The National Youth Association is devoted to a society in which youth and students are able to grow to their fullest potential while acting as agents of social change in the world they will inherit. We recognize education as an opportunity to empower today’s youth; a catalyst in eradicating major conflicts within the United States. Not only is education an issue of social justice, but it is vital to the survival of our economy and our nation. During past years, however, lawmakers around the country have issued crushing funding cuts for public education programs. We at the National Youth Association firmly oppose misguided cuts to education funding and will fight on your behalf to uphold teacher quality and scholastic programs.
These cuts have swept the country both by magnitude and scale. During the last fiscal year, thirty-four states have cut funding for K-12 education while forty-three states have cut support for state universities. During the past two years, public schools in California have suffered $17 billion in cuts, Illinois has anticipated the loss of 17,000 teaching staff, and New York has proposed a $1 billion cut in education aid.
We, the undersigned, in order to secure a better future, expect an education that prepares us for the globalized economy, an education that expects excellence for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, or disability. We seek to protect student rights in the face of state deficits, and we petition policy makers to revert misguided cuts in public education that harm the development and competitiveness of today’s youth as problem solvers of the future by recognizing the following provisions:
1. Students shall possess the right to qualified, engaged, and passionate teachers.
Teachers shall have a college degree with appropriate certification in the subject they teach and remain current in their academic fields.
2. The right to unfettered access to current textbooks, school supplies, and supplementary learning materials.
Schools shall make technology, workbooks, and supplements required for coursework available to students.
3. The right to security and privacy in their persons and their possessions on and around campus.
Students shall attend school without experiencing physical, emotional, or psychological bullying by peers, faculty, or the local community. Penalties against students, when they arise, shall observe due process and reasonably justify the offense.
4. The right to adequate facilities that encourage learning.
School buildings shall have comfortable temperature, sufficient light, and clean rooms, desks, and washrooms in order to provide good conditions for learning.
5. The right to challenging courses, enrichment activities, and after school activities (sports, clubs, etc.) that support academic needs, social needs, and personal development.
Schools shall provide courses and tutoring services, create opportunities that address students’ academic passion and curiosity, provide arts and athletics programs that enrich the soul and which develop a person holistically, and prepare them for global opportunities.
6. The right to physical education opportunities and nutritious school meals.
Schools shall provide physical education in curriculums and observe nutrition standards set by the Secretary of Agriculture in order to combat the social consequences and long-term health risks of childhood obesity.
7. The right to social, emotional, and post-high school counseling services.
Counseling opportunities enable students to explore their future potential, college readiness, and access to specialized programs as well as find emotional support.
8. The right to a transparent, effective, and engaged administration that enforces school policies impartially and interacts with an elected student government.
Administrators shall have open mind and open door policies to address student concerns honestly, provide rationale for school decisions, support family and community involvement, and place student interests at the forefront of decision making.
9. The right to transportation to and from secondary schools.
In regions with inadequate public transportation, local and magnet secondary schools shall ensure safe and speedy transportation routes for all students.
10. The right to accessible early childhood education, free public secondary education, and reasonable costs to post-secondary education (college tuition, etc.)
Early education reduces juvenile crime and dropout rates, and secondary and post-secondary educations are necessary in most fields to develop competitive individuals in the global marketplace.
11. The right to an appropriate student-teacher ratio.
This ratio should be based on student age, course content, and student needs.
12. The right to freely express ideas and beliefs.
Schools shall respect, advocate, and protect student rights of expression and assembly to the extent that the law allows.
13. The right to fair and standards-based grading systems.
Schools shall enact fair, standards-based grading policies that are a fair representation of a student’s mastery of a subject.
Student’s Bill of Rights developed by the Chicago Education Summit Team, Illinois Council of Students, and the National Youth Association.
We, the undersigned, dedicate this petition to the National Governor’s Association, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and House Committee on Education and Labor in hopes that they may share our struggle.