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 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 Student Voice Team was founded in 2012 at the Prichard Committee, a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky for all ages. 

Since 2021 they have been the Kentucky Student Voice Team, an independent, statewide organization organization of young people who are co-creating more just, democratic Kentucky schools & communities as research, policy & advocacy partners.