed students who could serve as sources to the news media on education issues.
Members of the student team said that students hold untapped potential in improving Kentucky schools and deserve to be more informed on the intent and details of education policy issues and decisions.
Following the Student Voice Team's presentation, the Prichard Committee members voted to direct the board to explore ways to act on the team's recommendations.
The Kentucky Student Voice Team is an independent, youth-led, statewide organization that supports students as research, policy, and advocacy partners to ensure Kentucky’s education system is as equitable, just, and as excellent as it can be. Until 2021, it was part of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky—early childhood through postsecondary.