May 23, 2018
School & Youth
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Josie Urrea Earns Student Seat On The Anne Arundel County Board Of Education

Judy Tacyn
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May 2, 2018

Josie Urrea, a junior at Severna Park High School, was elected by members of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils on April 19 to be the 2018-2019 student member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Governor Larry Hogan will make the formal appointment before she is sworn in for her one-year term on July 1.

Urrea will become the 45th student member of the board (SMOB). Students have held a seat on the board since 1974. Anne Arundel County’s student member has had full voting rights since 1975, and is the only member of a local school board in the nation to have that privilege.

The Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC) is the Anne Arundel County Regional Branch of student government. Urrea is the current president of the student activist group representing all 83,000 students in Anne Arundel County on local and state levels. Members ensure that the student voice is being heard on issues regarding policy and laws that affect students.

“I joined CRASC at the end of my seventh-grade year. I went to an officer election through my middle school student government association and immediately fell in love with the dynamic of the organization,” said Urrea. “I started to go to meetings, then applied to be the middle school coordinator co-chair, where I became close friends with my now vice president, Anthony Liberatori. The organization was like my dream, a place where students feel empowered to reach their goals and change their community.”

As president of CRASC, Urrea presides over meetings, writes agendas and represents students countywide. This year, she helped select a new adviser and represented CRASC on the School Board Appointment Commission.

“I have advocated for more cultural proficiency training and changing the word ‘tolerance’ in the curriculum along with specific regards of the redo policy, quarterly assessments, construction, teacher pay and the most recent being the development of more engaging tactics for teaching students that we need to embrace and celebrate our diversity in schools to combat the growing racially motivated behaviors,” said Urrea.

“It is important that students have a voice at local and state levels because not only does it empower us, but it shows [students] how to think as a global citizen,” she continued. “When you represent others, you are putting their interests in your hands.”

Urrea called mental health and school safety two of the pressing issues. “Many students want to feel safe in schools without turning [schools] into prisons,” said Urrea. “As the 2018-2019 SMOB election, these topics are my primary focuses. I want AACPS to take a proactive rather than reactive approach to school safety, and start looking at how we can make our school environments healthier and more supportive of our students.”

In her election and Board of Education public comment speeches, Urrea stated that school safety starts with the simple change of the word “tolerance” to embrace and celebrate our diversity.

“I also want to review our disciplinary guidelines to ensure they display that our county has zero tolerance for racially motivated behavior,” said Urrea. “Our schools also need to bond together, and I proposed creating a panel similar to the ‘Not my Child’ one but comprised of victims of biased motivated behavior to travel to schools telling their raw and emotional stories.”

The Board of Education members, along with Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Arlotto, appreciate the insight Urrea will share.

“Josie has been a strong voice for students across our school system in CRASC and as a member of the Superintendent’s Teen Advisory,” Arlotto. “I have no doubt she will continue that passionate advocacy as a member of the board.”

In addition to serving as the current CRASC president, Urrea has also served as second vice president and middle school coordinator of the organization. She is a member of Arlotto’s Teen Advisory group, and serves as the student commissioner on the School Board Nominating Commission of Anne Arundel County.

 


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