Since 2009, Young Voices youth have had a major impact on issues affecting public education across the state:
- Youth worked as part of a statewide coalition to get a fair state education funding formula established for the first time. For 15 years, Rhode Island operated without a funding formula based on population, demographics, or income. This meant that districts like Providence were underfunded by more than $37 million a year. More than 30 youth submitted testimony at State House budget hearings. The funding formula was successfully established, and has been fully funded by the state for the past four years.
- For more than 6 years, our youth have worked with the ACLU and other partners to successfully push back graduation requirements that disproportionally impact low-income youth and youth of color, particularly the use of a high-stakes test as a graduation requirement. In 2010, we organized more than 300 people to attend hearings and successfully pushed these graduation requirements back for three years. Then, in 2014, we organized again, and succeeded in getting legislation passed that prohibits the use of a high-stakes test for graduation until 2017. We are continuing our efforts to ensure that no young person is denied their diploma because of this requirement.
- For the past two years, our youth have testified at the State House about the discipline practices currently taking place at their schools, educating legislators about the importance of strengthening current laws to ensure that students are not suspended and missing valuable classroom time for minor offenses.
- Youth also played a major role in helping our state to obtain $75 million in Race to the Top funds. This including sitting on a committee with our state’s major education players, as well as flying to DC along with the Education Commissioner, Governor, and State House leadership to advocate RI’s successful case for funding.