Advocating For A Student Voice : a guest blog by André Gonzales

Jason GriffinNews

It began as a simple address to the Board, “Hello my name is André Gonzales and…”. I poured my heart out as much as three minutes would allow me to and needless to say, I raised a whole lot of eyebrows. I mean aren’t students supposed to be apathetic towards anything that doesn’t involve the Kardashians or The Walking Dead? Why was this 17 year old in there talking about giving students a seat at the table when it comes to discussions on education issues? Despite the criticism and confusion, I stood my ground and continued to advocate.

For about six months I kept reinforcing the need for student representation and advocacy in my district along with a team of fellow students and mentors. Whether it was going to education summits or talking with community leaders or writing for our local newspaper, we knew we had to keep advocating. We finally got some attention from the public and finally on August 5, 2015 we had a chance to pitch this idea to the School Board for them to vote on. When my friend/partner in crime and I went up there to address the Board I had absolutely no idea how they were going to vote, there was a real possibility that this initiative we had worked on for six months could be rejected right before our very eyes. After hearing us out and quite a bit of debate, Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education voted and formally established their very own Student Advisory Council. It was at that moment that LCPS made it absolutely clear that they stick to their motto of “Where Kids Come First” and it was at this moment where LCPS joined the ranks of school districts around the nation who have a formal space for students to talk about what happens in the classroom.

I was told that I was trying to do the impossible, that I was being a community disorganizer instead of an activist. I was told that no matter how hard I tried, my community wasn’t prepared for what I was trying to establish. I was told that a Student Advisory Council would not happen in Las Cruces for at least another three years. And yet here we are today, giving students a voice in their own education.