Why do we need to wait for youth to get involved? They’re here now and are highly capable of being a part of the dialogue and decision-making. This week on the podcast, we’re exploring what that looks like in action from an organization that has been in the trenches for a decade.
Rachel Belin, managing partner and co-founder of Kentucky Student Voice Team works alongside youth to help create an intergenerational dynamic, where youth members are involved in raising their voices and helping others do the same. They’re involved in legislative spaces, advocacy, and more with adults as their partners.
Listen in this week to find out how legislators and the public have responded to KSVT in action, what ripple effect the organization has created, how it supports students who wouldn’t typically seek out something like KSVT, and so much more.
This conversation left me feeling inspired and hopeful.
About Rachel Belin:
Rachel Burg Belin (she/her) is the Managing Partner and, with young people, a co-founder of the Kentucky Student Voice Team.
She has decades of experience by turns as a social studies teacher, media literacy leader, education policy aide, nonprofit development consultant, and commercial radio news director. In the course of this work, she has spearheaded nine different ventures to amplify and elevate the voices of students in civic discourse. With young people as collaborators, she has been the recipient of the Citizen’s and Scholars Civic Spring Award, the Kentucky Nonprofit Network Excellence in Public Policy Award, the Pathway 2 Tomorrow Breakthrough in Education Innovation Award, and a George Foster Peabody Award. Rachel holds a BA from Harvard University and an MAT from the University of Rochester.
Jump in the Conversation:
[1:52] – Amplifying the voice of youth
[2:45] – The role of adults is not to get out of the way; it’s to build and circulate power
[4:40] – Unpacking the word democracy
[5:20] – Young people in public schools can and need to play an important role in shaping those institutions
[6:25] – Guerrilla social studies: It’s hypocrisy to teach democracy in an autocracy
[6:41] – What Kentucky youth have created
[10:21] – Response from legislators and public
[14:50] – Young people are part of the present and don’t need to wait until they’re of voting age to get involved
[17:02] – Policy at legislative level isn’t everything
[18:14] – Roadblocks that have come up in this process
[19:15] – You can’t wait for your ducks to be in a row
[19:34] – Reaching the hardest to reach students
[25:24] – Concrete steps to amplify the voices of students
[26:10] – Young people should be in the room where it happens
[27:10] – Turbo Time
[29:07] – What people need to know about youth engagement
[31:59] – Don’t wait for permission to get involved
[33:13] – Rachel’s Magic Wand
[34:30] – Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources
- Follow Rachel on Twitter
- Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn
- The New Edu – Kentucky Student Voice Team
- Educated by Tara Westover
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at education evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Hi, Rachel, it is so good to have you today.
Rachel Belin 1:11
Thank you, Maureen. It’s so good to be here.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:14
And listeners today I’m chatting with Rachel Belin, the managing partner and with young people, a co founder of the Kentucky student voice team. Rachel, you just keep creating ventures to amplify and elevate the voices of students in civic discourse. And with those young people as collaborators, you’ve earned many civic awards for this work. I can’t wait to dive in and learn more.
Rachel Belin 1:42
Well, thanks. I can’t wait to tell you more. Thanks for that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:46
Yes, Rachel, students have very little authentic voice in high school and university, at least that I’ve seen. So where did this drive to amplify student voice begin for you?
Rachel Belin 1:59
That’s a great question. I think it began for me exactly where it begins for most people who are drawn to work like this. And that is, in my own childhood and adolescence, I had the opportunity to do really cool things, as a youth journalist for an organization called children’s Express. And I was exposed at a very young age to what young people are actually capable of, and what they’re capable of doing without formal permission, both inside but also well beyond well beyond classroom walls.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:34
I love that. And I love the part about without formal permission, kind of like if we just get out of their way.
Rachel Belin 2:41
You know, it’s interesting you say that, because there is a conception that the role of adults around student and youth voice is is to get out of the way. But in fact, it’s it’s more nuanced than that. It’s not to get out of the way, it is more to circulate and build and circulate power to support young people to to lead the way. Adults have a very important role. But it’s less visible than usually you see adults playing.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:11
I like that nuance, because I see also environment or micro school with high school kids. It’s not about turning them loose. It’s about guiding and helping them unpack things. But it’s not free rein. It’s more engaged than that. But it’s also encouraging them to have as much agency as possible.
