Students have the power to stop the destructive forces that are ruining their education and treating them as data points, not humans who want to learn. They are holding a conference in Los Angeles, where they will discuss strategies to resist school closings, high-stakes testing, data mining, and other current efforts to turn their educational opportunity into an opportunity for entrepreneurs to use them. They can learn from the creative tactics of the Providence Student Union, which has utilized politicl theater to gain public support.

Go, students, go! You own the future. Don’t let the profiteers, bureaucrats, technocrats, and futurists steal it.


Media Contact:

Hannah Nguyen
University of Southern California
Phone: (408) 644-9717
Email address:

USC Hosts EmpowerED 2014 Conference to Highlight Student Voice and Organizing in Education

Students everywhere are tired of feeling powerless
when it comes to decisions about their education.
That’s why they’re fighting back.

LOS ANGELES, MARCH 23 — On Saturday, March 29, at the University of Southern California, over 130 youth from all over Los Angeles will participate in EmpowerED: Los Angeles Student Power 2014. EmpowerED is a student-led education conference that will engage the local student community in discussing and strategizing what it will take to transform our education system to serve all students –and incorporate student voices.

EmpowerED 2014 is hosted by Students United for Public Education’s LA Chapter as a part USC EdMonth. This will be SUPE-LA’s first major event and the first EdMonth event to include local students in a discussion about educational policy issues.

EmpowerED will provide an opportunity for students in LA to learn about the student organizing that is expanding throughout the country, raise their voices on important educational issues, develop leadership and organizing skills, and collaborate with their peers on how to build a movement for student power. Israel Muñoz, co-founder of the Chicago Students Union who has spoken about his experiences on NBC and TED, will deliver the keynote address.

“Students spend most of their day in school, but almost never have a voice when it comes to decisions about their education. My fellow student organizers and I are tired of feeling powerless and have organized student unions to make sure our voices are heard,” says Muñoz. “We are very excited to share our stories with LA students, as well as hear their experiences and work with them to build a stronger local and national student movement. I am honored to be a part of a groundbreaking event that fosters peer-to-peer student empowerment and youth voice.”

Israel Muñoz marches with the Chicago Students Union
to protest mass school closings in his community.

The conference will bring together leading high school student activists from across the country who have organized and led student unions in response to the lack of student voice in top-down policies of the current education reform movement, such as high stakes testing, budget cuts, and mass school closings. In Los Angeles, these policies have further destabilized already under-resourced communities through cutbacks on the arts and humanities, mass teacher layoffs, and the reconstitution of major high schools like Crenshaw and Dorsey.

These experiences run nationwide. As such, EmpowerED will host a discussion panel with Providence Student Union’s Cauldierre McKay, Portland Student Union’s Sekai Edwards, Newark Students Union’s Kristin Towkaniuk, LA’s Coalition for Educational Justice organizer Taylor Broom, Alliance for Educational Justice’s Tre Murphy, and Chicago Students Union’s Israel Munoz.

A large part of the event will consist of hands-on, interactive workshops and open forums. There will be workshops led by all speakers and panelists on various topics such as student unionism, creative direct actions, public speaking, social media, and LA-specific movements for educational justice and student voice. Community groups like K-12 News Network and the California Student Union will also lead workshops on student voice in the budget and student organizing at the college level.

At the end of the day, students will have the unique opportunity to generate artwork that portrays their vision for student voice in education. This artwork will then be displayed in an exhibit called Collective Voice: The Wisdom of Young People on Education, at a 2015 national educational conference in Washington DC.

There will be a Livestream of the event for those who cannot make it to LA to attend. For more information about the EmpowerED 2014 conference and to access the Livestream video on the day of the event, go to

View our promo video:

Follow Us on Twitter: @empowerED_2014


Local media is invited to attend the conference on Saturday, March 29, 2014 to:

Interview EmpowerED attendees and speakers during lunch (12:00 – 12:30 PM)
Capture footage of the featured student organizing panel (12:30 – 1:30 PM)

About Students United for Public Education

Students United for Public Education (SUPE) evolved out of the work of college students involved in defending public education from its attackers. In particular, SUPE was founded to fill a void in the movement for public education — before SUPE, there was no national student organization devoted solely to this cause. Under the guise of “closing the achievement gap” and “school choice,” for-profit corporations and their political representatives have sought to privatize and sell off public education. SUPE understands that a profit motive cannot guarantee a good education. Instead, only a robust and well-supported public education system — along with the courage and will to directly confront problems of racial and economic inequality — can provide a quality education for all.

SUPE is a community based organization because we know that public schools are the heart of every community. In other words, SUPE understands that in order for our goals to be reached, we must fight with K-12 students, parents, teachers, and community members and elevate their essential voices. We aim to work with communities to find out what their needs are, and have them lead the way in the struggle as we work as equals to organize the change they believe is best. Find out more about Students United for Public Education at:

About USC EdMonth

EdMonth at USC is the first national student-led movement and discussion about the state of education in our country. Downtown Los Angeles and the USC campus will serve as the backdrop for educators, parents, policy makers, business leaders, elected officials, engaged citizens and students to engage in a national, collegiate student-driven discussion on the issue of improving education in our country. USC EdMonth is organized by the USC Academic Culture Assembly and USC Program Board. Find out more at:

© Copyright 2014 University of Southern California. All rights reserved.

Hannah Nguyen
(408) 644-9717
University of Southern California | B.A. Sociology
Students United for Public Education | Co-National Organizer
USC EdMonth | Executive Board Member
EmpowerED 2014 | Executive Director