Recent Press

Oakland Youth Vote

Mental health, safety, and closures take center stage at Oakland school board candidate forum

“Dozens of students, families, and other community members attended a youth-led school board forum on Tuesday night, where all nine of the candidates discussed their platforms and visions for the district.  …” (read full article here)

Oakland Students Won the Right to Vote in School Board Elections (Teen Vogue)

“… In response, Oakland student organizers testified, wrote letters, drafted legislation, and secured 300 endorsements before putting a successful resolution before the Oakland City Council to put the youth vote on the ballot. This month, Oakland voters passed Measure QQ by wide margins to join the handful of cities across the nation that allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board elections, the culmination of years of work by a coalition of Oakland student organizations …” (read full article here)

The Passing of Oakland’s Measure QQ and the Future of Our Democracy (KQED)

“… ‘Chen says young people having the right to vote is important, even if it’s just for school board members. “Before we had the vote, (parents) were voting for us. And now that we have the vote, we can use our power and make the best decisions to benefit our own education,” says Chen. “We are the students learning, not the parents.’ …” (read full article here)

Youth Organizers Mobilizing for Voting Rights Confront ‘Adultist’ Attitudes (San Francisco Public Press)

” …’What I mean by power dynamic is just the fact that these adultist kind of ideas ingrained in education, that being older means you’re wiser means, you know, means you have just natural superiority over other people. When in reality, it’s a collaboration of not just the teachers and the principals, but also the students because they are the ones who are ultimately benefiting from these institutions. They’re the main beneficiaries, and recipients of things that go down in our school district.’ — Ixchel Arista …” (read full article here)

More cities consider letting 16-year-olds vote in local elections (Washington Post)

“… ‘We already are given so many responsibilities,’ said Ixchel Arista, 15, a youth leader with Oakland Kids First in California. ‘We have jobs. We pay taxes. And some of us take care of our siblings’ …” (read full article here)

Learning by Voting: Students Want the Right to Make a Difference in Real Life (KQED)

“… ‘These cuts, coupled with students’ ongoing frustrations over successive reductions in critical services, helped inspire the All City Council and Oakland Kids First to join forces to launch the youth vote campaign in fall 2019 as a way to hold the school board accountable to young people in the district, Brekke-Miesner said.’ …” (read full article here)

Gema Quetzal (Stanford ’23) Organizes for Oakland Youth Vote (Medium)

“… ‘I strongly believe in making sure that I never leave my community and that I never stop working with my community. Everything I do is for my community. And so I just hope I hold on to that motivation,” Quetzal said. “It’s challenging, but it’s worth it.’ …” (read full article here)

California student activists push to lower voting age to advocate for change (EdSource)

“… ‘We need to make sure the school board is accountable for student voices and needs,” Quetzal said, during a recent virtual campaign launch, for Oakland’s Measure QQ, which would extend the right to vote for school board candidates to 16- and 17-year-olds. “This campaign was developed and carried out by amazing student leaders and organizers and I’m thrilled to fight alongside with them’ …” (read full article here)

These Teens Are Leading the Fight to Lower the Voting Age (Teen Vogue)

“… ‘And we felt that this was a first step, because we are students, and schools impact us the most because we are there every day,’ Malia Liao tells Teen Vogue. Malia, 17, a high school student and organizer with Oakland Kids First, was part of the Bay Area city’s recent successful effort to put a charter amendment on the November ballot that, if passed, will enable 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in school board elections …” (read full article here)

Oakland students may get to vote for school board members (Oaklandside)

“…’We saw the teachers’ strike as kind of like an eye-opener to see how our issues weren’t met, our needs weren’t met,’ said Malia Liao, a junior at Oakland Technical High School. ‘We decided to push this forward so that our school board is responsive to the needs of students.’ …” (read full article here)

Oakland voters to decide if youth should vote in school elections (Mercury News)

