New York State Student Support Services Center

For three years from 2006-08, Adam contracted with the New York State Student Support Services Center in LeRoy, New York to provided expert guidance on Meaningful Student Involvement in school improvement. Adam provided ongoing training and consulting to the NYS Student Support Services Center as they implemented a statewide initiative focused on meaningful student involvement.

Working with dozens of K-12 schools statewide, Adam’s activities included keynote presentations and individual school consultations at workshops across the state, as well as ongoing consulting and writing for the Center.

Outcomes included the development of a replicable statewide strategy for engaging and sustaining meaningful student involvement in school improvement. Adam also worked with a number of BOCES focused on student voice, student engagement, and related topics as part of this project.

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Seattle Student Equity Project

From 2006 to 2008, Adam conceptualized, launched, and directed the Seattle Student Equity Project as a partnership of SoundOut and the Seattle Public Schools Office of Equity and Race Relations. He worked with eight high schools in Seattle to create, develop, and support Student Equity Teams focused on Meaningful Student Involvement and race relations in high schools across the city.

The Seattle Student Equity Project focused on three themes:

  • Equity and Race Relations Bringing communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection around what is meant by racism and the impact is has on our society and more specifically, students.
  • Student Voice Engaging the perspectives and actions of young people in educational activities that partner students with adults to improve schools.
  • Service Learning Combining powerful opportunities to help others with substantial classroom learning goals.

Every Student Equity Team was invited to participate in a program that includes four components:

  • Ongoing Training for students and adults focused on each project theme in order to increase the capacity through knowledge-sharing and skill-building;
  • Student-Led Evaluations of student perspectives about equity and race relations in Seattle Public Schools;
  • Service Learning Projects that are designed, implemented, and evaluated by students in response to student-led evaluations, and;
  • Cross-School Collaborations through monthly meetings and training that encourage students to share experiences and brainstorm responses.

My Review of “Bringing It Together”

Bringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability was written by K. Zimmerman, M. Chow and T. James for the Movement Strategy Center. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

 

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the a rush of youth-led activism in America, focusing a variety of issues including social justice, school improvement, and so-called “youth liberation”. The issues were highlighted through a variety of actions, including protest marches, rallies, and teach-ins, with riots, arrests, and curfews as regular results. Analyses within various efforts identified corporatization, militarism, and elitism as the forces to fight against.

Unfortunately, many people today- including youth and adults- bemoan the lack of those specific actions in these dangerous times. Many well-meaning liberal activists collectively yearn for the action embodied “back in the day.” However, after leading The Freechild Project for five years, I have consistently found that while youth activists share analyses with the past, the actions of youth organizations are more sophisticated than ever before – and that’s a good thing. A new report from the Movement Strategy Center calledBringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability gives ample evidence that youth activism has “grown up” – and beyond a hunch, they show exactly why that is right and good for young people and communities today.

Similar to their popular youth co-created report Making Spaces-Making Change, [read a review here] in Bringing It Together the Movement Strategy Center spotlights six organizational case studies from youth-led and youth-driven organizations on the West Coast. As the subtitle of the report states, there are many correlations between youth organizing, youth development, and youth services. Throughout this piece the authors show how a growing number of organizations are intentionally uniting those approaches to provide a more holistic, supportive, and sustainable model of social change “as part of a very long-term vision for social justice movement building and healthy living.” If only more youth-serving organizations were so intentional.

The organizations featured here work in diverse communities, including Latino/a migrants, African American teens, an American Indian reservation, inner city communities, and LBGTQ youth. The issues are just as disparate: cultural awareness, women’s empowerment, education reform, voter registration, immigrant rights, and a bevy of other topics. That is what makes the authors’ findings about the common approaches to innovation between these groups that much more startling: the threads weave together to create a strong, empowering, and sustainable course of action. More importantly, they form a brilliantly effective strategy for social change on multiple fronts, including community organizing and cultural awareness, youth development and community services.

Throughout the report, the depth of analysis and possibility for field movement becomes startlingly clear. By clearly delineating each program’s history, goals, approaches, structure, partnerships, and progress, the authors continually move beyond the current rhetoric and postulating popular among numerous youth organizing intermediaries. Their observations and recommendations succeed in creating a vibrantly accessible and teachable framework for an integrated approach to youth action.

