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Students Testify on Vote

This past week, students from different high schools in Washington testified to the Legislature in support of Senate Bill 5497. SB 5497 gives student Board members voting rights on the Board. The State Board has been working to better center the voices of students in our policy development work. The Board made changes to its bylaws in 2019, granting student members the ability to cast advisory votes. But they are symbolic in nature. In order for their votes to count, this small statutory change is needed.

Current senior student Board member, McKenna Roberts shared the first response in support saying:

"Together, Pavan and I represent over one million students across the state who are directly impacted by the policy decisions that the Board makes. Student involvement and input are critical to making sure that the policies the Board develops are student-centered and responsive to student needs...Granting student members on the Board the power to vote would serve to further the Legislature’s interest in inspiring student’s civic engagement. I ask that instead of seeing us solely as students, to imagine us as future senators, governors, and perhaps colleagues. It is up to you to send the message to every young person in Washington that students are worthy of being seen, heard, and valued by adults."

Student member Pavan Venkatakrishnan shared this important point:

"Students on the Board play an important role in decision-making, providing firsthand insight into our schools that adults may not have. We have real-time access to our peers and their perspectives. While it’s a small reform, granting students voting authority on the board is a common-sense procedural change that will ensure a robust policy partnership between students and adults in this state and lead to better outcomes."

Our student board members work very hard in this role, and have shown again and again that they can and should have, not just a seat at the table, but a say in the decisions. Learn more about this request legislation on our priorities page.

Find videos of the testimony which was broadcast on TVW: