As the current Student Representatives, we want to share how this position on the SBE has impacted over 1.7 million K-12 students in the state and the role of student advocacy in the public education system. We have observed how student participation on the SBE elevates youth partnerships with policymaking bodies, further expanding student leadership opportunities.
For the past year, we have been collaborating with the SBE to review and contribute the student perspective to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Master Plan for Higher Education
(2022-2032). The Master Plan outlines strategic initiatives for strengthening the Commonwealth’s postsecondary education system, such as increasing access and affordability to college. By providing greater context on the needs of K-12 learners in the classroom, we help to support the transition from high school to college and career training programs.
As part of our responsibilities as SBE Student Representatives, we also serve on the Pennsylvania Association of Student Council’s Executive Board
(PASC) as full voting members. Within PASC, we are involved in committees and conferences to amplify student voices and engage hundreds of student leaders at the state level. We work closely with the Executive Board to provide opportunities for student leadership development as well as to facilitate the selection process for the next Junior Student Representative. Through our work on the Governmental Relations Committee, we provide leadership development programs that are accessible and empowering to student groups statewide. For example, the annual Student Summit provides a platform for high school students to engage with the state government and advocate for the best interests of all PA students in their own communities.
Additionally, we serve as the directors of the Students for Education in Pennsylvania (SEPA)
. This state-wide, student voice organization allows us to increase the inclusivity and visibility of student perspectives in educational policymaking. Through SEPA, we are able to contribute more nuanced student perspectives to SBE discussions, along with frequent presentations on student concerns about their educational experience. SEPA affirms the value of diverse student bodies through its active network of over 120 regional representatives and 55 schools from all geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
The Student Representative position has provided not only us but countless other PA students with invaluable opportunities to share our voices and contribute to the broader educational landscape on a platform unlike any other, with those at the helm of state government truly listening. We look forward to continuing our work on the SBE and advancing collaboration between the state government and student-led organizations.
Reva Gandhi and Claire Chi
Student Representatives to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education