Through very approachable writing and research methods, the authors call the failure of many youth-serving organizations to put their work into a larger context to task in a very subtle way. As Paulo Freire often wrote, there is nothing neutral about our presence in the world, and before we can begin to change the world, we have to name it and critically understand it. Youth workers reading this report may find the authors’ explanation of the “Resource Power Triangle” particularly effective way of transforming their regular approaches into non-traditional action.

Getting back to the history: within 20 years, by the late 1970s, many observers and former participants from said that the American “youth movement” was dead. The American Indian Movement and the Black Panthers had been brutally suppressed; Students for a Democratic Society and Weather Underground imploded; Youth Liberation morphed, hippies became yuppies, and the rest is history.

Or is it? Since the late 1980s and early 90s the new movement has been growing. Today’s activists are standing on the shoulders of giants, yet creating space for themselves as well. The authors of this report note that “we are living at the end of the era of the New Deal.” George Bush’s so-called “ownership society,” paralleled by the increasing promotion of the importance of “social entrepreneurship,” is tearing apart the historical fabric of public responsibility in the US. This study shares scholar Henry Giroux’s analysis of the effects of neoliberalism on low-income youth and young people of color, as schools close, prisons swell, health programs end, and public programs become privatized.

The Movement Strategy Center’s new report illustrates- without a doubt- that youth-led community organizing is responsive, effective, wide-ranging, sophisticated, and powerful. This document is a vital contribution to further understanding, growth and hope for the future of our communities.

 

Title: Bringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability

Authors: K. Zimmerman, M. Chow and T. James

Publisher: Movement Strategy Center

Secondary Academy for Success

From 2003-06, Adam consulted with Secondary Academy for Success in Bothell, Washington, to integrate students as partners into their school improvement planning process. 

Adam provided training to nontraditional student leaders at this alternative high school in suburban Seattle. After facilitating a school-wide forum for 150 students on school improvement, students joined committees and made reports to the school board on how they think schools should change. Their input drove school improvement efforts for the next several years, including a school redesign process that was implemented.

 

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My Review of “Making Space – Making Change”

Making Space – Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations was written by the Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

 

Responding to a crisis is not easy work. People who spend day in and out working for the good of other people are often taxed to the extremes: selflessness and empathy override their commitment to themselves. That is why it is so rare to capture a succinct yet powerful overview of youth activism today: democracy is in crisis mode, and those who are struggling for its life are being pushed to the extremes. That is why this is the most important document focusing on young people and social change to come out in recent times.

This new publication from the Movement Strategy Center in Oakland profiles five youth-led and youth-driven organizations from across the U.S. It provides insightful details on how these organizations started, how they build youth leadership and power, deal with challenges, and how they make real change in their communities. For readers of Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Peter McLaren, and other critical educators, there are many familiar points- but with an important focus on social change led by young people. Early in the introduction to youth-led action, the authors state,

 “Instead of approaching the question of youth-led organizations as an either/or situation, it’s helpful to think about youth leadership and governance as a continuum with a spectrum of possibilities – something that can develop and change over time.” (p 15)

This echoes bell hooks recent book, Teaching for Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, where hooks extols readers to look beyond either/or and towards with/and. The authors of this report provide an important bridge to many critical thinkers, applying much-needed theory to the powerful, practical work of youth activists.

Rather than simply providing another toolkit, this report allows the details to tell the stories. The feature on the Lummi CEDAR Project, as all of the stories, paints a vivid portrait of a community responding to the dilemma of keeping cultural pride and community alive by engaging youth. This project highlights the power of belonging and identity, a trait that consumerist culture increasingly denies to many young people. As in other stories, the report is frank about the challenges facing the CEDAR Project: Creating a youth-led structure for an indigenous context; adapting organizational development models; and creating a culturally relevant youth organizing model in a rural Native community.

However, the summaries are always hopeful – realistic, for sure – but hopeful. As one of the youth directors said,

“It’s really awesome to me because our community is a small tribal community, and we have eighty young people trained now. So we have a broad network living a healthy lifestyle, caring about their community, inspired, motivated, and have this drive to make a positive change in their community. And that impacts their family… We’re just building a collective movement…” (p 41)

Making Space – Making Change is an important tool for young people and adults allies who are ready to put their principles into practice. It is a more important tool in the growing library of publications that support young people leading social change. Important analysis, detailed findings, and powerful personal connections can only promote a stronger, more effective future for social change led by and with young people. Thank you to the Young Wisdom Project – we’re all moving forward because of your work.

