Eleni Livingston and Rana Banankhah, both 17 years old, are voting members of their states’ board of education. They help decide high school graduation requirements, determine teacher qualifications and develop state student assessments. They also bridge the gender gap in education leadership—since women make up only 31 percent of school district chiefs. Their experiences show the importance of student voices in policymaking.
“On the board it can be intimidating to go in, as a young woman, as a teenager, into an environment like that and jump right in and start advocating for my peers,” Livingston said.
“To be treated like an adult, even though I can’t even vote for [U.S.] president, was really eye-opening,” Banankhah said.