Our Turn’s growing movement is fighting for education justice. The solutions we’re proposing to our schools’ toughest issues are as diverse and audacious as our members who created them. Our Student Agenda is clear — education justice can’t wait. As young people, we should be able to thrive in our schools and communities.
As our schools continue to feel the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, our Student Agenda — released in 2020 and updated in 2023 — is critical in creating a system that is not only functional but just. Today’s students have experienced the difficult effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in ways that are vast and complex — impacting not only physical and mental health, but how schools operate, how students work and provide for their families, the increasingly politically volatile environment in the U.S., and more.
Developed by young people across the country, the Student Agenda is a one-of-a-kind values and policy framework that has been endorsed by 19 national and local organizations. This is our North Star. Each Pillar of the Student Agenda is a value statement — they boldly state what needs to change in our schools, districts, states, and beyond. And each pillar includes the Problem - what is going wrong, and the Pathways - how we make it right. As we continue to build a powerful movement of changemakers and fight for students now and in the future, will you join us?
For Adult Allies & Partner Organizations: First — share this with young people in your life. The Student Agenda is first and foremost a tool for young people to connect about shared experiences and build winning campaigns out of that. As a partner organization and/or adult ally, your next step should be to look into your network: where are the decision makers, power shifters, and those with influence sitting that need this Student Agenda? Share this with them. And — you can partner with us! Email Kayla at [email protected] to connect about how you can endorse and support the Student Agenda.
For Education Decision Makers: The Student Agenda includes problems & pathways. As decision makers around education, it's critical to understand both the lived experiences of students and the solutions they’re proposing, as the ones closest to the problems. We call on you to not only inform your priorities from the Student Agenda, but also to fully engage and receive input from students to support your decision making at scale. Learn more about our Youth Consultancy program here and hire experienced student trainers to bring more students to your decision making table.
Our Turn National Student Agenda
Safe, Thriving Schools & Communities
Read More +
Problem: Students across the country do not feel safe in schools. They do not feel safe from threats of gun violence, nor do they feel safe and cared for with increased policing, and systems that drive teachers out of classrooms. Students deserve safe schools where they can thrive, and where their safety and well being is invested in and put ahead of any political motivations.
- Pass Common Sense Gun Reform Policies that Protect Students: Pass state and federal legislation that prioritize community safety like background check requirements, raising the age to obtain a firearm, preventing domestic abusers from obtaining guns, and more.
- Decrease Policing, Increase Mental Health Supports: Build comprehensive safety plans for districts that decrease the number of police and metal detectors in schools, while increasing wrap-around services and mental health supports, such as decreasing the ratio of student to mental health professionals in schools.
- Pay Teachers Well & Support Their Growth and Well Being: Invest in communities and educators by paying teachers a living wage and implementing a just career ladder with opportunities for growth, particularly for teachers of color. Keeping teachers in the profession and supporting the growth of their skills will create healthier schools and more supported students.
- Policies that Support LGBTQ+ Students: Reject policies that harm LGBTQ+ students like book bans, drag bans, and trans-exclusionary policies in sports and with bathroom laws. Pass policies that protect queer and trans students and promote safety at school, including clear and explicit language protecting LGBTQ+ students from discrimination, and training staff to support LGBTQ+ students.
Nothing About Us, Without Us.
Read More +
Problem: Students deserve to have our voices heard, but are currently shut out of decision making processes. We are taught to value democracy and fair representation in school, now we are calling on our schools to uphold these values by empowering the voices of students to shape our education. Students—especially Black, Indigenous, and students of color—must be positioned as authentic partners in the decision-making process at every level of education.
- Voting Student Board Member: Every governing body in a district and schools must have student(s) representation with voting power. This representation should prioritize elevating BIPOC and marginalized students as leaders.
- Ongoing Feedback Cycle: Create and ensure there are multiple opportunities for students to directly share feedback and experiences beyond speaking at school board meetings.
- Accessible Board Meetings: Schedule board meetings that are easily accessible for students to engage and participate in. This includes but is not limited to: varying time frames that allow student participation, virtual testimony options, transportation provided for students, and student consultation in your district about accessibility.
Learning Centered on Justice
Read More +
Problem: With an onslaught of censorship legislation banning books and damaging truthful curriculum across the country, now is the time for students to reclaim and reimagine how schools teach us. Students deserve a holistic curriculum that dismantles white supremacy in public education. Students have the greatest understanding of what it takes to create a school culture that fosters a culture of belonging. We reject one-size-fits-all thinking; we have intersecting identities, and we deserve to thrive in school environments not despite but because of that. We demand restorative, collaborative, and culturally competent practices to fulfill our potential. Our country must reconcile with the wrongs of our past and lead a new pathway forward.
- Authentic Evaluation: School districts will conduct an internal audit to assess and evaluate where current standards, curriculum, and teaching methods derive from, and decolonize curriculum and textbooks in every subject area in all k-12 grade levels.
- Anti-Racist Courses: Develop and add courses that explicitly teach truthful history, rooted in anti-racism principles.
- Democracy-Building Practices: Contribute to building a successful democratic society by teaching civic engagement and passing automatic voter registration policy or supporting students in registering to vote in school.
