In 2019 Young Organizer’s United (Y.O.U.) won their campaign for student voice on the Manchester Board of School Committee. For nearly two years, the youth leaders of Y.O.U. went back and forth with the Board – the Board agreed to allow student reps on the Board and then decided to have students report to the Board, rather than actually sit on the Board!
In May of 2019, Y.O.U decided to put a non-binding question on the municipal ballot which simply asked “Do you support student representation on the Board?”
The entire process of getting the question on the ballot, mobilizing support for the question, surveying candidates for municipal office about their stance on the question and ensuring victory for the question at the polls was the work of the year and a great civic education for Y.O.U! First, the Board of Mayor and Alderman had to agree to place the question on the ballot, which took several rounds of testimony before the board. Next, the youth mailed and emailed a three question candidate survey, which included the student voice issue, to 63 candidates for municipal office 9Click here to read the survey and results) . The youth tallied the survey results and decided to hold a candidate forum for candidates for Board of School Committee and Alderman. Sixteen candidates for school committee and ten candidates for Alderman appeared at the forum, which was completely planned and moderated by Y.O.U. members. In September, the youth turned their focus to ensuring that the general public knew about and supported, student voice. Y.O.U. members door knocked, they held visibility actions and spoke to labor unions, civic groups and faith communities about the importance of the campaign. Their work was rewarded on Election Day when more than 74% of Manchester’s voters voted Yes for Student representation