April 13, 2020

Critical Civic Inquiry: Students Master Academic Content Through Rigorous Action Research Projects

Youth organizing groups in communities of color, often working in partnership with adults, offer rich and transformative contexts for young people’s learning. Young people investigate damaging or unjust education policies, develop promising solutions, and press for policy change in their schools and communities. In Colorado, for example, members of Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU) celebrated the passage of a Colorado state law that dismantled the “school to prison” pipeline and worked with the Denver Public Schools to launch new restorative justice practices after a multi-year organizing campaign (www.padresunidos.org). Groups like PJU offer learning environments where young people come together to share stories, identify injustices, and organize campaigns to influence policies that affect their lives.   More difficult to find, however, are examples where schools nurture robust civic learning of this kind […]
April 13, 2020

Finding Voice, Taking Action: Sociopolitical Development for Middle Schoolers and Beyond By Dane Stickney

College pennants hang on the walls of a charter middle school and shout the names of academic institutions far from this western US city. “HARVARD,” one reads in big, block letters. “MICHIGAN,” “TEXAS,” “WILLIAM & MARY.” The charter school has gone all-in on college. Students start the day by gathering in a large room the school has named “the Quad” – an homage to the open areas on college campuses. The principal – a White woman who attended a prestigious university in the intermountain west – leads a daily chant. “Why are we here?” she asks. “To strive for college!” respond the 350 students, roughly 95 percent of whom identify as Latinx and qualify for free or reduced lunch. One student, a 6th-grader named Jorge, makes his way to his […]
April 13, 2020

Student Voice: Transformative or Symbolic? by Ginnie Logan

Francis is the student body president. She has a 4.3 GPA. She is enrolled in honors and AP classes and has gained early admission to Stanford. She is a regular contributor to the school newspaper and a member of the varsity tennis team. She has also won 2 state championships in speech and debate. As part of her presidential responsibilities she chairs the prom and senior trip committees. As student body president she often meets with the principal to update him with the student body pulse. Francis works hard and is determined to use her leadership as a platform for enhancing the quality of her and other students educational experiences.  Josephine is a sophomore. She is enrolled in one honors class and has a 2.9 GPA. While she plans on […]
Students Making Policy