We are at a pivotal moment regarding the future of our students, our workforce, our communities, and our economy – both locally and on a broader national level. With new data pointing to nearly two decades of growth in math and reading wiped away by the last two years, with student achievement gaps continuing to widen, and with ongoing concerns about the impact of current events, we must unite for student success. We have a small window of time to address large scale learning loss and the tremendous impact it has had, and will continue to have, on our state’s long-term goals. Now is the time – to try both new and existing interventions with a potential to combat learning loss and put every single kid on a path to  live the life they dream and that our economy demands.

Student voices must be heard loud and clear as we continue to make the necessary changes in an inclusive, meaningful, and impactful way and as discussions evolve into actions, policies, and practices. “Students have the biggest stake in the outcome of our approach to education and engaging them in conversations about what they need is critical,” said Jana Wilcox Lavin, CEO of Opportunity 180. “When kids have a voice in their educational experience, they can activate authentically around new ideas and practices to  ensure we keep student outcomes, and our students’ futures, as the focal point of decision-making.”

As we continue to amplify student voice, we are engaging in several upcoming events and projects. This week, on September 29th, we are hosting our annual North Star Summit, bringing together members of our community, including parents, business and education leaders, and elected officials. The purpose of this year’s Summit is to examine how broad, diverse groups of stakeholders have developed a common vision for student achievement and how they advanced key policies and practices that aligned to a vision grounded in student voice. From there, attendees will work collaboratively on identifying ideas and advancing next steps for improving educational outcomes in Nevada. Speakers include the CEO of TeachPlus, Kira Orange Jones, and “B is for Black Brilliance” CEO Shawna Wells, who will address developing and executing large-scale community activations with lasting, meaningful impact on educational outcomes for kids. We will be distilling and sharing some of the key themes and ideas from the event on this blog, so be sure to stay tuned.

Opportunity 180 is also supporting the Nevada Independent’s  IndyFest and the education-focused content on October 1-2, including the K-16 education panel and the student-led debate. Both of these programs will feature students either leading or playing a key role in the conversation around education. When we give students a seat at the table, they have new ways to shape the dialogue around their success and what it will take to get them there, as well as identify resources and practices that support their success – both academically and socio-emotionally. 

And on October 6, tune in for Flip the Script where we will welcome students from CCSD schools to interview CCSD Board of Trustee candidates in advance of the general election. This live-streamed event gives students an opportunity to develop their own questions, and then ask them to candidates seeking to represent their district. “Flip the Script gives students a direct line to candidates to share what is important to them and what they want to see in their schools,” said Wilcox Lavin. “Any opportunity to advance and celebrate student voices represents an opportunity for all of us to learn more about how we can better support kids in their educational experiences.” You can sign up to receive more information on the event here, but be sure to tune in to the livestream on our Facebook page or YouTube channel from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. on October 6. 

Keeping student voices at the forefront of these conversations and as new policies and practices are developed and shaped must be our number one focus if we are to confront the gravity of this moment and forge a new path to improve educational outcomes for every single student in Nevada. In doing so, we ensure that they are supported as they graduate from high school college and career-ready, prepared to live the life they dream.

Want to learn more about why student voice is important? Take a look at the below articles and resources, and sign the I Stand With Kids pledge to add your name to a growing coalition of Nevadans united for student success!