Something's happening here. ... in Chicago, in Los Angeles, in New York and more than a dozen other cities. High school students are organizing. They are agitating. And they're not going to take it any more.
These student activists want more from their schools and the adults who oversee them. They want access to college, meaningful courses, an end to punitive policies that push troubled kids out of school and often down the road to prison. They refuse to stand on the sidelines of debates over school reform and school funding. They want schools that work for all children – in short, an opportunity to learn.
Twenty of these grassroots groups came together in late 2008 and formed the Alliance for Educational Justice. (See www.allianceforeducationaljustice.org) The Alliance unites grassroots groups to change federal education policy. It also works to build the capacity of organizations and youth leaders who are working for educational equity in their own states and communities.
In less than two years, members of the Alliance have made their voices known on federal education policy and have supported each other with creative ideas for organizing and building clout. They have developed a thoughtful set of proposals to Congress and the President on the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And they have taken to the streets.
Fifteen of the groups took part in coordinated actions on Tax Day, April 15, 2010 – demanding more funding for struggling schools. With rallies, press conferences and street theatre, they issued a resounding call for change.
“No more bailouts for banks.” “Money for schools, not war.” “Support struggling schools, don’t close them.”
They were spirited. They were loud. They were unified.
Let’s hope the adults were listening.
For a glimpse of an April 15 Tax Day action,
The Alliance for Educational Justice includes the following member organizations:
• Albany Park Neighborhood Council (Chicago, IL)
• Baltimore Algebra Project (Baltimore, MD)
• Boston Youth Organizing Project (Boston, MA)
• Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (Chicago, IL)
• Californians for Justice (California)
• Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth (San Francisco, CA)
• Community Coalition (Los Angeles, CA)
• Desis Rising Up and Moving (New York City, NY)
• Future of Tomorrow (Brooklyn, NY)
• InnerCity Struggle (Los Angeles, CA)
• Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (Chicago, IL)
• Make the Road New York (New York City, NY)
• Mothers on the Move (Bronx, NY)
• Padres y Jovenes Unidos (Denver, CO)
• Philadelphia Student Union (Philadelphia, PA)
• Sistas & Brothas United (New York)
• Sunflower Community Action (Wichita, KS)
• Youth Together (Oakland, CA)
• Youth United for Change (Philadelphia, PA)
• Youth Education Alliance (Washington DC)