August 2016 Student Organization Feature — Houston Independent School District Student Congress

There are many student organizations similar to Student Voice who share a common mission: to make sure all students can have a voice in their education. As a part of Student Voice’s new Monday night programming structure, we are working to feature the work that these organizations are doing. On the third Monday night of each month, Student Voice will feature a different student run organization. We are continuing to build our network and recognize just how valuable and important other organization’s work is and as a result, we hope to make you, our followers, more informed and aware of all the groundbreaking work being completed.

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) Student Congress is a completely student run organization that was founded by a group of passionate high school students in September 2014. When the student group was founded, their main intention was to serve as a group who could bridge the communication gap between the school district board, and the student body.

In order to learn more about what the organization does, we interviewed two members of the organization: Jessica DeBoe, the Speaker of the Congress, and Zoe Parker, the Governance chair. When asked about the work that they have done, here is what they had to say:

SV: How does your organization help students?

HISD: Our organization helps students by giving students a voice in their own education. We are a channel in which students can share their stories and concerns with the district, and we strive to better the education and overall lives of students all across the district.

SV: Since we are focusing on a student’s’ right to due process this month, what do you guys think the right to due process means to you and your organization?

HISD: We interpret “Due Process” as the right for students to be able to have a say in their lives within HISD and their educational learning experiences. We believe that students should be able to speak up and connect with their teachers, administrators, and community leaders in order to give input on ways in which their schools can improved.

SV: What does student voice mean to your organization?

HISD: Student voice is at the core of our organization’s values. Our organization allows the students to speak on and to address issues or problems that occur in their education, and see that city and district leaders find a solution in the matter. The student voice is the only genuine voice that is uncorrupted and unbiased in the education system. The students are the ones sitting in the classroom, truly being affected by decisions made on the city, state, and national level.

SV: Can you share a story that exemplifies what you are doing to provide students with greater agency in their education and community?

HISD: This past summer, the HISD Student Congress held a student-led education summit in downtown Houston where community leaders, board members, students, teachers, and members of congress participated in a panel discussion in order to discuss and commit to solving some of the many issues facing schools in Houston and Texas as a whole. This was the first time that any meeting like this had ever been held, especially one where students were allowed to speak on the same level as legislators. We received valuable commitments from the majority of attendees along with very positive feedback from panelists. We plan to make these summits an annual tradition in order to allow students to have a say in their education for years to come.

Want to learn more about the work that the HISD does? Visit their website at https://hisdstudentcongress.org/ or follow them on Twitter (@HISDStuCon) to stay connected.

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