Rachel Belin 3:36
Exactly. I mean, we often think about when we think about student voice and youth voice, we think about either young people, oppressing their voices and suppressing their voices, but there’s an opposite and justice destructive approach. And that’s putting us on a pedestal, treating them as though anything they say is sacred and holy just because they are young. That’s not respectful, either. There is a happy medium. And I think the role of adult allies is to help young people figure out what that is and to figure out that delicate dance in the intergenerational dynamic that helps make it possible for them to be heard.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:18
And like intergenerational dynamic, I think that we all have a lot to give each other and to share and learn from each other. So I appreciate you calling into focus that it’s not either or it’s us figuring up at dance together. Exactly. So could you unpack the word democracy from the lens of working with young people? Sure,
Rachel Belin 4:46
in our context, so the Kentucky student voice team our mission is and it’s been defined by young people’s been workshop this mission. Our mission is to co create more Justin democratic schools as education research policy and advocacy partners. And what that means in this context, we focus on public education, specifically because our public schools are the first real exposure young people have to democratic institutions and public spaces. But what’s really important to understand is that public schools themselves are not only nurseries of democracy and healthy democratic practice, but they’re also engines of democracy, young people, in public schools can play and need to play, although they don’t often play a really important role in shaping those public institutions. So democracy for us, democracy is a verb, we talk about doing democracy, and, and young people must be called upon and supported to play a really important role in civic life. public schools are a great space to start doing that. But very often, we see that our public schools are you know, we teach about democracy and public school. In fact, a lot of public schools that I’d say it’s kind of hypocrisy to teach about democracy and what is at best a bureaucracy and sometimes can even feel like an autocracy.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:16
Say that again? Well, this is
Rachel Belin 6:19
this is what I call guerrilla social studies. It’s from a former classroom social studies teacher, but it is hypocrisy to teach democracy in really sometimes an autocracy.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:32
Ah, amen. Yeah. So what have Kentucky youth and you created,
Rachel Belin 6:41
so the Kentucky student voice team is a co creation, and it is all about codesign. Young people who are drawn to this work are charged with figuring out ways that they can feel the student shaped hole in the public education landscaped landscape in Kentucky. And what that looks like year to year, semester to semester day to day is really determined by the students who are stepping up to co lead this work. And for us, it looks like young people designing education research studies, to better inform public conversation, and ensure that it’s more student centered in the last year, that specific strand has looked like our massive race to learn study, our team designed a survey that was disseminated to 13,000 students from nearly every Kentucky County at the height of legislative debate about what students should be talking about when it comes to race in schools. And they asked students what they were experiencing, related to race and ethnicity and how it was impacting their education. They were able to use that data to share with policymakers, they wrote opinion pieces and shared it with the general public and they put out a report. And the idea was to help inform the dialogue and and raise the level of dialogue that work continues. That’s one example of the research in policy and advocacy. The team has been doing a lot of work getting deeply involved with legislative activity. We work at both the grassroots, the school and district level, but also the grass tops at the systemic level. So we convened multiple times last year in Frankfort in our capitol, and showed up and made sure young people were heard and weighed in on various issues having to do with student mental health, with some of the debates and discussions around what was called critical race theory, but really had little to do with it. And other issues as they arose. The prevailing guide to our team was being careful to weigh in on issues in which student voice in general could make a difference. And in the Kentucky student voice team in particular, could make a difference. The third big strand of work we do is youth led education, journalism. And we just launched just a week ago, after years of of experimentation and months of deep capacity building we launched a youth led education news service called the new edu and we’ve been training young people and you’re paying young people in Kentucky to report on news education news that in in our state and also to offer commentary and analysis. And we want to we’ve designed this to be an open source content platform so that we are sharing this this content with outside organizations news media Yeah, to run in raising money so that we can do that freely. And we hope we hope it’s a model on a scalable one for another kind of civic journalism, this one led by young people.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 10:14
That is so impressive. And we’ll definitely want to get the links to put in our show notes. How are the legislators and the public responding? Is it like, a token? Isn’t that sweet? Or is it like, whoa, we have a lot to learn or somewhere in between.
