Student Advisory Board on Education Conference Develops Policy Proposals for State Board of Education

To conclude the Student Advisory Board on Education conference, delegates worked on electing the next student board member, a high school senior who sits on the State Board of Education as its seventh member. Each year, SABE hosts an election process that narrows down 12 semi-finalists to the top six, and after, the SBE reduces it to one, according to Tesoro High senior Stephanie Hu.
(Fiona Lu)

The California Association of Student Councils hosted 58 delegates and 19 staff at its annual Student Advisory Board on Education conference via Zoom from Oct. 30-Nov. 1. At the conference, delegates, including students from Portola High, learned about California’s education system and developed policy proposals to address educational issues.

CASC divides California’s 58 counties into 12 Regions, including Orange County, which is known as Region 10.

On the first day of the conference, delegates from the 12 regions brainstormed topics they believed to be pertinent within the education system and narrowed the list down to six issues: civic engagement, student wellbeing, educational equity, socioeconomic support, diversity equity and inclusion and post-high school preparedness, according to education policy director, conference director and Tesoro High senior Stephanie Hu.

One topic was assigned to each council group for ten delegates to collaborate to find the root of the problem, delve into an ideal solution and research the feasibility of that solution.

“From an objective standpoint, it seems really hard,” Region 10 communications director and junior Madyson Chung-Lee said. “But the way CASC formats it is that they walk you through everything, and you brainstorm everything with your council group. Because of Zoom, it’s hard for some students to speak up, but I think I got so used to it and built up the brainstorm skills, so it was pretty fun.”

CASC counselors, panelists and speakers who are familiar with California’s education system, like California School Boards Association member Dennis Meyer and California Department of Education consultant Hilva Chan, helped delegates navigate the process of developing policy solutions.

“I think one of the surprising things I learned from the panelists is that obviously they’re qualified,” Region 10 president and junior Ellie Lian said. “We know that. We see their credentials. We see their experience. It’s just really nice knowing and learning that the adults that sit with us over Zoom calls are actually really passionate about the things we talk to them about.”

As a fully student-run organization, CASC works to equip California students with the leadership skills and civic knowledge to take charge of their own education with conferences like SABE. At the end of the conference, six select student speakers presented each policy proposal to the State Board of Education on Nov. 3, according to Hu.

After students present each solution, Hu, as the policy director, maintains contact with SBE members. If there are any prospective authors or supporters for the solution, they pursue them in the next step of the legislative cycle, according to Hu.

“No one is too young to really make a difference because all of our delegates today were anywhere from freshmen in high school to seniors in high school, and they made an impact,” Hu said. “I think it’s just recognizing that that in itself is important.”