UHS students participate in annual IUSD Sacramento Advocacy Trip

Mrs. Judy Richonne (Staff), courtesy Jessica Shin
Ms. Judy Richonne (Staff), Lydia Wang (Jr.), Andre Luu (Sr.), Jessica Shin (Sr.), Charles Xu (Sr.), and Jennifer Kodia (Jr.) courtesy Jessica Shin

On March 11, University High School (UHS) students Jessica Shin (Sr.), Andre Luu (Sr.), Charlie Xu (Jr.), Jennifer Kodia (Jr.) and Lydia Wang (Jr.) participated in the annual student advocacy trip to Sacramento. The UHS team joined students throughout Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) high schools during the trip.
The UHS Student Advocacy team spoke to Sacramento representatives, including Democrat President pro Tempore Darrel Steinberg , President of the Senate Gavin Newsom and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan . The team asked questions regarding education in California, especially focusing on funding and teacher training associated with the recently implemented Common Core program.
Xu said, “One valuable lesson that I learned is that essentially all of our problems in education boil down to a lack of money. Sacramento simply has too little money to properly implement Common Core and to enact any reforms in education, so unless our financial situation changes, we will have to make do with what we have.”
In addition to voicing concerns about the state’s limited expenditure on student tuition in public schools, the IUSD student representatives also asked questions regarding the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which, according to the California Department of Education, “creates concentration grants in place of most previously existing K–12 funding” sources.In preparation for the Sacramento Advocacy trip, the UHS students held two teacher forums during which they spoke with various UHS teachers, including Mr. Eric Shulman (Math Dept.) and Ms. Teresa Ozoa (English Dept.), about the specific improvements they want to see in the public education system.
In addition, the students attended five meetings at each of the IUSD high schools to talk with IUSD district staff, including IUSD superintendant Terry Walker and ex-Vice President of the School Services of California Bob Blattner.
When asked about her experiences on the Sacramento trip, Shin said, “The trip this year was more organized than last year’s trip. We implemented smaller, more focused groups that students distributed themselves into in order to have more in-depth questions. In addition, this year, we asked the hard-hitting questions of why our schools were being funded less than prisons and how the state was going to take responsibilities of the lag time that will result from the poor common core implementation.” Wang said, “Our day at Sacramento was long, but every moment was definitely worth it. More than anything, this trip taught me that people of any age can be the voice for the change they want to see.”
Ms. Judy Richonne (Social Science Dept.) accompanied the students on their trip to Sacramento. She said, “When politicians acted like politicians and skirted answers, our advocates came back with determination and doggedly pursued the answers. The students were well-prepared, focused and did not let up! We should be proud of all our Irvine students – we were well represented.”
Staff Writer