[Note: The U.S. Department of Education’s Youth Engagement Team was pleased to host students affected by homelessness and their peer leaders from SchoolHouse Connection for a listening session with Jason Botel, principal deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. He was recently appointed vice-chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The session provided students an opportunity to discuss obstacles that homeless students encounter in pursuing their education, and the practices and policies that can help them succeed. The students present endured repeated moves between schools and unstable living situations; they also experienced hunger, deep poverty, and in many cases, parental abandonment and abuse. Despite these challenges, they are still pursuing their educations in college.
One of those students, Latte Harris, shares her experiences and highlights the challenges she and many others face while homeless.]
An education committed solely to acquiring skills and knowledge required for specific jobs — calculus, chemistry and American government, for example — has limitations. Schools that also instill adaptable skills students will need in many workplace contexts — written and oral communication, critical thinking and creativity, for example — can provide a better path to 21st-century success.
Five Fairfax County, Virginia high school juniors conveyed this message during a recent visit to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters, where they showcased their Advanced Placement Capstone™ project on how well the United States’ modern education system prepares students for post-college success.
Last week, nearly 70 students from four states visited the U.S. Department of Education, and inspired ED staff to improve the education system in America to work for all students. These students were anything but diffident, for they came prepared to ask questions, all curious to know what the federal government’s role is in education.
Each group of students shared the uniqueness of their programs and the challenges they face in their schools. These students exhibited determination, optimism, civic engagement and forward thinking. They let us know that their voices are the key to spark effective change.