Better Schools for a Better Society

TNTP New Orleans

Reposted from the TNTP Blog:

We come to our work at TNTP with the belief that schools can and must be a powerful lever of change in this country. We know how much of a difference schools can make in the lives of children, especially children living in poverty. I know it because I’ve lived it personally, growing up as the child of immigrants in California. That’s why we do what we do.

But as we’ve been reminded all too frequently these days, improving schools alone is not enough. Those of us working for better schools aren’t doing so as an end in itself. We are not naïve enough to think that a better education alone for kids of color is going to bring equity and justice. My friend Bryonn Bain, a fellow Columbia graduate, has written about the different rules men of color live by every day. Like Bain, we know that an education does not guarantee you will be afforded equal rights. That is why we see our work as part of a larger effort to promote opportunity, equality, justice and democracy. As long as these injustices continue, and wherever communities are torn apart by mistrust and lives are lost, then this larger effort is failing too. We all have so much more work to do.

And so we can’t stay silent when we see other institutions in this country sending the message that some lives matter less than others. The right response to institutional indifference of any kind—in our education system, our justice system, or in any other institution that is supposed to serve and protect us as citizens—is outrage. Outrage, and a call to action: We need the Justice Department to investigate and right these miscarriages of justice. We need to change how our law enforcement officers are trained and the cultures they work in. We need to examine the legal standards for the use of force. And we need to continue the national dialogue that’s been sparked by these events, about the very real consequences of racism and inequality in the lives of so many Americans. These may not be “education issues” per se, but for all of us who work to build a more just, more equal nation, they are our issues.

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Engaging Youth: Leadership Development in Five Steps

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Reposted from Roots of Action:

“Raising children to become active citizens doesn’t happen by chance. Being familiar with the common steps in their journeys can help parents, educators, and other adults support kids through these important learning experiences. And it can help develop effective youth leadership programs.

Kids who develop a passion to serve can usually point to a critical experience that became transformative for them.  The experience frequently involves face-to-face interaction with people who are different from them and most often, with people who are in need. They begin to ask questions that compare their own circumstances to others. But instead of mimicking the opinions they have heard from others, such as parents or friends, they begin to form their own conclusions. Through reflection, talking with others, and linking their values to the issues that impact them, young people experience a shift in perspective. They begin to see how issues are connected to each another and become interested in understanding the root causes of societal problems. Ultimately, engaged youth see themselves as active, engaged citizens. They are able to articulate their beliefs about how they understand a social or environmental issue and they hold a worldview that incorporates themselves as agents of change.

Students reported six main ways adults helped. They 1) supported and encouraged, 2) listened, 3) set high expectations, 4) showed interest in them as individuals separate from academics or civic activities, 5) fostered self-decision making, and 6) provided another perspective during problem-solving.”

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