Rachel Belin 10:33
So it’s been a real evolution over the years, really, this year marks our 10th year of existence. And over that decade, we have seen the Kentucky student voice team moved from a novelty and legislative spacious spaces to more of an expected reality in those spaces, and where young people who would testify from our team, for example, 10 years ago would take all the air out of the room and get attention and the headlines would be around young people testify. Now the attention is around the substance of what young people are talking about. And I think young people are taken much more seriously. So it there’s a nice ripple effect. I’d like to thank the Kentucky student voice team played a role in that. But there are a lot of other youth led organizations, we try to lift up in the state. And that includes the Kentucky Department of Education and the commissioner’s Youth Advisory Council, which is doing great work, the Kentucky YMCA Association, supporting young people and building their capacity to learn and grow and sit in state ledge in the state legislature, but also to understand civic spaces. So those are just a few of the many youth centered organizations doing great work. But there is now I think, an expectation that we’re going to see young people in more of these policymaking spaces, certainly in education, making spaces.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:06
I love that you’ve taken the concept of advocacy, and developed it into lifting others up and helping other youth organizations also find their voice. I think that that is super powerful.
Rachel Belin 12:23
Thank you for saying that, can I pull on that strand even more on that thread. This is a model of the Kentucky student voice team that is designed to offer another vision of what youth led work can be in a typical school system. It’s a zero sum game, young people are pitted against each other at every term. At every turn, they are competing for titles that don’t mean very much and a lot of extracurricular activities that they can put it on their common app and get into college. And that’s their currency. We don’t do that we’re offering a color a hyper collaborative model, so that young people who are part of the Kentucky student voice team and by the way, there’s no litmus test, there’s no application to join, we turn away no one. They simply can’t have to opt in. And they have to, they can opt into leadership roles to that they help define and build. But this is a collaborative model so that young people who are drawn to this are charged with their central charge is supporting and mobilizing other young people around this work bringing other young people along. We are collaborative. At every turn, we try to be flat. And and it works really well. And by the way, it draws the most high achieving students who could apply for anything because they want an alternative to the zero sum nature of most high school opportunities.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 13:59
What a complete win, win, empowering as opposed to one ASB president who’s just a title in a system that maybe can get a different food in the vending machines, too many people collaborating and lifting each other up, which obviously the my mind immediately goes to Boy, wouldn’t that be nice if our if they could set that example. And it could influence how our political leaders would also interact?
Rachel Belin 14:30
Yeah, just wait a little while we’ll start to see that shift. Did we just have to hold on maybe another 10 more years?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:38
I think so.
Rachel Belin 14:39
aces have power. That that is really, really important. Just a few other important components of this work. I wanted to lift up. There is a concept here that young people are not just the future. We love to talk about young people as being just the future. They’re very much a part of the present and they do not need to Wait until they’re a voting age to get involved with civic life, there are a lot of levers they can pull as citizens, even before they’re 18 years old and eligible to vote. In this work, we value both the head and the heart stories and statistics, qualitative and quantitative knowledge lived experience and expert knowledge both are important. So a lot of times when we put young people in policy making spaces, we are just trying to one of our one person or team calls it pimping trauma, and kind of void their experiences in negative way. And we just want them to share their lived experience. But combining that lived experience with an understanding of the way systems work, and expert knowledge is is very, very powerful. It allows young people to be very powerful messages for public education. And that’s one of our key strategies. And then, you know, as I said, there’s this vision of a cross generational intergenerational approach. So it’s, it’s includes this idea that adults and young people can learn not only from each other, but with each other, that’s really important to this idea of discovery, as we go is really important, we also really emphasize in this work depth over breadth, we’re interested in inspiring other place based communities and action. Or, like the work we’re doing, we’re not interested in controlling or managing other groups, we love the idea of supporting where the energy is, and and helping them and helping to grow them as we as we inspire others, but we don’t want to manage others in this work. And as I mentioned earlier, we value equally, grass roots and a grass tops approach. They’re both critically important. And a lot of times people like to favor and seem to think policy work at the legislative level is everything. That is not true. There are a lot of things individuals can do at the school level and the district level that is incredibly powerful and important. And we’d like to lift that out to up to and, and finally, I’ll just say, working both within and outside systems. So within and outside the schools at the same time, it’s really important, we’re independent of public schools, and we work with public schools when we can but sometimes we need to play the role of critical friend. So that’s really important in everything that we do.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 17:42
These are so valuable the points and I appreciate that you don’t purport to have this formula. Here’s how you can do this, that you honor the authenticity and you want to inspire. It’s not that you want somebody to come and do exactly what you’re doing. You want them to develop it in their own organization. It just is so authentic, and also authentic to me, means messy and juicy. And what are some of the obstacles or roadblocks that you hit in this really authentic process?
