Feedback: Disconnected Youth

Earlier today Secretary of Education Arne Duncan posted a piece on Medium on the need to connect more youth.

All young people — no matter where they grow up — need havens of hope and safety. They need skills to succeed in society and the workplace. They need positive adult role models, mentors, support and structure, as well as clear pathways to a bright future.

He goes on to say that we need an all-hands-on-deck effort to reconnect these youth:

If we care about our country’s future, we must work together – at the local, state and federal levels –to reconnect all young people with the education and career pathways that lead away from poverty, desperation and violence and toward a renewed sense of community, stability, and success.

Secretary Duncan asked to hear your ideas:

Now it’s your turn to weigh in and highlight success. Share with us how people and organizations are helping recconnect youth in your community. We want to hear what’s working and to share examples with communities across the country. To do what’s right for our young people, we have no time to lose.

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Duncan Seeks Feedback During #StuVoice Twitter Chat

The voice of students has never been more critical to education than it is today. We know that our young people’s capacity to influence society cannot be underestimated, which is why Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his team are dedicated to listening to students’ ideas and concerns. We know that youth are concerned about the quality of their education, getting in and paying for college, and finding a good-paying job.


Secretary Arne Duncan regularly meets with students during school and classroom visits, but also in discussions at the Department of Education headquarters in Washington.

Last year, President Obama directed the Department of Education to develop a ratings system to identify colleges that provide a good value and to increase college affordability information available to students. Over the past several months we have been getting feedback from across the country, but it’s important that we get this right.

On January 13, 2014, Secretary Duncan will be moderating a special one-hour #stuvoice Twitter chat to get feedback from students on how we can keep college affordable and how the Administration’s college rating system can be useful for students and families.

What: #StuVoice Twitter Chat with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

When: 8:30pm EST Monday January 13, 2014

Where: Follow the Twitter conversation starting at 8:30pm on Jan. 13, with the #stuvoice hashtag and follow @ArneDuncan and @Stu_Voice.

Your voice is important, and even if you can’t make the Twitter chat, please don’t hesitate to leave feedback in the comments below.

Subscribe to the Department of Education’s Youth Voices newsletter, and follow ED Youth Voices on Facebook.

 Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

Behind the Waiting Room: Students and Their Fight for Affordable Healthcare

Duncan meets with students

Secretary Duncan meeting with youth from the School Based Health Alliance and Young Invincibles. Photo courtesy of John Schlitt.

When thinking about issues facing young people today, the first that come to my mind are education, jobs, and traffic safety. It’s easy to forget how important access to affordable health care can be on getting a quality education, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently sat down with students to discuss health care and its importance. Duncan heard from students who are part of the School Based Health Alliance National Youth Advisory Council (SBHANYC) and Young Invincibles, two organizations working to promote accessibility to affordable health care for students.

Jhana Parikh, a high school junior from Raleigh, N.C., told Duncan that her school did not have a school-based health center, leading her to advocate for the creation of an on-campus center for her peers. Parikh believed that it was necessary to have a safe and secure health facility in their community, which prompted her to take action.

Another student shared her motivation for becoming involved in healthcare advocacy, explaining that when her father became sick, her family did not have access to affordable health care. She saw first-hand how healthcare costs can drag a family into debt.

A common theme throughout the discussion was how personal this issue is to each of these students. They’ve overcome a great deal of adversity and are now working to make sure others do not face the same challenges they did, or at a minimum have the tools to overcome them.

One of the lesser-known provisions of the Affordable Care Act is construction money for school-based health centers. This is a big step in ensuring students have access to health care, but one member of SBHANYC believes schools still need additional money for operational costs of the health centers. Towards the end of the dialogue, a student asked Secretary Duncan if he would support a $50 million line item in the FY 2015 budget to help cover operational costs for these school-based health centers. The Secretary understood that for a lot of low income students, the school-based health centers are extremely vital in providing basic medical supports.

At the end of the meeting, students were interested and excited to collaborate with each other to share their passion for high quality affordable healthcare for all students.

Learn more about school-based health centers.

Sam Ryan is special assistant and youth liaison at the U.S. Department of Education

Giving Youth a Voice

Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover

We can’t improve education if we don’t listen to students, Secretary Duncan often explains when he talks about the need for an ongoing conversation with students, teachers and parents. As part of that ongoing conversation, some of the Secretary’s top advisers met with a group of students from the National Campaign for Quality Education last month to discuss ideas on education reform and how we can increase student achievement throughout the country. The students highlighted their proposed legislation entitled the Youth SUCCESS Act, which calls for a student Bill of Rights, investment in job opportunities, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

The youth described how their personal experiences in their communities and classrooms have influenced their education, and they expressed a strong interest in continuing to work with ED to close our country’s achievement gap.

The meeting was the result of a request from a student during ED’s Voices in Action: National Youth Summit at Howard University in February. Following the meeting, hundreds of students from the National Campaign for Quality Education staged a rally on ED’s plaza and marched to the Department of Labor to continue their call for youth investment.

Read about the top five things we learned at the National Youth Summit, and continue the conversation by becoming a fan of ED Youth Voices on Facebook.

Robert Gomez is a Management and Program Analyst at the Department of Education