The first half of 2019 clarified our mission in higher education reform: we are building a vehicle for people impacted by the crumbling public education system so they can get the power to transform that system to fit their needs.
In April, we saw an opportunity to push Ohio’s budget to reflect a pro-student and pro-teacher vision. We pulled together leaders from student groups, policy shops, college access navigators, and major education profession unions to develop a shared platform and strategy to train our members to advocate for their needs in the statehouse and in their local newspapers.
Ten OSA members came together to share their stories and policy recommendations to the House Higher Education Committee, and two of those students went on to co-facilitate a testimony and public narrative training for 20 students in Columbus.
A grassroots research team started compiling profiles on legislators to identify their voting history and reached out to schedule research actions, which resulted in student-led meetings with 15 legislators.
A student leader has now taken the initiative to turn that research team into a body that can provide intel for the movement as a whole.
Our grassroots lobbying culminated in testimonies and lobby visits during OOC’s People’s Assembly, where 100 people from across the state stormed the statehouse to present their needs to the people in power.
We’ve already seen victories: we tightened a corporate tax loophole that was taking $200 million from kids and giving it to lawyers and lobbyists, we secured increases to state financial aid, and we introduced an amendment to radically change the way the state allocates financial aid, opening it up community college students and allowing them to use that funding for housing, food, and other expenses.
Our political advocacy arm is back up and running, but we know that strategy alone will not shift the culture that devalues young people, especially young people of color.