Rachel Belin 18:24
Yeah, was messy is the exact right word to use marine live this, to understand that you have to be okay with messiness, you have to be okay with shades of grey and nuance. You have to be OK with creative metrics to try to capture the impact of your work, because you’re not gonna be able to predict a year out exactly how things are gonna go down. And you have to be okay with that. That’s a real challenge a lot of the work that we do along those lines, we start doing without permission, and we start doing it even without funding. Because it’s the right thing to do for us at that time, we have found that that is also a key to our success. Oftentimes, when we start doing the work, we attract funding and support, because it is the right thing to do and it is the right time to do it. If we waited for all of our ducks to be in a row, before we did anything, we wouldn’t get much done. So just like the best design thinkers, we really do have a bias towards action and we’re not afraid to to have lots of failures on the way to figuring stuff out. So the mess is a huge part of the work. Another big challenge for us always is figuring out ways to reach the hardest to reach students in this work. Just because we are self selective and we have no formal barriers to entry doesn’t mean all students are drawn to this work and feel supported in these spaces. So we pay a lot of attention to bringing in students from more marginalized populations. lower income, rural regions, ethnically underrepresented students. And we’ve developed a few strategies over the years to do exactly that from a lot of trial and error. So one thing we do is we pay students for their work so that we’re not competing with the need to have an after school job, that’s really important. Another thing we do is we, we pay special attention to students who might need a longer runway and, and don’t come with us to us with full capacity to do the work. And we invest deeply in providing additional support one on one communication and contact reaching out more proactively than we might with other students. We identify adults on the ground who might live in the communities where these students live to provide additional support there. And we also design with with students from these populations, we design a lot of project based work so that they can experience some initial and tangible success pretty immediately, before we pull them in even more deeply into the larger organization. And we have found those strategies work for us. They take a lot of time and a lot of attention. But they’re absolutely significant to doing the work we want to be doing.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:25
I am I just have tingles, because there’s so much talk about being allies. And I think as a school system, we are in some ways doing better with students that are neurodivergent, or even sometimes kids that are non binary. But when kids, if we really want for our youth to have equal access, is going to take this level of differentiation, scaffolding and active recruiting. So for you to identify things like hey, this kid would have to have an after school job can’t just come in and hang with us. We can counterbalance that this could meet somebody in their community, I’m just I’m impressed by the depth that Kentucky Kentucky student voice that you’ve gone as a team to, to say we value and we’re gonna go above and beyond, because the playing field has not been level. And at some point, we all have to start leveling the playing field. And you are modeling that on top of all of this wonderful voice and advocacy and policy work. I’m I’m just super duper impressed, Rachel,
Rachel Belin 22:36
thank you for saying that. I will say to you know that there’s that famous Peter Lynch quote that we take to heart which is, you know, Culture eats eats strategy for breakfast, paying attention to and supporting more marginalized or underrepresented students and work like this is a critical part of our culture. It’s a cornerstone of a culture we aspire to anyway. And there’s a great attention that the team pays to being supportive of each other and creating a nurturing but also deeply reflective environment to we know that the internal work and the time we have to process what we’re doing externally is even more important than what the public sees us produce outside of this work. And that, by the way, was something I learned from students, I did not know that intuitively, until they were able to articulate that vision. And it made perfect sense. And it’s fueled us a lot. So we we communicate to each other on a slack that is extremely active 24/7 communication, and it’s it’s like a duck, you know, paddling underwater, the public sees the duck, then we communicate externally across our social media regularly. And it’s journalism platforms, but it’s 10 million times more things. And communication is happening internally. And that’s the way it needs to be for work like this.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:11
I’m just I’m impressed because we want reflective people in our society. We want caring people, we want people that understand we all bring different gifts, and we all have different challenges. So yes, you have a specific mission, but you’re also creating a culture of reflection, caring community, empathetic listening, so many of these skills that are just going to make our world better in interactions in general. It’s it’s just impressive on every level. What you all are working on, Rachel,
Rachel Belin 24:52
thank you for saying that. It’s also deeply fun. Though I feel even guilty
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:00
Yes, yeah, real, getting real in safe places is really special. And it’s an honor I know to have that with youth and with young teachers to be a part of a scenario like that I always feel gifted and know that it’s it’s fragile, it’s beautiful, and definitely not to be taken for granted. Amen. So how can others listening parents, educators, school listeners? What can they do? What are a couple of concrete steps that they can be doing to help amplify the voices of students, and help to bring about this broader sense of democracy?
