California State PTA Supports SB 291: Giving Students a Voice Act

By Melanie Lucas, Education Legislation Advocate

SB 291

California State PTA supports a bill that would give students a seat at the table on a special needs advisory board.

Roughly 800,000 students in California receive special education services which make up about 12.5% of the total student population according to the California Department of Education.

Currently, the 17-member Advisory Commission on Special Education (ASCE) exists to, among other things, study and provide assistance and advice to the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Legislature, and the Governor in new or continuing areas of research, program development, and evaluation in special education.

SB 291 seeks to give our students a seat at the table by forming a ten-member advisory council made up of students ages 16 to 24, with exceptional needs from across the state to advise the Advisory Commission of Special Education (ASCE) on their experiences in special education. This bill also adds one member of the new student advisory council to the ASCE with full voting rights, bringing  the commission to 18 members.  

California State PTA believes that representation matters. Giving our students, the most impacted stakeholders, a voice will lead to a much stronger understanding of their lived experiences resulting in better experiences for current and future students in special education.