This Election cycle, this year, has been different from any we’ve experienced. However, in the midst of all the chaos, emerged young people that are politically aware, that are activists for their communities, and are extremely vocal about issues that are important to them.
We invited the young women of our community to join us for our STARS CGI youth-led town hall on #EducationEquity. Fellows held an impactful dialogue with special guest, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, and afterward derived action steps to support their concerns around education equity. Topics of discussion included costs of living, LGBTQ+ rights, representation matters, access to resources, and health care.
1) More Diversity in staff and authority figures so students can have a safe connection to not only advance knowledge of academics, but better relationships with adults in the building. These include POC, Women, LGBTQ+, and religious diversity.
2) Diverse staff that are QUALIFIED to command the room. Ensuring that they are equipped to effectively communicate with students, not just fill a quota.
3) Updated curriculums that accurately represent people of differing cultural and religious backgrounds. It’s important to see ourselves reflected in our curriculums. Part of this is also not limiting conversations that deflect from the day’s lesson plans. Being able to connect history with the present leads to higher learning.
COST OF LIVING
1) Ensure funding is prioritized to communities based on need. We’ve noticed black and brown communities, in dire straights are often neglected funding, yet as these same neighborhoods become gentrified, there is an influx of funding available.
2) Provide resources to teachers to allow them to be more knowledgeable about their students, including resources to expose students to career paths.
3) Holding our elective officials accountable to their campaign talking points.
ACCESS TO RESOURCES
1) Schools should provide classes that prioritize the learning styles and strengths of their students as opposed to disabled/able-bodied. 2) Shift from deficit-based learning to asset-based learning styles. Currently, schools teach from the perspective of what students lack, as opposed to their strengths. Our proposal allows students to be seen and celebrated which in turn builds morale.
3) Schools need to diversify curriculums to include financial literacy and other life skills.
1) Contract external partners, including counselors and teachers, as it creates a safer environment for students to open up. There is a current fear among LGBTQ+ students in which their current counselors have a relationship with their parents, and may ‘OUT’ them.
This can also extend to a program for parents, to better educate them on ways to accept and support their LGBTQ+ children.
2) Pass a bill – Comprehensive Sex Bill (currently under review in the Council), which will change the way students learn about sex education in NYC schools.
3) More Town Halls and awareness meetings educating and reminding students of the effects of bullying (cyber and in-person alike).
1) Put more funding into Health Care Services ensuring that Health Care Centers have the proper equipment to treat students.
2) Transparency on where funding is going and who’s involved while ensuring parity across departments. It allows the student body to identify the person(s) that should be held accountable for misdeeds. 3) Reforming education curriculum so students are aware of neighborhood/world issues. We will be better informed and can better advocate for present and future issues – eg. Climate change.