A Year Later: Students Collaborating and Advocating

     What a year! It has been that long since I first organized a screening of Race to Nowhere in my community. I thought I was a lone wolf as the student voice for education reform. Since then, not only have I met likeminded students, but I have also met students who are taking action. Some are effecting change within their respective communities, others are politically involved, some are harnessing the power of technology in education, and I even know one writing a book. This weekend, New York Public Media hosted their annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning. This “professional development conference” brought educators together to discuss new ideas and past experiences. Unfortunately, it did not aim to incorporate students.

     On the conference’s website, the FAQs section stated, “The Celebration of Teaching & Learning is not designed for [students].” A few of my fellow students and I would not be stopped from attending and having our voices heard. Some of us shared our thoughts on a panel while others did so by asking provocative questions and adding a student perspective to a teacher-dominated discussion. In one of the workshops I attended, titled “Teacher Leadership is Key!” over half of the attendees were students. The teachers in the room not only recognized us, they respected us. Students realize the need to collaborate with teachers if education is ever going to be successfully reformed. We care.

     Race to Nowherehas connected me with student education reform activists nationwide. A network is developing and the movement is growing. The film has an important message, but it has done more than promote a “silent epidemic.” It has empowered students to take action. This is our education. This is our future. And we will have a role in shaping it.

     If you are a student, join the network, become a part of the movement. Share your voice. Promote your voice. Many administrators say they want to create change, but will not do so until they hear that the students want it. Your voice is important. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

Zak Malamed

RLT Student Leadership Board Co-Leader

Twitter: @ZakMal

 

If you are a student, use #studenvoice to lend your voice to the conversation on Twitter.