Learning Democracy by Doing – Participatory Budgeting in Schools

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With the amount of time students spend in school, nearly 1000 hours per year, it’s surprising how little say they have in their schools’ priorities. What if a school gave its students more choice in their education? What if it gave young people the ability to make collective decisions, while promoting youth leadership and teamwork?

For the past year, PBP has been building a campaign to start PB in Schools, to tap into student expertise in making choices that affect them most, while engaging young people in participatory democracy! PBP supporters provided initial funding for this work through PB2 – our own PB process that lets PBP donors decide how their donations are spent.

PB is good for schools, students and communities.

Schools and school districts operate large and complex budgets – often with minimal participation from the community members and youth they work to serve. But it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s time we pave the way towards effective youth engagement in democratic processes. School PB encourages transparency in school budgets, reveals the most pressing needs of students and promotes democratic decisions that result in better schools and neighborhoods.

The most amazing aspect of PB in Schools is the impact on students, who grow their leadership skills. Youth leadership has been linked to decreased dropout rates, higher career aspirations, positive self-esteem and countless other benefits.,

Because of the opportunities PB in Schools provides to both schools and students, we are developing partnerships with schools and youth organizations to amplify and empower student voices, and working to build tools that integrates PB into the classroom. We’ve also created a group of over 10 educators and organizers working with PB in or with schools across North America, to collect ideas, resources and best practices.

Wins so far

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Working with Californians for Justice, we helped launch the biggest school PB process in the US, in San Jose. Students, parents, and staff at Overfelt High School are deciding together how to spend $50,000.

But of course, we need support to make PB in Schools a reality! To start PB, schools require support with staff time, PB materials, and technical assistance. We need your help in making that happen! Support our work to empower youth and student voices and donate today!

To learn more about participatory budgeting in schools, check out our PB in Schools Info Sheet here.

Do you think students should have a say in school budgets?

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