Last Wednesday, 15 Duval County public school students gathered at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's main office for a student advocacy training that will ensure that youth are a big part of ONE by ONE's action phase.
From the outside, this may have looked like a typical youth gathering: pizza, soda and laughter. But the conversation was anything but - the students dug deep into what is actually going on in Duval County Schools and how they can drive positive change.
Students discussed education under the umbrella of the four priorities listed in the ONE by ONE Community Agreement:
- Educate the whole child.
- Policy and political reform
- Great teachers and leaders.
- Family and caregiver involvement.
And boy, did they have plenty to say! They praised their teachers for working so hard despite their "absurdly low pay." Students expressed their love for arts classes and begrudged the fact that some arts classes such as sculpture can cost a student up to $40. Through all the talk the loudly heard mantra of the evening was clear: "We want to be listened to."
Student voice has already been a huge part of the ONE by ONE campaign, with hundreds of students participating in the ONE by ONE conversations that took place during 2012. Students delegates represented youth at the Community Agreement Convention on January 5. Now, they are gearing up for the action phase of the campaign, seeking 1,250 student ratifications for the Community Agreement.
After an hour of discussion, the students voted the four priorities down to the one they would like to focus on, and as a group they overwhelmingly chose to focus their efforts on whole child education.
When asked how they were going to make a difference related to this issues, the entire group pledged to start by attending the next school board meeting. The students also pledged to sign up friends and family members to join the movement.
The next meeting of students will happen at Fletcher High School this coming Wednesday at 2 p.m. Watch out Duval County, these students are ON A MISSION.
Do you know a student who wants to join the ONEpush movement? E-mail me for more information.
On the blog tomorrow: Allishia Edmonds writes about why youth empowerment is so important!
-- Bart Hutchins