By the late 1960s in the United States, there was a lot of concern about the rising amount of student uprisings, student-led education organizing, and student demands for meaningful involvement throughout the education system.
Responses happened across the U.S., even Washington D.C.
President Richard Nixon’s administration launched, for the fist time ever, a program to support student voice. They assigned staff, built a physical office and began outreach to districts across the country. The Office of Students and Youth program was launched in 1969, and the first leader of the office was Toby Moffet.
The office was created for several reasons:
- To seek technical and financial assistance for innovative student-run programs
- Keep USOE tuned in to students, and
- Present a national overview of school tensions and ways of dealing with them
- Run the Student Information Center in Washington, D.C., staffed mainly by local students, the center collects information on innovations in public high schools, especially those started by students; student rights; and participation in governance.
The Student Information Center also established a clearinghouse of information on secondary school issues, especially student-initiated reforms.
I have found information related to the Office of Students and Youth extending to 1974. One of the huge upsets was the resignation of Moffet, who reportedly left because Nixon continuously said things in his speeches and comments to the media that were ignorant of young people and their interests. I have found references to the Student Information Center leading into the late 1990s. They were responsible for mailing out information regarding student loans and other information.
Its exciting to me to discover this history, if only because it shows how far student voice can go, how it can be manipulated, and how far we’ve come. Today, we don’t even remember examples like the Office of Students and Youth – until now.