PPS Launches Students and Government Council


Members of the PPS SAGC | Photo credit: PPS Student Voice

Dylan Shapiro, Education Writer

The 2019-2020 PPS Students and Government Council (SAGC) is officially up and running! The SAGC is Pittsburgh’s attempt to do what many other cities have already: create a body for the voices of students to be heard. Their primary job is to act as an advocacy group for students across the city. Their purpose is to encourage city, state, and county government to look more like the type of government that we, as students have. The SAGC exists through a partnership between members of the city government and also from within Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) itself. The council is made up of high school and eighth grade students from throughout the city of Pittsburgh. Though PPS hosts most events involving the SAGC, spots were held open for private, charter, and parochial schools from outside of the district. The council has about twenty-five members, all of whom went through an interview process beginning with an online application which all students had to fill out. This was followed by an in-person interview with many of the people who are in charge of the program.

The council will allow the student advocates a platform from which to make a proposal to the city, state, or county government. This proposal can be as local as having a specific street be repaved by the city, or as far-reaching as making changes to state laws. The SAGC is a sort of spiritual successor to the Youth Participatory Budget Council (YPBC) which existed last year and the year before. The YPBC did much the same thing as today’s SAGC, but it was limited to strictly proposing changes to the budget of the city, which allows no room for action on the state level.

The SAGC held an orientation for its members in December, during which their responsibilities as council members were discussed. Chief of Staff for City Councilman Corey O’Connor was at the meeting and talked about how he plans to help the SAGC by granting them expertise which they might not have been able to receive without someone working in government.

Overall, it appears that the SAGC (and its 6 members from Obama!) will be an excellent addition to the city and a great way for the voice of oft-overlooked youth to be considered in lawmaking. This council will empower youth from across the city, and it will be exciting to learn what they decide to propose.