Three Initiatives to Transform Learning in Schools
Educators often enter the field with the intention in making a difference in the lives of youth but improving education does not rest solely on their shoulders.
Developing tomorrow’s leaders into culture influencers, changemakers and contributors to society should be a communal effort. Not everyone has to do this by going into education. Some organizations are attempting to reach youth through creativity and ingenuity.
XQ: The Super School Project
What began as a competition to reimagine high school in 2015 transformed into a nation-wide movement to reform high school education. “All across the country, students, parents, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and so many others are coming together and doing amazing work,” founder Russlynn Ali wrote in a letter. Ali is the former assistant secretary for civil rights at the US Department of Education, and vice president of the Education Trust in Washington, DC. She currently serves as managing director of education at the Emerson Collective and chief executive officer of the XQ Institute.
In addition to Ali, the board of XQ includes founder and chair of Emerson Collective Laurene Powell Jobs, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, entrepreneur and fashion designer Marc Eckō, Harlem Children’s Zone president Geoffrey Canada and managing partner of M. Klein and Company Michael Klein. Needless to say, The Super School Project has become a powerhouse of innovation and culture influencers. XQ expanded their program to 18 schools across the United States and students have embraced the learning goals with enthusiasm. While the program is still in its early phases, it will interesting to see where this movement goes.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>"Students are able to stand up and know they have the chance to make effective change." – Ryan, <a href=”https://twitter.com/IowaSLI?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@IowaSLI</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/leadership?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#leadership</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/studentvoice?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#studentvoice</a> <a href=”https://t.co/jgIgxmem2U”>pic.twitter.com/jgIgxmem2U</a></p>— XQ (@XQAmerica) <a href=”https://twitter.com/XQAmerica/status/851909730968772612?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 11, 2017</a></blockquote>
AASI: Pipeline to Possibilities
Four criminal judges and members of both Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta developed a program to combat the prison pipeline in Dallas. “Pipeline to Possibilities is a program committed to educating youth on various aspects of the justice system & inspiring youth to become leaders in society,” according to their website. We already know the school-to-prison pipeline already disproportionately affects black youth, however, four black women offered four classroom sessions to students in hopes of combating the pipeline in Dallas. These classroom sessions included step shows, lessons on personal social media marketing, solution finding and more.
The topics include an introduction to the criminal justice system, presentation and appearance, changing mindsets, and college explosion & bridging law enforcement and neighborhoods in Dallas. The purpose of these sessions is to show Dallas youth alternatives to the criminal justice system while empowering them to pursue excellence. The program ended last May but is still making headlines. Students from two Dallas high schools participated in the closing ceremony at Mountain View College. The ceremony was attended by various college representatives, Mountain View College President Dr. Robert Garza, entrepreneurs, and others.
Various partners such as Revolve Impact, The California Endowment, Tidal and artists such as Miguel and Common have joined many others to support a free music and art tour. The tour reaches out to California communities that have been impacted by the overuse of punishment and incarceration, the goal is to keep kids safe. “Overuse of suspensions for misbehavior starts as young as preschool. Nationally, Black preschoolers are 3.6x as likely as their white peers to be suspended,” according to the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. This statistic does not surprise me. In fact, the #SchoolsNotPrisons website list additional statistics about students of color on their website, along with their sources.
#SchoolsNotPrisons endorses a new vision of community safety that centers health, education and investing in youth. The movement relies on the prospect of solidarity while encouraging young activist and non-violence. The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour is a nonpartisan public education event. Also, each stop is free and family friendly!