New York High School Student Union

The New York High School Student Union operated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Activities

The NY Union worked with hundreds of students statewide to create a list of ten demands for schools.

  1. No suspensions, involuntary transfers, exclusion from classes, detention, harassment of students. Due process for students.
  2. No cops in schools, no narcos, security guards, plain clothesmen, informers.
  3. No program cards, hall checks, ID’s, passes.
  4. An end to commercial and general diplomas, one diploma for every student upon graduation.
  5. Open admissions to colleges, a college education free for everyone who wants one.
  6. Jobs and housing for every student who wants them on graduating, dropping out, or leaving home. The army is not a decent job.
  7. No military recruiting in schools, no military assemblies, literature, no sending names to draft boards or recruiters. An immediate end to the draft.
  8. Black and Latin departments controlled by Black and Latin students.
  9. Community control of the schools and every other community facility. Students are part of the community.
  10. POWER! Student control of curriculum, publications, assemblies, clubs, student government, dress, etc. The right to organize politically.
  11. We support the fifteen points of the Black and Puerto Rican Citywide HS Council.

Related topics

References

  • New York High School Free Press (an underground newspaper), No. 8, reprinted in Birmingham, J. (1970) Our Time Is Now: Notes from the High School Underground. New York: Praeger. p 178.

Published by Adam Fletcher

Adam is the founding director of SoundOut. An author, speaker and consultant, he has worked with K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits and others for more than 15 years. Learn more about him at http://soundout.org/Adam

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5 Comments

      1. I am aware of Gael Graham’s “Young Activists: American High School Students in the Age of Protest.” Sadly, this is the first and still the only book on 1960s high school student activism. There have been several articles, one in which I wrote. I must also add that Columbia University did a oral history projects with eight or nine former high school activists, most who were members of the New York High School Student Union. Usually, when I ask people about the existences of public history projects on high school student activism, many people assume that activism didn’t occur at the high school level.

        1. Oh, I’d challenge that assumption on its face though – I’ve actually found a bit. Its just not academic, per se. From that bibliography, off hand I’d suggest:
          * Abrell, R.L. and Hanna, C.C. (March 1971) “High School Unrest Reconsidered,” High School Journal, 54(6), pp. 396-404.
          * Bailey, S.K. (1970) Disruption in Urban Public Secondary Schools: Final Report. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Research Corporation.
          * Benson, G.L. (1970) Student Activism and Organizational Imperatives: A Case Study. Unpublished Ed.D. thesis, University of Oregon.
          * Birmingham, J. (Ed.) (1970) Our Time is Now: Notes from the High School Underground. New York: Praeger.
          * Bridges, E.M. (December 1969) “Student Unrest and Crisis Decision-Making,” Administrator’s Notebook, 18.
          * Chesler, M.A. (May 1969) “Dissent and Disruption in Secondary Schools,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the Metropolitan Detroit Bureau of School Studies, Inc.
          * Chesier, M.A. and Lohman, J.E. (1971) “Changing Schools Through Student Advocacy,” in Schmuck, R.A. and Miles, M.B. (Eds.) Organization Development in Schools. Palo Alto: National Press Books.

          And those are just from the first section!

          I’m impressed with a book I was recently sent that summarizes high school activism throughout the last century, but I can’t remember the name of it. All of my work focuses on k-12, and anything you find on this site will stay within those parameters. You might appreciate the short intro I wrote to the student voice movement at http://soundout.org/student-voice-movement/

          Let me know if you have any suggestions or if there’s anything specific I can share with you.

          1. I think you will be interested in the article I recently published: https://www.academia.edu/12305565/The_War_in_the_Schools_San_Francisco_Bay_Area_High_Schools_and_the_Anti-Vietnam_War_Movement_1965-1973

            I am aware of several of the works you cited. Three years of studying high school student activism, I think people believe “nothing happened” because unrest in secondary schools have been forgotten and general assumptions that it is quite difficult to be an activists as a high school student. Just for the record, I did interview students of the New York High School Student Union for a research seminar paper.

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