About a week ago, a group of students walked proudly down the halls of the US Department of Education to represent their schools, communities, and the countless youth across this nation who want more of a voice in the national education conversation.
In the February 25 meeting, participants discussed how to best engage students like themselves in education policy, what it means to have a quality education, and how to bridge resource gaps.
One leader—Stephanie—described why she almost dropped out of school: because she didn’t feel as though anyone was looking out for her. When Arne asked why she stayed in school, she described wanting to push herself to graduate despite her obstacles. The following day, Stephanie spoke at the National Youth Summit and provided her peers with an example of one who could have fallen through the cracks but who wouldn’t let it happen.
These ten students did far more than have a discussion at the Department; they widened a space for students to have a voice in education. Each month now, different student populations will engage with Arne Duncan on issues facing them. After the February discussion and the National Youth Summit, many of the adults attending commented on the power of the students’ words and experiences, acknowledging that it is important to create spaces for them in our national conversation about their need to have opportunities for a world-class education.
Read a blog post about the Voices in Action National Youth Summit.