This month, as retirements opened up positions, Franklin-McKinley rescinded some of its roughly 50 layoff notices.

It’s one of the ironies of public education: Students get steeped in lessons about democracy, but when it comes to running schools, they have no role, little voice and seldom are their opinions solicited.

Sometimes, students see the stakes as too high to remain quiet.

At various South Bay schools, they’ve launched their own campaigns to get better technology, to change school calendars and to save favorite teachers from layoff lists.

They’ve rejected the notion that students should be seen and not heard. And they insist that as the people most affected, they need to raise their voices.

“We are not whining, not moping, just trying to get what we deserve and need,” Emily Spacek, 14, blogged in the fall when she and fellow eighth-graders at Renaissance Academy began to look at the inequity of technology resources, and how that hinders their education.

The students launched a project to lobby, research and secure money to better equip their East San Jose school–even though, if they’re successful, those resources will arrive after they graduate.

At Gunn High School in Palo Alto, one student’s opinion survey influenced a school board vote to change the school-year calendar.

And at College Connection Academy in San Jose, students campaigned, albeit with mixed success, to save pink-slipped teachers’ jobs.