“… During the past year, these students researched the political process to bring forth a ballot measure and built alliances with community organizations, engaged with council members and school board directors to gather support for the measure. ‘Oakland Youth Vote is a critical opportunity to expand our democracy by elevating the voices and centering the needs of students who are most impacted by OUSD’s policies,’ said Lukas Brekke-Miesner, executive director of Oakland Kids First, in a statement …” (read full article here)

Oakland Lawmakers Put Youth School Board Voting on November Ballot (CBS Bay Area)

“… It was action by youth leaders in Los Angeles recently that inspired Oakland youth to start working on the idea, said Lukas Brekke-Miesner with Oakland Kids First, a group that provides a voice and power for youth in schools. When Oakland youth learned that L.A. youth were exploring the idea of youth voting in school board elections, they asked, ‘Could we do that here?’ Brekke-Miesner said …” (read full article here)

San Francisco And Oakland Considering Lowering The Voting Age (KSRO Sonoma County)

“… KPIX reports that Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan penned the Oakland Youth Vote measure, which would make Oakland the fifth city in the country to allow youth aged 16 and up to vote. Across the bay in San Francisco, a proposed charter amendment would also give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in city elections …” (read full article here)

Oakland city council to decide on allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in school board elections (KTVU News)

“… The Oakland Youth Vote measure, authored by City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, has garnered support from the Mayor Libby Schaaf as well as other city leaders and local organizations. The measure is expected to be on the November ballot and, if passed, would make Oakland the fifth city in the nation to allow people as young as 16 to vote …” (read full article here)

Supper Win

Students, district rally to bring back free supper program (Oakland North)

“… Although Oakland students can already receive free breakfast and lunch, activists said that some kids were not getting enough to eat during the school day. Roxana Franco, lead organizer at Oakland Kids First, said the students had common complaints: ‘The lines are too long, we have 30 minutes to grab food, by the time I’m to the front, I have two minutes left to eat and I’m not allowed to eat in class.’ …” (read full article here)

Student Organizers Secure $3.6 Million for Healthy Food for OUSD Youth (Post News Group)

“… Student organizers with Oakland Kids First (OKF) secured $3.6 million over the next two years to improve healthy food options for Oak­land public school students. Oakland Tech student orga­nizer Malia Liao added, “To witness the City of Oakland lis­ten to and center student voice means everything to me …” (read full article here)

Teacher’s Strike

Oakland Schools Supe Proposes Reducing Cuts from $15 Million to $9 Million (East Bay Express)

“… Riawna Pope, an Oakland High student with the group Oakland Kids First, presented the board with a petition that has gathered over 2,000 signatures and calls for balancing the budget by reducing spending in the district central administration. Numerous other public speakers reiterated this same message: that cuts should fall on the administration, which consumes a disproportionately larger proportion of the district’s budget compared to other Bay Area school districts …” (read full article here)

Oakland School Board Members Apologize for Mid-Year Budget Cuts at Packed Board Meeting (East Bay Express)

“… ‘My school, Castlemont, is one of the most under-resourced schools in this district,” said Karla Briseño, a student organizer with the group Oakland Kids First. “Sometimes it feels like schools like mine don’t matter as we are left behind.’ …” (read full article here)

How to close schools? Oakland finds out just how tough that can be (Ed Source)

“… Oakland Unified students who are part of the Oakland Kids First Youth Organizing Council ask the school board not to close schools on June 19, 2019. Months after Oakland’s first teachers strike in nearly a quarter century, the district is still trying to make its way through the most difficult challenge any district faces: deciding what schools to close, while at the same time fending off community opposition …” (read full article here)

Oakland Unified board approves budget despite doubts about its accuracy (Ed Source)

“… Peter Truong, a program manager for the nonprofit Oakland Kids First organization, told the board that the report ‘highlights the irresponsibility of the district.’ He added: ‘Passing this budget does not address the bureaucratic bloat.’ …” (read full article here)