Rachel Belin 25:41
Yeah, that’s great question, I think the number one thing adults can do, and this is along the lines of circulating power, and shifting power, is bringing young people into spaces where decisions are made in our civic life, in a school system, that could be everything from school board meetings and PTA meetings, to school based decision making meetings, but it could be, you know, conversations about school climate and culture that are just happening. Young people should be in the room where it happens. And that’s just in an educational context. I think, too, that, you know, there’s this notion of being inclusive, when you tell young people that they’re welcome to come somewhere. But there’s a big difference between inviting a person to dance and inviting, inviting a person to the dance and inviting a person to dance. There’s a big difference there. And I think we need to really guide young people into these spaces so that they do feel comfortable, and adults need to learn how to support young people. There’s a lot we need adults to be doing, to make the to make this more normal and to see young people as the partners that they really can be in improving our school system, but also improving our communities more broadly.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 27:05
Great steps. I would love to pivot and just get to know a little bit more about EU if you are okay with that. You’re super, I have a couple of trouble time questions. First is what is the last book you read?
Rachel Belin 27:22
So glad you asked because my book club met last week. And I was really racing to finish the book that morning, but it was it was educated by Tara Westover. And I know I’m about 10 years late to the party on this one. But it was an excellent read about a young woman coming of age growing up in a Mormon Idaho fundamentalist family and discovering the meaning and value of educating and so many things resonated with me, but not least of which is how somebody learns agency over their own lives through over their own life through education. So I love that book. I would recommend it but I know the whole world has already read it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:11
The whole world. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?
Rachel Belin 28:17
So there’s a lot of there are a lot of inspirational folks that I’d love to meet. But two of them off the top of my head are young people. Emma Gonzalez, who is one of the Parkland leaders, who combined her lived experience in with her expert knowledge and has been fighting for sensible gun laws ever since the tragedy and the massacre at her high school. Joshua Wong is another one who’s an international pro democracy leader who started his work at the tender age of 15, has led a revolution in Hong Kong. He’s currently in prison, but greatly admire both of these young people for 1000 reasons and they are the tip of the iceberg. I could list 1000 That is great.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:06
What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about youth engagement? So I
Rachel Belin 29:11
I think the biggest thing I wish people knew is that youth engagement is necessary for healthy democracy. We it is it should not be a novelty. And in fact, it isn’t. There’s a long history in the United States of young people are leading the way for more equitable and more just communities, not just schools. We’ve we saw a huge surge and peak during the 1960s civil rights movement, but it young people’s involvement predates that, and I just, it should not be seen as a novelty but it should be seen as a necessity.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:52
Yes, a pet peeve of yours. A pet peeve?
Rachel Belin 29:57
The idea that young People are just the future. I cannot stand that phrase Please, everybody, listen, listening, never use that, again. It is just not accurate. Young people are very much a part of the present.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:12
That is, I’m so glad you raised that awareness. Because I know I’ve been guilty of that kind of like, oh my gosh, they have so much to offer. It’s like they have so much they are offering when we let them now. So that’s a subtle shift that I need to be better at being consistent about. So thank you. I’ll take that to heart too.