 

 

Title: Making Space – Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations

Author: Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center

My Review of “Eliminating Corporal Punishment”

Eliminating Corporal Punishment: The Way Forward To Constructive Child Discipline was edited by Joan Durrant. This is my review for The Freechild Project website.

Spanking, slapping, smacking, pulling ears, pinching, shaking… Hitting with rulers, belts, wooden spoons, extension cords, slippers, hairbrushes, pins, sticks, whips, rubber hoses, flyswatters, wire hangers, stones, bats, canes, or paddles… Forcing a child to stand for a long period; hold an uncomfortable position; stand motionless; kneel on rice, corn, floor grates, pencils or stones; retain body wastes; perform strenuous exersize; or ingest soap, hot sauce, or lemon juice… THIS IS CORPOREAL PUNISHMENT. Anytime a young person is subjected to this treatment they are being abused. These forms of abuse are the cruelest, most unjust, and most ineffective treatment young people can receive.
I can hear Alex’s voice right now: “That’s sentimental crap! Those people just want to babysit kids without giving them a chance to run their own lives!” Alex is the head of a large national organization that proponents the rights of young people to, well, run their own lives. His is a noble cause that I fully support, and that I agree with most of the time – except now.

Earlier this year the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, released the seminal publication available for anyone interested in securing the most basic right of any person today: that is, the right to live in peace. While it sounds simplistic and naive, violence is a daily reality for almost every young person in the world today. There is physical violence, like war, family abuse, bullying, and gang violence. There is mental abuse, like parental abuse, teacher abuse, or verbal put-downs. But there is also the abuse of being neglected everyday by the institutions that purportedly are designed to empower children and youth, such as schools, hospitals, and governments. There is violence hurdled through popular media, like television shows, songs on the radio, and video games. And there is the violence that surrounds young people everyday, seeping into everyone’s hearts and minds without us being aware of it: another bombing overseas, another vicious attack on public funding, another slander against youth in the paper…

These abuses add up. As the book notes, “Corporal punishment of adults is prohibited in well over half the world’s countries, yet only 15 of the 190-plus nations have prohibited all corporal punishment of children, including in the family.” There is little wonder in my mind about why young people appear “apathetic” and “disenchanted” with a world so intent on numbing them to pain, hatred, cynicism and violence.

That is why this book is so important. For the first time my Americanized eyes are beginning to fully comprehend the global imperative any ethical person faces when dealing with the situation of young people today. That is, we must stand with young people to change the situations that they face, and that our world faces. While I’ve always believed that, I’ve never been fully able to describe why – until now. Now I’m beginning to understand the larger picture.

By situating its premise in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or the CRC, Eliminating Corporal Punishment serves as a powerful international wake-up call, shattering any formerly sentimentalist or naive perceptions about the need to fight with young people for their rights. The CRC boldly declares that,

“Young people must be meaningfully involved in promoting and strategizing action on violence against children… Children… need to be well informed about their rights, and fully involved in the life of the [community and] school…”

This call situates corporal punishment as a fully-authorized premise for social action in 198 countries around the world- minus the US and Somalia- and even they have signaled their intent to sign on. There is no other convention, consensus, or constitution in the world that is more widely accepted.

So the majority of global society aggress that corporal punishment is a significant premise social change. I believe that corporal punishment is the root of all discrimination in society. Sure, its premised on the hatred of young people, on adultism, on the self- and cultural repression of childhood… and its exacerbated by dozens of other factors, including socio-economic class, gender, race, ethnicity, and more… but I wouldn’t have been able to confirm that for you without this book. Today I understand that corporal punishment is at the heart of all this, and more.

What this book essentially does is provides an astoundingly comprehensive, yet relatively simple summary and analysis of corporal punishment, its background, and the effects and outcomes on our society. Then it carefully proposes culturally-relevant, socially-progressive responses to developing holistic, caring, and supportive responses to discipline that all adults – parents, teachers, youth workers, and others – can stand to learn from. A variety of illustrative anecdotes and a massive research scan all confirm that this is the most powerful, positive change that can possibly affect young people in around the world today.

