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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My Review of “The Abandoned Generation”

The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear was written by Henry Giroux. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

The most important contribution to our collective work for social change by and with young people in recent years is not being talked about. Perhaps because it is the most dangerous. Truth is told, lies exposed, agendas revealed, and purpose questioned.

The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear was written by cultural theorist Henry Giroux. Giroux has been a scholar for 25 years, publishing more than 30 books and 250 scholarly articles. Some people refer to his work as socialist, dissident, and revolutionary; all very stand-offish terms for a man dedicated to revealing the various agendas against young people, democracy and social justice today. And reveal plots he does.

In this latest book Giroux carefully outlines several competing agendas for America’s children and youth, including that of the :
* “Compassionate conservatives” of the Bush Administration destroying the federal funding base for several social programs designed to support low-income children and youth across the nation;
* Corporations fighting for a chance to run America’s schools, determined to indoctrinate the values of patriotic consumerism in school students by taking the “public” out of public schools, and;
* Mass media’s continued assault on mass culture’s perceptions of youth by consistently portraying young people as apathetic, trashed out waste who are only motivated by punishment and rewards.
* Giroux speaks directly to young activists today, recognizing the power behind a lot of different groups, and offering a challenge for young people to connect with larger movements for social justice, like fighting for a radical, inclusive democracy instead of simply an end to sweatshop labor.

He also addresses educators, continuously calling for social justice, empowerment, and action in classrooms. Giroux shows how standardized tests serve multiple gods, enforcing racism, consumption, and class segregation in the name of “high performance.” There is a constant thread throughout the book calling for educators to teach critical thinking, active democracy, and community action for social change.

At a time when a lot of people see “Hope” as a dirty word, Giroux calls it front and center. He challenges the reader to examine the power of Hope for themselves, and calls for us to remove Hope from a silly, idyllic notion of “someday faraway” to a present, guiding, active notion that can guide and engage people, young and old, everyday.

In my continued effort to explore the depth, purpose, and effects of youth-led community action, I have not found another book that is so determined to tell the truth; the challenge now is to get people to read it. I thoroughly recommend ‘The Abandoned Generation’ to anyone dedicated to promoting social change by and with young people around the world, and eagerly await for the action that will follow.

SoundOut

SoundOut provides training, tools, and technical assistance to schools focused on Meaningful Student Involvement. Adam developed the program and has promoted it nationally and internationally since 2002. Today, it is a resource to students and educators around the world. Through SoundOut, Adam has provided professional development and training for dozens of K-12 school across the US. Continuing to work with a variety of clients focused on engaging students as partners in school reform, he has written several publications for SoundOut, including the Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change and the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum.


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Elsewhere Online

Washington OSPI Learn & Serve America Program

From 2002 to 2006, Adam contracted with the Washington State Learn & Serve America program. He provided expert training, consultation, and evaluation for 50 schools statewide.

Adam partnered with OSPI’s service learning coordinator to provide consulting and training focused on meaningful student involvement in service learning for 50+ K-12 schools across Washington. Activities included training students and educators in student voice and evaluating service learning programs in local schools. Outcomes from the project also included the creation of the Meaningful Student Involvement Idea Guide, printed by OSPI. Adam’s research and writing also led to the development of the Washington Youth Voice Handbook for the program.

 

Partner Schools (sample)

  • Vashon Island Student Link Alternative School, Vashon
  • Spanaway Elementary School, Spanaway
  • Langley Middle School, Langley
  • Evergreen High School, Vancouver
  • Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane

 


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My Review of “Taking Back Higher Education”

Take Back Higher Education: Race, Youth, and the Crisis of Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Era was written by Henry Giroux and Susan Searls Giroux. This is my review for The Freechild Project.

 

In Take Back High Education, Giroux and Giroux take a continuing analysis of the neo-liberalization of American education one step further by going for the heart of the academy. They begin this journey by acknowledging that schools should not be narrowed out as “the key to revitalizing a waning political democracy.” However, consistent with more than 25 years of critical reflection, the authors contend that higher education should be partners in the struggle for social justice, and that academics have a responsibility to engage young people in that struggle.

Giroux and Giroux charges the reader to look farther than schools by openly wondering “How do we invent a language of community or dare to asset a notion of public good…?” Throughout this book they return to this question, offering challenges to students, academics, and professors alike. The authors readily call on educators to build courses by combining “democratic principles, values, and practices with… the histories and struggles of those often marginalized because of race, class, gender, disability, or age” (p99).

