California Student Board Member Association
GENup is working with a talented team of student board members from across California to form the inaugural California Student Board Member Association. More details to be released soon.
CSBMA is a student-led organization of school-district student board members from across California that works together to better represent their constituents, allow for statewide youth advocacy, and provide support in the effort to expand student board members across the state. CSBMA believes that students are essential to California school boards, and their unity allows for meaningful representation of student voice in California’s diverse and ever-changing education system. A united front of student board members will cultivate student agency.
CSBMA strengthens and promotes school board governance. We define and drive the public education policy agenda through advocacy, training, and member services. Strong local boards of education are essential to ensure a high-quality education for every student in every community.
CSBMA will provide support and development between student board members that would allow for youth-focused advocacy on a statewide level. CSBMA collaborations would provide all student board members with a platform in which they can openly communicate with one another, allowing students to adopt useful practices. To take the idea of connecting student board members one step further, CSBMA will hold an annual Student Board Member conference that will allow student board members from across California to interact in person and share their experiences with one another. On a statewide scale, a unified voice could better identify and acknowledge the needs of students within the California education system. CSBMA will also empower youth through education to advocate for the addition of students to local Boards of Education. Through AB261 and Education Code 35012, CSBMA will aid students in creating a student board member seat on their school district boards if they currently do not have one. Student representation in all school districts will ensure that students are fairly represented, and that the policies passed in their respective school districts target the most pressing issues of the youth
With help from a unified network of students such as the CSBMA, student board members can reach their full potential and better serve the students within their school district, as well as make a larger impact on education advocacy on a statewide level.
Detailed Analysis of CSBMA:
Our project works to bring the California education system into a new generation where students-the primary-stakeholders of education- are partners in creating a stronger system. Through help from the California Student Board Member Association, student board members can tackle the issues they face by having the resources necessary to effectively understand and act in the interest of students, which in turn allows for the accurate representation of California’s 6.3 million youth.
Specifically, our organization has three different focuses. Our mission statement helps summarize those:
“CSBMA is a student-led organization of school-district student board members from across California that works together to better represent their constituents, allow for statewide youth advocacy, and provide support in the effort to expand student board members across the state. CSBMA believes that students are essential to California school boards, and their unity allows for meaningful representation of student voice in California’s diverse and ever-changing education system. A united front of student board members will cultivate student agency. ”
The first part of this has to do with a student board member representing their constituents. Communication through our organization allows Student Board Members to work with one another, and learn valuable information from the experiences of others. This plays a critical role in the expansion of ideas. An example of this can be found in movements to make school districts 100% renewable energy. There are currently multiple school districts in California that have implemented this. Our organization could ensure that student board members were connected, thus allowing them to carry out these progressive plans. Another important part of representation that we tackle is how best to work with your school board. Oftentimes it can be intimidating and scary to complete this job. Student Board Members are expected to express the opinions of thousands of students without being given training, or understanding what a school board actually does. Our organization would ensure that Student Board Members are sharing personal experiences and successes on how to make partnerships with other members. This allows student board members to quickly become effective and essential to the school board process. In addition, this collaboration allows for student board members to have more rights on the board of education. Across California there is a big difference in regards to what a Student Board Member can actually do. Some have the rights to participate in the meetings and make motions, and others only give a sports report on their high school. This is definitely an issue as state law provides that student board members can fully participate and make motions. By being an entity of Student Board Members, we would work to change this narrative, and expand the rights of students on boards of education.
The second focus of CSBMA is statewide youth advocacy. Education legislation is often written without the consultation of students, and leaves out the students being affected by it. Our organization would be the only entity representing elected and appointed students in the state, which would allow our lobbying and advocacy efforts to represent all students. Our ideas would come from student board members at the local level, and our process would allow these ideas to be discussed and vetted by a united group of student board members. It could then be advocated for at a statewide level. The idea is that legislators would see legislation brought forth by our organization, and know that it had the backing of California students. This connection would ensure that some of California’s most vulnerable students have a way to make an impact.
The third focus of CSBMA is the expansion of student board members across the state. There are over 900 school districts in the State of California. Of those school districts, hundreds of them do not even have student board members. Many do not realize that a student is even allowed to serve on a Board of Education. Our organization would change this through our advocacy. With a large number of student board members we could use our statewide network to identify student leaders within their respective school districts. We would provide student leaders with the necessary resources and support to demand change. These actions would help us further our mission of empowering student agency through school board engagement.
The founders and brainchilds of this organization include Zachary Patterson, the student board member of San Diego Unified School District (second largest school district in California), Brenna Pangelinan, the student board member on the California State Board of Education, Alvin Lee, the Executive Director of GENup, and Frances Suavillo, the student board of Los Angeles Unified School District (second largest school district in the U.S.). Along with these members, there is an executive team of ten student board members, and we are currently connecting with over a dozen other districts.