There is so much I can say about this book. My own copy is almost completely marked-up on many pages, and I have dog-eared dozens of pages to reference and return to in the future. I would strongly suggest this book to anyone who wants an introduction to corporal punishment; to anyone interested in understanding the larger societal influences, impacts, outcomes, and forces at work behind corporal punishment; to anyone who wants to discover the international affects of corporal punishment; and to anyone who wants to understand the relationships between corporal punishment and adultism, ageism, and discrimination of all sorts. In short, I highly recommend this book to anyone who cares. I would even recommend it to Alex.

 

Order Eliminating Corporal Punishment: The Way Forward To Constructive Child Discipline at http://amzn.to/UfX9E9

HumanLinks Foundation

From 2004 to 2008, Adam contracted with the HumanLinks Foundation, a family foundation in north Seattle, to develop foundation goals, knowledge, and activities to support meaningful student involvement throughout education.

He assisted in the development and implementation of an activity-oriented approach towards meaningful student involvement. Activities included the development of a strategic plan, ongoing consultation, project development and management, and evaluation. Specific activities included supporting New Horizons for Learning’s student voice initiative, a Seattle Public Schools high school student project, and activities in local schools.

 

Resources Developed

 


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Small Schools Project

Adam contracted with the Small Schools Project in Seattle in 2004-07. He provided introductory training in meaningful student involvement for 25+ small schools coaches, as well as an intensive training in meaningful student involvement for 50+ students and adults focused on planning for meaningful student involvement in their local small school projects. Included the creation of a chapter for “School Culture: An Introduction” published by Small Schools Project. 


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Washington OSPI SIPP

Adam partnered with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction School Improvement Planning Program in Olympia to provide a Meaningful Student Involvement Initiative from 2003-05. Partners also included Yakima Public Schools and the Washington State University Center for Bridging the Digital Divide.

Through this project Adam…

  • Coordinated a statewide pilot project in 45 elementary, middle, and senior high schools in 12 districts. 
  • Solely focused on meaningful student involvement in federally-mandated school improvement. 
  • Frameworks for meaningful student involvement adapted by U.S. Department of Education. 

Adam provided ongoing training and technical assistance to school improvement coaches and lead improvement coaches in 75+ schools across Washington State. The project included the development of a chapter in the School Improvement Planning Process Guide published by OSPI. 


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SoundOut SIPP

Adam worked with a number of partner agencies, schools, and the state education agency to facilitate the SoundOut School Improvement Planning Pilot Project. Elementary, middle, and high schools across Washington State. He facilitated student voice training, programs, and evaluations focused on the role of students in formal school improvement activities.

From 2003 to 2006, Adam worked in elementary, middle, and high schools across Washington State to facilitate training, programs, and evaluations regarding the role of students in formal school improvement activities. He created professional development, student training, whole-school forums, and systemic evaluations of student voice and meaningful student involvement. Funding was provided by the HumanLinks Foundation, with additional support from Yakima Public Schools, and the Center for Bridging the Digital Divide.

Pilot Schools

  • Lewis and Clark Middle School (Yakima, WA) SoundOut facilitated a school improvement planning process for 35 traditional and nontraditional student leaders, 10 teachers, and several administrators focused integrating student voice in school improvement. The 750 students in this urban school all participated in a student co-designed survey. Afterwards, students analyzed the data, identified their priorities, and presented information to building and district leaders.
  • Ridgeview Elementary School (Yakima, WA) SoundOut facilitated a school improvement planning process for 25 students and 5 teacher-partners. Participants completed training on student voice and co-designed a survey with their school improvement facilitator. Afterwards, they created action plans that will sustain an annual student team focused on school improvement in their building.
  • Spanaway Elementary School (Bothell, WA) SoundOut facilitated several training programs for students and educators at Spanaway focused on student voice and service learning.
  • Dayton High School (Dayton, WA) SoundOut facilitated training in meaningful student involvement for 20 student leaders, who then facilitated student voice forums for every student in this rural eastern Washington school. Those forums led to the creation of four action plans that were presented to the student body.
  • Friday Harbor High School (Friday Harbor, WA) SoundOut facilitated a school improvement planning process focused on meaningful student involvement in this rural island high school. School-wide forums and classes led by students brought a new commitment among students and teachers to promote student voice at the school.
  • Secondary Academy for Success (Bothell, WA) SoundOut provided training to nontraditional student leaders at this alternative high school in suburban Seattle. After facilitating a school-wide forum for 150 students on school improvement in Spring 2003, students have joined committees and made reports to the school board on how they think schools should change.

 


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