Four Juniors Head to Sacramento on Behalf of IUSD


Julia Kim

Every week, students work with Jon Resendez to practice pitching and suggesting solutions to lawmakers. The students met with different IUSD board member to hear the different needs of the district.

Julia Kim, Co-Editor-in-Chief

After more than six weeks of researching, writing, discussing and planning, juniors Jason Chen, Nishad Francis, Annika Lai and Maya Sabbaghian and will travel to Sacramento on Mar. 5 with one common goal: suggest legal policies benefiting Irvine by talking to legislators.

While travelling to Sacramento started 13 years ago by Irvine Unified School District’s Parent Teacher Association, the tradition of going with students started a few years ago with a parent from Northwood High who found it more effective to have students talk with policy makers, not parents.

“The people [at Sacramento] were more interested in talking with the students than they were with the adults mainly because the students are the ones that experience the policies that they set in Sacramento,” event organizer and social studies department chair Jon Resendez said. “They don’t get to talk to students very often; they don’t get that feedback.”

Currently, the local control funding formula determines how much support districts receive based on how many schools have high concentrations of English learners, foster youth or students with free and reduced lunch. With Irvine having a very low concentration of those students, the trip to Sacramento is an effort to illustrate the influence that low funding has on IUSD students.

“We want to put a human face to the work that they do in Sacramento. They basically just push paper around, so they need to know that it’s not just numbers,” Resendez said. “Our per pupil student funding isn’t just a number on a page. It’s a student’s educational experience, and they need to look them in the eye and they need to hear that experience.”

Every week since Jan. 28, students from IUSD High Schools have gathered to share their educational experiences and practice pitching to an audience.

“I’m most excited about knowing that I have a chance to make a change,” Francis said. Usually, we feel like there’s not much we can do, and if we find something wrong with the system, we can’t do much. But given this opportunity, I’m really excited to share my stories and those around me.”

Each student will be sharing his or her stance on school funding or educational experiences; Chen and Lai will be advocating for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new education policy, Francis will talk about increasing technology use, and Sabbaghian will be emphasizing the importance of mental health.

“The advocacy part [of the trip] is something you can use throughout your whole life, and we hope you can use that civic-minded advocacy whether it’s for yourself, or for the greater good,” IUSD School Board of Education President Lauren Brooks said. “It’s something that you can use throughout your life personally, professionally, or even environmentally – something to make a difference in the world.”