The Jacksonville community is recognizing that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that all of our city’s children have the opportunity to attend high-quality public schools. Too often, decisions in public education are made without the voices of those who are affected the most by these decisions: students. However, our community is recognizing that there are many things we can do to make a positive change in our city if we all come together.
That is why the Jacksonville Public Education Fund has taken on the task of improving the student experience in public schools by identifying opportunities to incorporate their feedback to better inform policy making, programming and other educational efforts in Duval County. We started this process in September 24, 2016 with the launch of ONE by ONE: Student Voice and continued with a second event on October 27. ONE by ONE: Student Voice has been attended by a total of 370 students, teachers, administrators, nonprofit partners and members of the community and held two task force meetings to date.
The task forces identified three common themes surfacing from the Student Voice events:
Students need the community to provide a platform so that students can be heard. Some of the recommendations included:
Providing a monthly forum where students can talk about their concerns
Provide opportunities for students to attend and speak in cabinet meetings, district meetings or other convening.
Develop pathways or tools for student trainings on SACs and emphasize the importance of getting involved.
In addition to traditional curriculum, students are hungry for more opportunities to gain real-life work experiences. Some of the recommendations around this topic included:
Work-study internships with businesses.
Incorporating real-world skills, such as skills in financial planning, into the existing curriculum.
Connecting students with information about programs that already exist, but that may not be reaching all students such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters: Beyond School Walls; Hero Points; and Maker Marks.
The third theme identified was the need for community partnerships within public schools. Recommendations included:
Providing an opportunity for corporations in Jacksonville to engage, whether that be by providing support to students and schools directly or providing support to parents, particularly single parents.
College preparedness meetings at all high schools.
Leveraging our young workforce (ages 25 – 29) to act as a bridge or as connectors for high school students preparing to enter the workforce.
In the future, we will need the talents and contributions of our children to be available to our community. Ensuring that we are doing everything we can as a community to support and empower them so that they have the best chance in this life should be our top priority.
There will be just one more opportunity to convene with Duval County students at the ONE by ONE: Student Voice on January 28. Do you have a great idea you’d like to share? RSVP today for this free event.