The Maroon

Gershoni Seeks Changes in Education through Action

Miranda Gershoni, Copy Editor

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Have you ever felt apathetic at school? Do you ever wonder if the system is actually working in your favor? I think about this everyday. Since I started school 12 years ago, I’ve kept notebooks filled with things I’ve noticed and want to change about the education system. I recently flipped through the pages of my notes–that became increasingly more legible–to try and get to the core of my vision for the future of education. The main idea was that students need a greater say. We need to be heard, because the policies being set affect us directly.

Since freshman year, I’ve advocated for education reform policies in various forms, through Youth and Government, by encouraging legislation that advances school climate and best practices, and through several education conferences. I was fortunate to be invited by MAPS teacher Keeth Matheny to speak at multiple conferences on behalf of my experience in the class and how SEL in education has affected my life. I’ve spoken on panels in front of educators, researchers, and other stakeholders in education, all about how the education system has affected me, and how I feel it can be improved from a student’s perspective. These experiences were incredible and taught me so much about how I want to spend the rest of my life.

The most significant event that had the most profound impact on my life was a recent conference in Palo Alto, California. Held at the Facebook headquarters, the Connecting Communities of Courage Summit brought together researchers, educators, and other stakeholders in the education reform movement to discuss solutions on all levels. I had the privilege of being one of 40 students in the country invited to participate. All conference attendees were split up into groups of 15-20 people to discuss different issues. My group was assigned to the issue of “safety”, focusing on physical safety but mostly emotional and mental safety. Sitting next to me were researchers from Harvard, superintendents, and other passionate students, teachers, and education advocates. We discussed challenges and gaps in the safety of students in the context of the recent social and political climate, and how to bridge those gaps through policy and practice recommendations. These group meetings all ended with a culminating statement and tangible plans for what each of us were going to do to advance the ideas we discussed. Our statement was:

“We pledge to continue the conversation past today, go to work on Monday with these thoughts:
1. Reach out to mayors, state chiefs, state legislators, state board of ed and governors. We want to have a conversation. Share some data from the polls. Call to action to the current governors. Statewide social emotional learning K-8, bottom up coalition.
2. Bring all the stakeholders together before going to the governors.
3. Break down the silos.
4. Start with communication. Build trust. See each other as humans.
5. Thinking about safety more comprehensively especially meaningful relationship building.
6. Shared decision making within the district that includes meaningful relationships among all of the stakeholders.”

Being in a room with powerful people who are actively working towards and seeking advice from young people on issues I am passionate about inspires me to keep going, to persist in my vision of what education can be. I am excited to bring all that I learned from this conference to our school through Student Council, Link Crew, and other organizations. I believe that by creating awareness to the fundamental issues in education and through student-teacher communication, the education system can become a mobilizing agent rather than a means to an end.

 

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The student news site of Stephen F. Austin High School
Gershoni Seeks Changes in Education through Action