Rachel Belin 30:32
I don’t mean to make anyone feel bad. But
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:34
yeah, no point taken. What’s the passion that you bring to the Kentucky student voice team? I
Rachel Belin 30:42
think I bring an abiding belief that young people are for the most part, and also somewhat ironically, our education systems largest untapped resource. I feel like there is so much young people could do to actually improve our public education system. And they’re not being asked to do anything to do as partners, but they’re also not being seen as capable of doing that work.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:13
Agreed. What’s your favorite thing or fun fact about Kentucky? Well,
Rachel Belin 31:20
I live in Lexington, Kentucky. And one thing I found interesting is that blue grass is not blue. Everybody. It is green like normal grass. It when it bugs, it looks a little blue if you if you’re really far away, and you’re looking at a field of it. But now it’s green. I’ve been looking for Blue Grass, like probably everybody who visits Kentucky this part of Kentucky. It’s not there. So we’re not crazy if we don’t see it. Who would have known I’ve never been to Kentucky?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:56
How can other youth become activists? So
Rachel Belin 32:01
don’t wait for permission people learned helplessness is real. A lot of people in our in any system not just school systems, except what they can’t do or what limits are placed upon them by others. But you don’t there’s so much you can do. If you don’t wait for permission. And your your charge should be to find the U shaped hole in the universe and fill it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:28
Yes. And what’s something about you that most people don’t know? So
Rachel Belin 32:34
I am a fairly reluctant competitive athlete. I think I do a lot of treadmill running in the basement. But every once in a while my husband drags me out to competitive events. And I do okay, so apparently, it translates. I’m a very collaborative person. So I don’t see myself that way. But I can dine, I can do it. I can run.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:06
Oh, I love it. Rachel, I like to wrap up with a magic wand. So if we hand you and the Kentucky student voice team, this magic wand, what would you wish for in terms of youth empowerment and youth voice?
Rachel Belin 33:24
I think wish for a world in which young people are seamlessly integrated into our schools and communities as the partners they can be and the partners they need to be. Our democracy is very fragile. That is a fact that has been exposed even more in the last couple of years. We need young people we cannot afford to wait for them to turn this magic age of 18 or 21. To be a part of our communities and culture. We need them now. So that’s what I would do with my magic wand I’d make make it so everybody could see that. For the fact that it is
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:04
yes, yes. Well, Rachel, thank you for being our guest today and for all of the collaborating you are doing to empower and to circulate the power that our youth have.
Rachel Belin 34:16
Thank you so much for inviting me Maureen. I really enjoyed our conversation
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:30
I know many of us were excited when we saw youth engaging in political action when Bernie Sanders was running for presidency. I was hoping that this was a turning point and not just a blip on the radar. Rachel’s wisdom can really take us from these occasional blips to steady engagement by our youth and political advocacy. I appreciate that she clarified it’s not about adults getting out of the way. Her phrase hit home, we have to build and circulate power. Each of us can stop and think of times that we’ve made decisions on behalf of youth. In those situations, there were probably opportunities for us to build in student voice and the power our youth. But we have to be deliberate to make this circulation of power happen. It definitely has to be more than lip service. We don’t want the hypocrisy of teaching about democracy in an attack cracy as Rachel so aptly put it. So where are the student shaped holes in our school system? And where can we co create action research with students gathering data, and using that data to impact filling those holes? I’ve posted the new edu link in the show notes. This is Kentucky’s only Statewide Independent student run newsroom. And it’s publishing insightful stories straight from Kentucky classrooms. And bonus that it’s open source. Kentucky student voice team has the central mission of supporting and mobilizing other young people. Impressive. rising tide lifts all ships and that’s what they’re doing. And these youth, along with other youth are our present and our future. I’m definitely in Rachel’s corner when she talks about design thinking with a bias toward action. We need to dive in and trust that permission and funding will come along the way our youth need us now. And truly authentic intergenerational teaming will be messy, so we have to be ready for nuances. And as Rachel says creative metrics, there will be moving targets and shifting reality. But that’s no reason not to move forward. Kentucky student voice team, you are leading the nation. Thank you for seeing public schools as nurseries and engines in this business of doing democracy. Let’s hope that many others will follow your example. As always, listeners, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:38
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit educationevolution.org/consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to educationevolution.org education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.
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