On Monday, February 18th, Oregonian’s from across the state joined Stand For Children, including Oregon Student Voice, to lobby legislators in Salem. We advocated for the full funding of Measure 98—a ballot initiative passed in 2016 to help schools expand career and technical education, college readiness programs, and dropout prevention.
Upon arriving, we were divided into groups, with which they learned more about Measure 98 and other legislative priorities. We then participated in a training that showed how to lobby effectively through storytelling, a skill they put into practice among their teams with the guidance of Stand facilitators. Just before noon, groups headed over to the Capitol, which was teeming with activity as thousands of teachers, students, and families rallied on the steps for school funding. Then, we dove into a series of meetings with legislators, 15 minute sessions that gave everyone the opportunity to share their story.
For me, it was an amazing way to hear how others had been affected by Measure 98, as well as hear policymakers’ different perspectives on it. Students, including myself, shared how Measure 98 gave us access to AP courses and skill-based courses, such as graphic design and robotics, which we would not have been able to take without the increased funding. These courses Teachers explained how Measure 98 helped them try different teaching techniques and classroom practices, which increased student engagement in the classroom. Parents described how their students were more excited to attend school and learn due to the increased opportunities offered. It was really powerful for me to hear the many different ways Measure 98 has positively impacted communities across Oregon.
In breaks between legislative meetings, participants had the opportunity to watch the Senate Education Committee Meeting and Measure 98 panel presentations. Viewers were able to hear more stories about the effectiveness of Measure 98 programs in districts like Roseburg, which succeeded in raising its attendance rate, and even were treated to first-hand testimony from affected students themselves.
OSV hopes this experience inspired participants to remain and become more civically engaged, on a statewide level but also within their own schools and communities. We are immensely grateful to the many individuals who attended this Lobby Day, to lend their voices to an issue which concerns the education of Oregon’s future leaders.
Jessica Yu is a senior at West Linn School and is a member of Oregon Student Voice, a youth-led nonprofit that empowers all students to be authentic partners in making decisions that affect their K-12 education.