Giroux and Giroux portray colleges and universities as being more than neglected by a public that denies their relevance; because of that, higher education is surrendering academic freedom and judiciousness to the highest bidder: namely, the corporate gods of the US. This new education-market economy is turning once prestigious institutions into psuedo-companies, bent on the “bottom line” and profit margins. However, the responsibility for the “take back” of higher education falls equally on administrative, political, and academic shoulders. Giroux and Giroux call on educators to move beyond the land of academia and to integrate- personally and academically- into the larger spheres in the community, where culture and politics are truly learned and made relevant. They also implore educators to work collectively with other academics and with the larger community as partners- not experts- in important domestic problems. [In a particularly important honor to our work, Giroux and Giroux cite The Freechild Project as an example of academics becoming engaged as allies with resources to share (p115).]

Continually hammering the faults of profiteering in higher education, the authors write, “Neoliberalism, fueled by its unwavering belief in market values and the unyielding logic of corporate profit-making, has little patience with non-commodified knowledge or with the more lofty ideals that have defined higher education as a public service.” While this sounds specific to the settings of the community colleges, state colleges, and universities we might or have attended, there is truth within this statement that affects many workers in the nonprofit sector. The frightening indifference of neoliberalism to the mission of nonprofit service work has been tearing at the heart of this field in the last fifteen years that I’ve been in it. However, there is more on this in Henry Giroux’s next work.

At the end of the book the authors pose the question of whether there is a hope for democracy in higher education. After reading their thorough examination of the onslaught of neoliberalism against public goods, services, and civic freedoms in education, readers may think that Giroux and Giroux may think otherwise. Rather, they offer a different, more hopeful future. Highlighting the work of student activists across the nation, they offer the strikes, demonstrations, rallies, and other protests young people have led in the past ten years as evidence of the insurgent call for democracy in schools. Coupled with the allyship of professors and the larger community, there is a possibility for better higher education. According to Giroux and Giroux that possibility is none other than the “promise of an unrealized democracy – a democracy that promise a different future, one that is filled with hope and mediated by the reality of democratic-based struggles.” That’s the future that we work for everyday – and the reason why you should read this book.

 

Order Take Back Higher Education: Race, Youth, and the Crisis of Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Era.

My Review of “Pedagogy of Hope”

Pedagogy of Hope was written by Paulo Freire. The book is essential for Freirians; first-time readers of his work want to go to the original, and then onward. Eventually, come back to this book and you’ll appreciate its depth a lot.

Freire examined his own career consistently, revisiting his beliefs as often as some people change socks. This book was written a quarter century after Pedagogy of the Oppressed, with the purpose of reliving the experience of writing it. He examines his own experiences, offering some of the personal story behind his society-changing critical theory. This book is for people who’ve read the original and want to know more, particularly from a humanizing perspective.

 

Order the Pedagogy of the Oppressed here.

The Freechild Project

Working with a group of youth and youth advocates across the nation, Adam assumed responsibility for creating and maintaining The Freechild Project and its accompanying website since September, 2001. 

Through Freechild, Adam has partnered with hundreds of organizations in twelve countries and 43 states focused on engaging young people in social change. The website reaches hundreds of thousands of users around the world every year, and the publications I’ve written for it have been downloaded more than a million times. As of September 2017, The Freechild Project Facebook group has more than 3,000 members.

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Elsewhere Online

Why Youth Can’t Wait

I look at the people around me and see the prisons and traps
we’re all stuck in. From an early age we are taught and trained
shown that we should stay put, sit still, hold on, walk (don’t run),
and be quiet. Whatever you do, be quiet.

So we do. We go to polite schools or content jobs and type and
read and feel nice. Our hair’s nice and our hearts are nice. We
live nice lives.

But what if… what if we were shown the whole picture from the first
day? What if they said “Hey, when you’re poor, you’re screwed.
If you’re black, you’re challenged. If you’re female, you’re up a creek
. Oh, yeah, and you’ll be young too! Let’s not even go there!”

What if we could awaken all people to the chains that tie them down?
What if everyone saw that we’re responsible for holding ourselves
down? What if the message of systematic and deliberate oppression
was exposed and the entire society- everyone everywhere- saw
that young people are looked down up, frowned upon, sat upon and
shat upon throughout their whole youth…

Then they become adults. And the world turns, and they start pooping
on youth… and the cycle continues…

We’ve gotta speak up. We’ve gotta act up. We’ve gotta quit putting
up, giving up and settling down.

We cannot wait any longer.

Its time to get up. Stand up. Scream out loud. Dream out loud.
We’ve gotta break outta the chains that hold us down. We’ve
gotta stand up for what is ours: freedom. The freedom to earn.
The freedom to learn. The freedom to speak. The freedom to
serve.

We’ve gotta tie people together instead of tearing them apart. We’re
taught that we’re not the same because we’re young and old, black
and white, educated and ignorant, rich and poor.

But we’re the same. And that’s why young people have gotta be free.

No one is free until everyone is free. Free Youth Now.

Download a spoken word version by Robert Grant here.