- Shift Power Dynamics in Schools: Create school environments where students have a voice in decision making, and teachers and administration are able to receive and implement student feedback.
- Restorative Practices: Implement restorative disciplinary practices that focus on healing and fostering repaired behavior and relationships.
- Culturally Competent Curriculum & Training: Culturally competent curriculum and training for teachers and staff that sees students as full, complex human beings who benefit from their diverse cultural backgrounds.
Prioritize Our Mental Health
Read More +
Problem: There is a student mental health crisis on high school and college campuses across the country. Before we can expect high academic results and participation, we must prioritize and support the socio-emotional well-being of students. We must work to actively heal the trauma of both recent years of the COVID-19 pandemic and historic and generational years of systemic oppression. Our schools must play an active role in supporting students' basic needs.
- Mental Health Audit: Schools and districts must adequately assess and screen their students’ mental health and wellness, and build infrastructure to support the ongoing mental well being of students.
- Trained Teams of Support: We need full time, culturally competent, qualified mental health professionals, counselors, and social workers who are reflective of the student population in which they support. We also need proper ratios of mental health professionals to students to adequately support and meet student needs.
- Staff Training: Staff who are specifically trained to address the issues faced by the student body, including racial trauma, LGBTQ experiences, and poverty.
- Ongoing Anti-Bullying Policy & Restorative Practices: Schools must implement an ongoing and consistent anti-bullying curriculum, and implement restorative practices when bullying does occur in order to repair and heal school climate and culture, and provide positive pathways forward for all students involved.
Fully Invest in Our Futures.
Read More +
Problem: Across the country, districts and schools are deeply under and inequitably funded. Nowhere is systematic racism more transparent than in the unethical underfunding of our Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and schools. As young people, we are the leaders of the future, so it is our nation’s duty to invest in the potential of all students. Every child, regardless of their zip code, race, nationality, immigration status, sexuality, or gender identity, should be valued and invested in as individuals and historically marginalized groups. We demand funding practices that meet the needs and aspirations of our communities.
- Equitable Funding: Change formulas, budget cycles, and the process, to ensure accountability toward improved outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and students of color. Fund resources to supports students well being in an equitable way, including food and wrap around services.
- Accountable to Feedback: Integrate authentic student and community input & audits directly into budget allocations, at the levels of schools, districts, and states.
- Open Doors: Allow undocumented students to be eligible for in-state tuition.
- College Promise: Free higher education for disenfranchised youth & affordable, debt-free education for all.
- Life Skills: Teach life skills to students to help them thrive beyond the classroom, including financial literacy, college financial aid, comprehensive sex education, tax information, job training, and more.
- Access to Rigor: Increase diversity and support in advanced courses, ensuring that the makeup of AP or honors classes are representative of the school racially as a whole, and are funded and accessible to a wide range of students.
- College & Career Pathways: Teach students about a variety of options post-high school graduation, and support students in finding and achieving success in those pathways.
Ready To Join Our Movement?
Add Your Name & Take More Action
Across the country, we are elevating the perspectives and demands of young people to rewrite the rules for public education.
The LA Student Standard: A Collective Resistance
Schools are no exception to the long-standing impact of institutional racism in our country. White supremacy is in our textbooks, discipline practices, funding formulas, lower expectations, etc. Now is the time for LA Unified to lead the way in creating equitable and just school systems.
Tell City Council to Defund the Police Department
We are demanding that the Minneapolis City Council defund Minneapolis Police Department and invest those dollars to create safe and inclusive schools for Black and Brown students.
Push for More Equity in Minneapolis Schools
We’re elevating the voices of Minneapolis public school students to drive district-wide recommendations that combat inequities.
Demand Tuition Equity in North Carolina
Tell the NC Legislature that in-state college tuition should be the same for ALL North Carolina students, regardless of their citizenship and immigration status.
Demand Change in Colorado Public Schools
For too long, adult leaders have made decisions about our schools, our experiences, and our needs. But now, students are setting the agenda for the future of Colorado Public Schools. Support the Colorado Student Agenda by signing the petition and demanding leaders and elected officials take action.
It's Our Turn for Effective Educators
We demand Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) give students a voice in teacher evaluations and create a change and improvement to the evaluations of teachers.
COVID-19 Student Impact Report
We conducted a survey of young people in April 2020 to understand how COVID-19 is impacting them and their educational experiences.
Increasing College Access in Los Angeles
LAUSD’s current policy allowing students to fulfill graduation requirements with a “D” grade average is leaving students behind, unprepared for higher education.
Pause DPS Accountability System Conversations
We need to pause the committee from taking further action during this crisis so we can give families and students the time they need to process the difficulties they are facing.
North Carolina Credit Recovery
We are fighting to increase transparency around credit recovery programs, and institute a GPA requirement in North Carolina high schools.
Minnesota Project Equity Report
Our Turn Minnesota undertook a massive survey of current and former students, and then published the results, which formed the basis for Our Turn's current Project Equity Campaign.
Denver Board of Education Superintendent Candidate
In 2018, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education planned to appoint a new superintendent. We demanded that the board take Our Turn recommendations into consideration.
MPS Police in Schools
We demanded the Minneapolis Public School Board re-open their contract with the local police department to ensure K-12 students are #ProtectedNotSuspected.